Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 25, 2013 - 02:16 PM | Scott Michaud
If you were hoping to purchase a Valve-stamped device then you will be disappointed.
Valve, as it becomes increasingly clear, does not want to limit SteamOS to specific hardware. With the tag line, "Finally, a multiple choice answer", Valve wants consumers to purchase from OEMs or create the devices themselves.
Valve will make 300 of their own boxes and deliver them to selected beta testers, for free, after an "eligibility quest" ending October 25th. No specifications have been announced for these devices except that they are high performance, upgradable, and open. Even if you do not get one of these boxes, completing the quest will earn you a Steam badge so, that is something, right?
The most important announcement, hidden in the FAQ, is that game streaming will be available during the Beta test. I could assume, from this, that it will be available at launch. This allows users to access "the 3,000 games on Steam" whether running natively or networked to your gaming computer. Also in the FAQ, SteamOS will have mouse and keyboard support although it clearly is designed for gamepad input, too.
The longer this goes, the more correct I feel about Valve picking up the slack left behind by Microsoft. These boxes look at consoles from the model of "Media Center Extenders" except with Steam and other streaming partners being the Media Center server instead of actual Windows Media Center. Sure, I expect them to be more powerful than Roku boxes and many even more powerful than the Xbox One and PS4, but they are looking to follow that market segment.
I do not see these devices even trying to compete with PC market share.
You can purchase your own Steam Machine from a number of OEMs in 2014. The beta contest closes October 25th and those devices will be shipped between now at the end of the year. For details on the "eligibility quest", check out Steam's page.
Make sure to come back on Friday for the last of three announcements. Also, if you're around in 45 minutes (after publish), check out AMD's Hawaii GPU announcement live stream.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 23, 2013 - 02:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, SteamOS, Steam Box, big picture mode
SteamOS is the first announcement, of three, in Valve's attempt to install a PC into your living room. The operating system is unsurprisingly built from Linux and optimized for the living room. Still no announcement of hardware although the second part is less than 48 hours away. The key features of SteamOS will also be ported to the Steam client on Windows, OSX, and Linux. Are you seeing... the big picture?
The four main features are: in-home streaming, media services, family sharing, and family options.
In-home streaming allows users to, by leaving their Steam client running on their PC or Mac, use their network to transmit video and controller input to SteamOS. The concept is very similar to OnLive and Gaikai. Latency is barely an issue, however, as the server is located on your local network. As the user owns the server, also known as their home computer, there is less concern of the service removing the title from their library. Graphics performance would be dictated by that high-end PC, and not the gaming consoles.
As a side note: Gabe Newell, last year at CES, mentioned plans by NVIDIA to allow virtualized GPUs with Maxwell (AMD is probably working on a similar feature, too). Combined with in-home streaming, this means that two or more Steam boxes could play games from the same desktop even while someone else uses it.
SteamOS will have music, movie, and TV functionality. Very little details on this one but I would assume Netflix is a possibility. The Steam distribution platform can physically handle video and audio streaming, especially with their updates a couple of years ago, but their silence about content deals leads me to assume they are talking about third-party services... for now, at least. We do know, from LinuxCon, that Gabe Newell is a firm believer in one library of content regardless of device.
We have already discussed Steam Family Sharing, but this is obviously aimed at Steam Box. One library for all content includes games.
Lastly, Steam will be updated for family control options. Individual users can be restricted or hidden from certain titles in other users' libraries. This helps keep them at-or-above parity with the gaming consoles for concerned parents.
Valve also believes in user control.
Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else. With SteamOS, “openness” means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation.
SteamOS will be free, forever, to everyone. Both users and system builders (including OEMs) can download the operating system and install it on their machines. No release date, yet, but it will be available soon... Valve Time?
The second announcement will occur at 1PM EDT this Wednesday, September 25, 2013. According to their iconography, we can now assume SteamOS will be the circle. The next announcement is circle in square brackets: SteamOS in a box? If you come on over to find out (please do! : D), stick around an extra couple of hours (minus the time it takes to write the article) for our AMD Hawaii Live Stream at 3PM EDT also on September 25th.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2013 - 09:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Steam Box, LinuxCon, Gabe Newell
Valve Software, as demonstrated a couple of days ago, still believe in Linux as the future of gaming platforms. Gabe Newell discussed this situation at LinuxCon, this morning, which was streamed live over the internet (and I transcribed after the teaser break at the bottom of the article). Someone decided to rip the stream, not the best quality but good enough, and put it on Youtube. I found it and embed it below. Enjoy!
Gabe Newell highlights, from the seventh minute straight through to the end, why proprietary platforms look successful and how they (sooner-or-later) fail by their own design. Simply put, you can control what is on it. Software you do not like, or even their updates, can be stuck in certification or even excluded from the platform entirely. You can limit malicious software, at least to some extent, or even competing products.
Ultimately, however, you limit yourself by not feeding in to the competition of the crowd.
If you wanted to get your cartridge made you bought it, you know, FOB in Tokyo. If you had a competitive product, miraculously, your ROMs didn't show up until, you know, 3 months after the platform holder's product had entered market and stuff like that. And that was really where the dominant models for what was happening in gaming ((came from)).
But, not too surprisingly, open systems were advancing faster than the proprietary systems had. There used to be these completely de novo graphics solutions for gaming consoles and they've all been replaced by PC-derived hardware. The openness of the PC as a hardware standard meant that the rate of innovation was way faster. So even though, you would think, that the console guys would have a huge incentive to invest in it, they were unable to be competitive.
Microsoft attempts to exert control over their platform with modern Windows which is met by a year-over-year regression in PC sales; at the same time, PC gaming is the industry hotbed of innovation and it is booming as a result. In a time of declining sales in PC hardware, Steam saw a 76% growth (unclear but it sounds like revenue) from last year.
Valve really believes the industry will shift toward a model with little divide between creator and consumer. The community has been "an order of magnitude" more productive than the actual staff of Team Fortress 2.
Does Valve want to compete with that?
This will only happen with open platforms. Even the consoles, with systems sold under parts and labor costs to exert control, have learned to embrace the indie developer. The next gen consoles market indie developers, prior to launch, seemingly more than the industry behemoths and that includes their own titles. They open their platforms a little bit but it might still not be enough to hold off the slow and steady advance of PC gaming be it through Windows, Linux, or even web standards.
Speaking of which, Linux and web standards are oft criticized because they are fragmented. Gabe Newell, intentionally or unintentionally, claimed proprietary platforms are more fragmented. Open platforms have multiple bodies push and pull the blob but it all tends to flow in the same direction. Proprietary platforms have lean bodies with control over where they can go, just many of them. You have a dominant and a few competing platforms for each sector: phones and tablets, consoles, desktops, and so forth.
He noted each has a web browser and, because the web is an open standard, is the most unified experience across devices of multiple sectors. Open fragmentation is small compared to the gaps between proprietary silos across sectors. ((As a side note: Windows RT is also designed to be one platform for all platforms but, as we have been saying for a while, you would prefer an open alternative to all RT all the time... and, according to the second and third paragraphs of this editorial, it will probably suffer from all of the same problems inherent to proprietary platforms anyway.))
Everybody just sort of automatically assumes that the internet is going to work regardless of wherever they are. There may be pluses or minuses of their specific environment but nobody says, "Oh I'm in an airplane now, I'm going to use a completely different method of accessing data across a network". We think that should be more broadly true as well. That you don't think of touch input or game controllers or living rooms as being things which require a completely different way for users to interact or acquire assets or developers to program or deliver to those targets.
Obviously if that is the direction you are going in, Linux is the most obvious basis for that and none of the proprietary, closed platforms are going to be able to provide that form of grand unification between mobile, living room, and desktop.
Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile.
Well, we will certainly be looking forward to next week.
Personally, for almost two years I found it weird how Google, Valve, and Apple (if the longstanding rumors were true) were each pushing for wearable computing, Steam Box/Apple TV/Google TV, and content distribution at the same time. I would not be surprised, in the slightest, for Valve to add media functionality to Steam and Big Picture and secure a spot in the iTunes and Play Store market.
As for how wearables fit in? I could never quite figure that out but it always felt suspicious.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 11, 2013 - 03:43 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: w540, Thinkpad, quadro, optimus, mobile workstation, Lenovo, haswell
Lenovo announced several business-oriented ThinkPad notebooks today, including a new 15" mobile workstation called the ThinkPad W540. This new ISV-certified workstation employs Lenovo's claimed "user inspired design," high resolution screen, Intel Haswell processor, and longer battery life.
The ThinkPad W540 measures 27mm and weighs 5.45 pounds. It features a 15.5" IPS display with a resolution of 2880 x 1620 and Precision back-lit keyboard with number pad. The screen can be automatically calibrated using the integrated X-Rite color calibrator, according to the press release. IO ports include Thunderbolt, VGA, and USB among others.
Lenovo has packed the W540 with a quad core Intel i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, an NVIDIA Quadro GPU (with Optimus support), and up to 2TB of hard drive storage in optional RAID configurations. The notebook comes with a Wi-Fi radio and can also be configured with a 4G LTE cellular radio.
Lenovo has not yet announced pricing, but the mobile workstation will be available in November.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | September 10, 2013 - 12:51 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, never settle forever, never settle, Saints Row IV
A month after the launch of the choose your own adventures, "Never Settle Forever", we get another entry for the gold tier: Saint's Row IV.
Yet another territory they claim.
Two Radeon cards, the HD 7950 and the HD 7970 (with or without GHz edition), qualify for this tier in AMD's promotion. Desktop PCs built with a Radeon HD 8900 installed also count toward this promotion. When you go for the gold, so to speak, you can choose three of the following (now) eleven games to enjoy your new hardware with:
- Saint's Row IV
- Tomb Raider
- Hitman: Absolution
- Sleeping Dogs
- Far Cry 3
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- DiRT 3
- DiRT: Showdown
- Sniper Elite V2
AMD prepared a statement about their partnership with Saint's Row IV publisher, Deep Silver:
“AMD and Deep Silver have a long and successful history of collaboration across their many excellent games, and Saints Row IV is another example of their outstanding development talent. We are very proud to have their partnership in the AMD Gaming Evolved program and Never Settle Forever bundle,” said Ritche Corpus, director of developer relations and alliances team, Graphics Business Unit, AMD. “As a result, PC gamers with AMD Radeon™ graphics cards can fire up their copy of Saints Row IV knowing that they are receiving the best possible experience. And as the exclusive hardware partner for Saints Row IV, the AMD Gaming Evolved program continues to demonstrate its relentless commitment to ensuring the world’s most exciting games are exclusively optimized for AMD Radeon™ hardware.”
AMD is not finished with Never Settle and claims more will arrive in the coming months. I would expect the switch to choose-your-bundle gives the company slightly more freedom to add extra titles without ballooning costs or removing popular entries. I hope we will see titles available in other tiers, except for the HD 7990 which should keep its 8 game promotion, along with more gold entries.
Either way, we will keep you updated as we hear more.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 9, 2013 - 09:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Xeon Phi, workstation, quadro, micron, LSI, k6000, Ivy Bridge-EP, firepro, dell
Along with the release of new mobile workstations, Dell announced three new desktop workstations. Specifically, Dell is launching the T3610, T5610, and T7610 PC workstations under its Precision series. The new systems reside in redesigned cases with improved cable management, removable power supplies (tool-less, removable by sliding out from rear panel), and in the case of the T7610 removable hard drives. All of the new Precision workstations have been outfitted with Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-EP based Xeon processors, ECC memory, workstation-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, Xeon Phi accelerator card options, LSI hardware RAID controllers, and updated software solutions from Intel and Dell.
The new Precision workstations side-by-side. From left to right: T3610, T5610, and T7610.
Dell's Precision T3610 is a the mid-tower system of the group powered by single socket Xeon E5-2600 v2 hardware that further supports up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two graphics cards, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” SSDs.
The Precision T3610, a new single socket, mid-range workstation.
The Precision T5610 ups the ante to a dual socket IVB-EP processor system that can be configured with up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. Quadro K5000) graphics cards, a Tesla K20C accelerator card, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” solid state drives.
Finally, the T7610 workstation supports dual Intel Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors (up to 24 cores per system), up to 512GB DDR3 ECC memory, three graphics cards (including two NVIDIA Quadro K6000 cards), four 3.5” hard drives, and eight 2.5” SSDs.
Dell's Precision T5610 dual socket workstation.
The new Precision workstations can also be configured with an Intel Xeon Phi 3120A accelerator card in lieu of a Tesla card. The choice will mainly depend on the applications being used and the development resources and expertise available. Both options are designed to accelerate highly parallel workloads in applications that have been compiled to support them. Further, users can add an LSI hardware RAID card with 1GB of onboard memory to the systems. Dell further offers a Micron P320h PCI-E SSD that, while not bootable, offers up 350GB of high performance storage that excels at high sequential reads and writes.
On the software front, Dell is including the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer and the Intel Cache Acceleration Software. The former automatically configures and optimizes the workstation for specific applications based on profiles that are reportedly regularly updated. The other bit of software works to optimize systems that use both hard drives and SSDs with the SSDs as a cache for the mechanical storage. The Intel Cache Acceleration Software configures the caching algorithms to favor caching very large files on the solid state storage. It is a different approach to consumer caching strategies, but one that works well with businesses that use these workstations to process large data sets.
The Dell Precision T7610 workstation.
The Dell workstations are aimed at businesses doing scientific analysis, professional engineering, and complex 3D modeling. The T7610 in particular is aimed at the oil and gas industry for use in simulations and modeling as companies search for new oil deposits.
All three systems will be available for purchase worldwide beginning September 12th. Some of the options, such as 512GB of ECC and the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 on the T7610 will not be available until next month, however. The T3610 has a starting price of $1,099 while the T5610 and T7610 have starting prices of $2,729 and $3,059 respectively.
What are your thoughts on Dell's new mid-tower workstations?
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 09:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: workstation, quadro, precision series, optimus, mobile workstation, m6800, m4800, haswell, firepro, enduro, dell
Today, Dell announced new mobile workstation systems in 15” and 17” notebook form factors. The Dell Precision M4800 and Precision M6800 are 15” and 17” laptops constructed of magnesium alloy and anodized aluminum cases, pack some impressive portable computing power, and will be available later this week.
The Dell Precision M6800 and M4800. Photo courtesy of Dell Inc.
Both the Dell M4800 and M6800 are ISV certified, MIL-STD-810G tested, and support FIPS fingerprint readers, self encrypting hard drives, and TPM security chips. The workstations are updates to the existing M4700 and M6700 systems and can be configured with Intel Haswell i5 or i7 (including i7 Extreme Edition) processors, AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz (or 16GB DDR3 at 1866MHz), multiple storage drives, Waves MaxxAudio, and WiGig wireless dock support that allows up to 5 external displays. Users can attach a 9-cell 97Wh slice battery in addition to the 9-cell 97Wh system battery to get extended battery life. Users can add dedicated graphics cards to the systems from AMD (FirePro) or NVIDIA (Quadro), which support Enduro and Optimus technologies respectively. The technology allows the system to turn off the dedicated cards and use the Intel processor graphics when the extra horsepower is not needed to conserve battery life. The M4800 and M6800 workstations each come with 3 year warranties.
The Dell Precision M4800 is a mobile workstation weighing 6.35 pounds. It features a backlit keyboard, trackpad, and high resolution 15.6” QHD+ IGZO display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. The notebook can be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 “Haswell” Extreme Edition processor, an AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro or NVIDIA Quadro K2100M graphics card, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory, and 2.5 TB of internal storage (two 1TB plus one 500GB drive) in RAID 0, 1, or 5 modes.
The 15” Dell Precision M4800 workstation will be available on September 12th starting at $1,249.
Stepping up to the larger 17” Precision M6800, users can configure the system with a Haswell Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz system memory, 3.5TB of storage space in RAID 0, 1, or 5, and a 17” 1080p LED-backlit 10-point multi-touch display. This notebook weighs 7.86 pounds.
The M6800 will be available in black or phoenix red with a starting MSRP of $1,599 on September 12th.
Business customers needing portable computing power have some interesting new options with the two new Dell workstations, which pack some powerful hardware into a laptop form factor. Sure, they are not the lightest or thinnest machines, but you won't find i7 processors, 32GBs of memory, Quadro graphics, and 2+TB of storage in an ultrabook.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 5, 2013 - 10:25 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: yoga 2 pro, thinkpad yoga, thinkpad tablet, Lenovo, ifa 2013
One of the major themes of Lenovo's IFA product releases is the push into multi-mode computing which amounts to convertible PCs such as its Yoga series with 360-degree hinges. Two of the new multi-mode computers are the consumer focused Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga for business users. Both devices will be available later this year.
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is a 13” convertible ultrabook measuring 12.99” x 8.66” x 0.61” and weighing 3.06 pounds. The system is an update to the original Yoga, and maintains the dual hinge design that allows the display to fold all the way back into tablet mode.
The Yoga 2 Pro has a QHD+ touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 and 350 nit brightness. Other external features include a backlit AccuType keyboard, trackpad, stereo speakers, and a 720p webcam. There are several IO ports situated around the sides of the notebook including one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one combo mic/headphone audio jack, one SD card slot, and one micro HDMI video output.
The convertible ultrabook is configured with an Intel Haswell Core i7 ULT processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 512GB SSD, and a battery rated at 6 hours of 1080p video playback with the display at 150 nits brightness. It also comes equipped with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. The Yoga 2 Pro will come pre-installed with Windows 8.1 Pro. Users can control the Yoga 2 using the touchscreen, keyboard and trackpad, voice, or motion controls. Lenovo further includes software that will automatically list Windows applications on the Start Screen depending on the mode the “multi-mode” computer is in (tablet, laptop, tent, ect).
The Yoga 2 Pro will be available in October for $1099.99 (starting MSRP).
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
Beyond the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo is introducing the Yoga form factor to the business market with the new ThinkPad Yoga. The system is smaller than the Yoga 2 Pro but a bit thicker and heavier. It does make several trade-offs versus the consumer Yoga 2 Pro to integrate business-friendly features such as digitizer support. Interestingly, the two systems are priced similarly, and the starting MSRP on the ThinkPad Yoga is lower than the Yoga 2 Pro.
The upcoming ThinkPad Yoga is a 12.5” notebook with a magnesium alloy chassis that is 0.74” thick and weighs 3.48 with everything installed. Users can choose between an HD display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass or a 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen display with support for an optional Wacom digitizer pen. Unfortunately, there is no QHD+ option on this business-class multi-mode PC. Other features include a backlit keyboard, five button glass trackpad, stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, and “all day battery life.” Specifically, the ThinkPad Yoga is rated at 5.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i7 or 8.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i3 processor. IO on the ThinkPad Yoga includes a single audio jack (mic+headphone), SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI video output, and a DC-in OneLink dock adapter port.
The other interesting feature that is exclusive to the ThinkPad version of the Yoga is a keyboard that uses what Lenovo calls a “lift and lock” system to secure the keyboard while the system is in tablet mode. When the display is rotated all of the way back into tablet mode, rubber bumpers and the frame around the keyboard lift up. The keyboard frame lifts up to be flush with the top of the keys. Meanwhile, the keys themselves lock into place such that they cannot be pressed down. This is a useful feature as it creates a stable base and removes the worry that keys would accidentally be pressed during a key presentation (even if the existing Yoga already ignores key presses, having a hardware lock in place gives some piece of mind).
Internally, the ThinkPad Yoga can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell Core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 1TB hard drive plus 256GB SSD, large battery, and Wi-Fi, and NFC radios. The OneLink dock will allow users further expansion options by adding Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, and additional display outputs.
The ThinkPad Yoga will be available in November starting at $949. You can find photos of the new PC at the IFA show in Berlin over at Engadget.
Which would you choose, the Yoga 2 Pro with high resolution display or the ThinkPad Yoga with Wacom digitizer and locking keyboard?
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 4, 2013 - 12:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zenbook, ifa 2013, asus
How about some Ultrabooks? We got Ultrabooks. Thin, light, and metal brushed with their characteristic circular pattern. They are proud of that design, proud enough to cover it, the top of the lid, with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from scratches and gouges. It feels a little absurd to say, but covering metal in glass for increased durability seems to make sense and could help your premium laptop look new for longer.
These 13.3-inch laptops come in two resolutions: 1920x1080 Full HD is the lower offering, with 2560x1440 for higher-end tastes. Both monitors are IPS-based with 10-point multi-touch capabilities.
The raw specifications for the UX301 are:
- Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U or i7-4558U
- 4GB or 8GB DDR3L
- Intel HD 5100 Graphics
- SATA 3 SSD (up to 512GB RAID0)
- 13.3-inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD or 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
- 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
- Mini DisplayPort, Micro-HDMI 1.4
- 2x USB3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
- Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro
For the UX302:
- Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U
- 4GB DDR3L
- Intel HD 4400 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (2GB)
- Up to a 750GB HDD with 16 GB SSD cache
- 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
- 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
- Mini Displayport, HDMI 1.4
- 3x USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
- Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro
The UX301 seems to be the more-premium device with obviously higher specs, at least for options, despite being almost 2mm thinner (15.5mm vs 17.2 for the UX302) and a quarter of a pound lighter (1.38kg vs 1.5 kg for the UX302). Both models are listed as a 50W battery, which I assume means 50Wh since watts are not a unit of electrical storage, but I am not entirely sure.
No information about pricing and availability has been released.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | August 31, 2013 - 03:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: LG, AIO, 21:9
HDTVs have an aspect ratio, the proportion between width and height, of 16:9. This, more noticeably rectangular, format was seen as a suitable compromise between 4:3 tradition and the many widths of theatrical releases. Computers, high resolution since the 90s (give-or-take) to fit more stuff on screen, first adopted many HD innovations.
Widescreen, however, was firmly resisted. Internet video was not popular or even known to the general public. Vista, with its sidebar optimizations, was expected to make 16:10 tolerable. 16:9 was too wide to even be considered an effective option for documents and websites.
I must say: I don't know how I'd live without Sidebar making my monitor feel wastefully narrow and...
Now that the public is comfortable with 16:9, because at some point it ceased to be scary for display manufacturers, some are experimenting with even wider niches. 2560x1080 has about a third more width than a "FullHD" panel to add another side-by-side-by-side document to edit or snapped website to refer to. At this point, if people want to buy it, do it.
LG, at IFA 2013, unveiled their V960 all-in-one (AIO) desktop. This computer is housed inside a 29" 21:9 (technically 64:27, but those numbers are big and scary) IPS display. Despite lacking a touchscreen, and despite OSX screenshots for its also announced plain monitors in its promo image, the AIO comes with Windows 8 pre-installed. It houses a mobile GeForce GT 640M GPU and... well that is about all we know of its internals.
The company believes that you might use some screen width for picture-in-picture TV browsing. LG is not too clear on what functionality will be available to the V960. Other monitors in the line contain a TV tuner, but they never specified whether the AIO would have a tuner or just an HDMI input. Also unclear, whether video inputs are accessible to the computer for DVR functionality or whether it is delivered straight to the display.
The LG V960 was on display at IFA 2013. No pricing and availability information has been announced by LG.