Subject: Displays | January 5, 2017 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Westinghouse, Ultra HD, UHD, tv, television, seiki, FireTV, Element, CES 2017, CES, amazon, Alexa, 4k
In a market packed with UHD TVs, a trio of budget television manufacturers have introduced new Amazon Fire TV-powered 4K televisions at CES, with new models announced from Seiki, Westinghouse, and Element. These TVs are "the world’s first 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs with Amazon Fire TV built in", with remotes supporting Alexa voice commands.
Quoting the press release, the new models from Seiki, Westinghouse, and Element will all offer the following features:
- Sizes: 43", 50", 55" and 65"
- 4K Ultra HD 3,840 by 2,160 panel resolution on all models
- The latest Amazon Fire TV user interface, including easy access to over-the-air TV programming (separate HD antenna required), simple TV input setup, and component switching
- Through the included voice remote with Alexa, customers can search for content and programming, control TV inputs and settings, and access Alexa skills to play music, get the news, check weather, sports scores, and more
- Voice remote with Alexa enabled control of smart home devices from multiple brands, including Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Wink, Insteon, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, TP-Link, Ecobee and more
- Access to more than 7,000 channels, games, apps and Alexa skills, including over 300,000 TV episodes and movies from Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu and more
- Amazon Prime customers get unlimited access to Prime Video, featuring thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost to their membership. Plus, with Amazon Channels, Prime members can now get HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, PBS KIDS, and over 100 more services. They only pay for the channels they want—no cable required, no additional apps to download, and easy online cancellation.
- 3 GB memory and 16 GB internal storage
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet connectivity
- Streaming resolution at 4K Ultra HD (2160p), 1080p, 720p up to 60 fps
- One-year limited warranty and great customer support
We have seen a similar idea with Roku TVs from Hisense, TCL, and others, as budget TV makers look to differentiate themselves; and the integration of the popular Amazon Fire TV for the OS may help position Seiki and company more favorably. Hopefully improvements in backlighting tech and UHD panel production cost reductions will result in a "trickle-down" effect for better picture quality for TVs selected on cost alone, but for now improved user interface design can go a long way in making these budget TVs pleasant to use.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Displays | December 14, 2016 - 05:46 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: monitor, LG, ips, high dynamic range, hdr, display, 4k
Ahead of CES 2017 LG has announced their upcoming monitor lineup, which features an HDR (high dynamic range) model. The 32UD99 is a 32-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS display that offers 95% DCI-P3 color and HDR10 support. (Specifics as to peak brightness, rated black levels have not been released.)
From LG's press release (pdf):
“As the availability of HDR (high dynamic range) content continues to expand across a wide range of categories, from movies to games, LG is leading the way in bringing this enhancement to desktop monitors,” said to Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA. “The enhanced picture quality offered by HDR technology is instantly recognizable to even the most casual user, and manufacturers are already pushing this promising technology to its fullest potential. From high-resolution displays compatible with HDR technology, to UltraWide monitors optimized for multitasking and gaming, LG is committed to delivering the most state-of-the-art and premium monitors in the industry today.”
HDR is a somewhat complex standard, incorporating requirements for bit depth and supported color space, brightness level, and black levels for the display - along with compatibility with one of the HDR standards; HDR10 or Dolby Vision. The fact that LG is using IPS for their new montior seems problematic given the high black levels associated with IPS (unless sophisticated local dimming is employed, such as with LG's Infinia televisions of a few years ago), as most HDR sets employ a VA panel of some kind. Of note, rival Panasonic only recently announced their work on very high native contrast IPS panels, but there is no indication that LG has developed a similar technology at this point.
HDR is all the rage in the 4K television world, and for gaming both Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles support the more common HDR10 implementation - with compatible games, UHD Blu-ray, and streaming content, that is. It was inevitable that HDR would make its way into the computer display space, and presumably more and more PC games will be offering support going forward (Shadow Warrior 2 was the first title to support HDR on PC). A quick primer on HDR (with respect to the "Premium" standard from the UHD Alliance) can be found here, and only time will tell if the HDR10 standard will win out over Dolby Vision, though at this point it seems likely.
Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2016 - 02:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: g-sync, Predator XB321HK, acer, 4k, ips
Thanks to DisplayPort 1.2's bandwidth being limited to a maximum of 17.28Gbit/s, shoppers looking for a high end variable refresh rate gaming monitor have a tough choice to make. Leave aside aspect ratio, colour depth and panel type for the immediate question; do you prefer the higher definition of a 4K display but with a limited maximum refresh rate or will you be satisfied by 1440p or 1080p with a refresh rate that can hit upwards of 200Hz? The Predator XB321HK chooses path of greater resolution, offering 3840x2160 but with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, on an IPS screen with 4ms grey to grey response time. If you prefer an MVA ultra-widescreen with a higher resolution, perhaps investigate the Acer Z35, if the XB321HK is closer to what you are looking for check Hardware Canucks full review here.
"With a sensible 4K form factor, a G-SYNC module and a stunning IPS panel, Acer's Predator XB321HK is the stuff gaming monitor dreams are made of. Unfortunately its refresh rate is limited by today's interface technology."
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- Philips Brilliance 28-inch 288P6 4K Monitor @ eTeknix
- AOC AGON AG271QX Adaptive-Sync Gaming Monitor @ Kitguru
Subject: Mobile | November 7, 2016 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, 4k, GTX 1060M
You have two choices of display when purchasing an MSI GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, a 120Hz 1080p which is neither FreeSync nor GSYNC or a 4K display. It is the 4K version which Kitguru has reviewed, powered by the mobile version of the GTX 1060, an i7-6700HQ and 16GB of DDR4-2400. Storage is handled by a PCIe based M.2 SSD as well as a HDD for extra storage. Kitguru loved the look of the panel but unfortunately the 1060M just doesn't have the power to game at that resolution; it also came with more third party software than they would have liked but that did not ruin it for them. Check out the full review here.
"MSI have been producing a fine line of gaming-oriented laptops for the last couple of years and today we look at their latest super slimline 17 inch model which features a Core i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics, and a 4k IPS panel along with Steelseries keyboard and Killer networking."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Surface 4 Pro - A Real Laptop Replacement @ Hardware Secrets
- Microsoft's Surface Studio desk-slab, Dial knob, Surface Book: We get our claws on new kit @ The Register
- The honor 8 Aurora Glass Smartphone @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2016 - 04:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google, chromecast, media streaming, 4k, hdr, google home
During Google's #madebygoogle event (embedded below), the company introduced a number of new pieces of hardware including a new Chromecast. The Chromecast Ultra is aimed at owners of 4K televisions and supports both 4K Ultra HD and HDR content from the likes of Netflix, YouTube, and other apps. Like previous models, the Chromecast takes input from Android, iOS, Mac OSX, and Windows devices that "cast" media to the TV. Additionally, it can be paired with Google Home where users can use voice commands such as "Ok, Google. Play the sneezing panda video on my TV."
The Chromecast Ultra is a small circular puck with a Micro USB port and a short flexible flat HDMI cable that is permanently attached to the device. The Micro USB port is used for both power and data. One neat feature about the new Chromecast Ultra is that the power adpater has an Ethernet port on it so that users can hook the streaming device up to their wired network for better performance (important for streaming 4K content). Not to worry if you rely on WiFi though because it does support dual band 802.11ac.
Google has not yet revealed what hardware is under the hood of its new 4k capable Chromecast, unfortunately. They did release pricing information though: the Chromecast Ultra will be $69 and is "coming soon". If you are interested you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available.
Subject: Mobile | August 19, 2016 - 03:46 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: UHD, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebook, laptop, GX800, GTX 1080, gaming, g-sync, asus, 4k
ASUS has announced perhaps the most impressively-equipped gaming laptop to date. Not only does the new ROG GX800 offer dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics in SLI, but these cards are powering an 18-inch 4K display panel with NVIDIA G-SYNC.
Not enough? The system also offers liquid cooling (via the liquid-cooling dock) which allows for overclocking of the CPU, graphics, and memory.
"ROG GX800 is the world’s first 18-inch real 4K UHD gaming laptop to feature the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 in 2-Way SLI. It gives gamers desktop-like gaming performance, silky-smooth gameplay and detailed 4K UHD gaming environments. The liquid-cooled ROG GX800 features the ROG-exclusive Hydro Overclocking System that allows for extreme overclocking of the processor, graphics card and DRAM. In 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike Ultra benchmark tests, a ROG GX800 equipped with the Hydro Overclocking System scored 76% higher than other gaming laptops in the market.
ROG GX800 comes with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology and has plug-and-play compatibility with leading VR headsets to allow gamers to enjoy truly immersive VR environments. It has the MechTAG (Mechanical Tactile Advanced Gaming) keyboard with mechanical switches and customizable RGB LED backlighting for each key."
Specifics on availability and pricing were not included in the announcement.
Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay
Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.
Image credit: Thecus
"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.
Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."
Image credit: Thecus
The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.
Introduction and Specifications
Dell's premium XPS notebook family includes both 15 inch and 13 inch variants, and ship with the latest 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors and all of the latest hardware. But the screens are what will grab your immediate attention; bright, rich, and with the narrowest bezels on any notebook courtesy of Dell's InfinityEdge displays.
Since Ryan’s review of the XPS 13, which is now his daily driver, Dell has added the XPS 15, which is the smallest 15-inch notebook design you will find anywhere. The XPS 13 is already "the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet", according to Dell, giving their XPS series a significant advantage in the ultrabook market. The secret is in the bezel, or lack thereof, which allows Dell to squeeze these notebooks into much smaller physical dimensions than you might expect given their display sizes.
But you get more than just a compact size with these XPS notebooks, as the overall quality of the machines rivals that of anything else you will find; and may just be the best Windows notebooks you can buy right now. Is this simply bluster? Notebooks, like smartphones, are a personal thing. They need to conform to the user to provide a great experience, and there are obviously many different kinds of users to satisfy. Ultimately, however, Dell has produced what could easily be described as class leaders with these machines.
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 01:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rumor, Polaris, opinion, HDMI 2.0, gpu, gddr5x, GDDR5, GCN, amd, 4k
While Nvidia's Pascal has held the spotlight in the news recently, it is not the only new GPU architecture debuting this year. AMD will soon be bringing its Polaris-based graphics cards to market for notebooks and mainstream desktop users. While several different code names have been thrown around for these new chips, they are consistently in general terms referred to as Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. AMD's Raja Kudori stated in an interview with PC Perspective that the numbers used in the naming scheme hold no special significance, but eventually Polaris will be used across the entire performance lineup (low end to high end graphics).
Naturally, there are going to be many rumors and leaks as the launch gets closer. In fact, Tech Power Up recently came into a number of interesting details about AMD's plans for Polaris-based graphics in 2016 including specifications and which areas of the market each chip is going to be aimed at.
Citing the usual "industry sources" familiar with the matter (take that for what it's worth, but the specifications do not seem out of the realm of possibility), Tech Power Up revealed that there are two lines of Polaris-based GPUs that will be made available this year. Polaris 10 will allegedly occupy the mid-range (mainstream) graphics option in desktops as well as being the basis for high end gaming notebook graphics chips. On the other hand, Polaris 11 will reportedly be a smaller chip aimed at thin-and-light notebooks and mainstream laptops.
Now, for the juicy bits of the leak: the rumored specifications!
AMD's "Polaris 10" GPU will feature 32 compute units (CUs) which TPU estimates – based on the assumption that each CU still contains 64 shaders on Polaris – works out to 2,048 shaders. The GPU further features a 256-bit memory interface along with a memory controller supporting GDDR5 and GDDR5X (though not at the same time heh). This would leave room for cheaper Polaris 10 derived products with less than 32 CUs and/or cheaper GDDR5 memory. Graphics cards would have as much as 8GB of memory initially clocked at 7 Gbps. Reportedly, the full 32 CU GPU is rated at 5.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power and runs at a TDP of no more than 150 watts.
Compared to the existing Hawaii-based R9 390X, the upcoming R9 400 Polaris 10 series GPU has fewer shaders and less memory bandwidth. The memory is clocked 1 GHz higher, but the GDDR5X memory bus is half that of the 390X's 512-bit GDDR5 bus which results in 224 GB/s memory bandwidth for Polaris 10 versus 384 GB/s on Hawaii. The R9 390X has a slight edge in compute performance at 5.9 TFLOPS versus Polaris 10's 5.5 TFLOPS however the Polaris 10 GPU is using much less power and easily wins at performance per watt! It almost reaches the same level of single precision compute performance at nearly half the power which is impressive if it holds true!
|R9 390X||R9 390||R9 380||R9 400-Series "Polaris 10"|
|GPU Code name||Grenada (Hawaii)||Grenada (Hawaii)||Antigua (Tonga)||Polaris 10|
|Rated Clock||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||970 MHz||~1343 MHz|
|Memory Clock||6000 MHz||6000 MHz||5700 MHz||7000 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||384 GB/s||384 GB/s||182.4 GB/s||224 GB/s|
|TDP||275 watts||275 watts||190 watts||150 watts (or less)|
|Peak Compute||5.9 TFLOPS||5.1 TFLOPS||3.48 TFLOPS||5.5 TFLOPS|
|MSRP (current)||~$400||~$310||~$199||$ unknown|
Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 5.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)
Another comparison that can be made is to the Radeon R9 380 which is a Tonga-based GPU with similar TDP. In this matchup, the Polaris 10 based chip will – at a slightly lower TDP – pack in more shaders, twice the amount of faster clocked memory with 23% more bandwidth, and provide a 58% increase in single precision compute horsepower. Not too shabby!
Likely, a good portion of these increases are made possible by the move to a smaller process node and utilizing FinFET "tri-gate" like transistors on the Samsung/Globalfoundries 14LPP FinFET manufacturing process, though AMD has also made some architecture tweaks and hardware additions to the GCN 4.0 based processors. A brief high level introduction is said to be made today in a webinar for their partners (though AMD has come out and said preemptively that no technical nitty-gritty details will be divulged yet). (Update: Tech Altar summarized the partner webinar. Unfortunately there was no major reveals other than that AMD will not be limiting AIB partners from pushing for the highest factory overclocks they can get).
Moving on from Polaris 10 for a bit, Polaris 11 is rumored to be a smaller GCN 4.0 chip that will top out at 14 CUs (estimated 896 shaders/stream processors) and 2.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power. These chips aimed at mainstream and thin-and-light laptops will have 50W TDPs and will be paired with up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory. There is apparently no GDDR5X option for these, which makes sense at this price point and performance level. The 128-bit bus is a bit limiting, but this is a low end mobile chip we are talking about here...
|R7 370||R7 400 Series "Polaris 11"|
|GPU Code name||Trinidad (Pitcairn)||Polaris 11|
925 MHz base (975 MHz boost)
|Memory||2 or 4GB||4GB|
|Memory Clock||5600 MHz||? MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||179.2 GB/s||? GB/s|
|TDP||110 watts||50 watts|
|Peak Compute||1.89 TFLOPS||2.5 TFLOPS|
|MSRP (current)||~$140 (less after rebates and sales)||$?|
Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 2.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)
Fewer details were unveiled concerning Polaris 11, as you can see from the chart above. From what we know so far, it should be a promising successor to the R7 370 series even with the memory bus limitation and lower shader count as the GPU should be clocked higher, (it also might have more shaders in M series mobile variants versus of the 370 and lower mobile series) and a much lower TDP for at least equivalent if not a decent increase in performance. The lower power usage in particular will be hugely welcomed in mobile devices as it will result in longer battery life under the same workloads, ideally. I picked the R7 370 as the comparison as it has 4 gigabytes of memory and not that many more shaders and being a desktop chip readers may be more widely familiar with it. It also appears to sit between the R7 360 and R7 370 in terms of shader count and other features but is allegedly going to be faster than both of them while using at least (on paper) less than half the power.
Of course these are still rumors until AMD makes Polaris officially, well, official with a product launch. The claimed specifications appear reasonable though, and based on that there are a few important takeaways and thoughts I have.
The first thing on my mind is that AMD is taking an interesting direction here. While NVIDIA has chosen to start out its new generation at the top by announcing "big Pascal" GP100 and actually launching the GP104 GTX 1080 (one of its highest end consumer chips/cards) yesterday and then over the course of the year introducing lower end products AMD has opted for the opposite approach. AMD will be starting closer to the lower end with a mainstream notebook chip and high end notebook/mainstream desktop GPU (Polaris 11 and 10 respectively) and then over a year fleshing out its product stack (remember Raja Kudori stated Polaris and GCN 4 would be used across the entire product stack) and building up with bigger and higher end GPUs over time finally topping off with its highest end consumer (and professional) GPUs based on "Vega" in 2017.
This means, and I'm not sure if this was planned by either Nvidia or AMD or just how it happened to work out based on them following their own GPU philosophies (but I'm thinking the latter), that for some time after both architectures are launched AMD and NVIDIA's newest architectures and GPUs will not be directly competing with each other. Eventually they should meet in the middle (maybe late this year?) with a mid-range desktop graphics card and it will be interesting to see how they stack up at similar price points and hardware levels. Then, of course once "Vega" based GPUs hit (sadly probably in time for NV's big Pascal to launch heh. I'm not sure if Vega is Fury X replacement only or even beyond that to 1080Ti or even GP100 competitor) we should see GCN 4 on the new smaller process node square up against NVIDIA and it's 16nm Pascal products across the board (entire lineup). Which will have the better performance, which will win out in power usage and performance/watt and performance/$? All questions I wish I knew the answers to, but sadly do not!!
Speaking of price and performance/$... Polaris is actually looking pretty good so far at hitting much lower TDPs and power usage targets while delivering at least similar performance if not a good bit more. Both AMD and NVIDIA appear to be bringing out GPUs better than I expected to see as far as technological improvements in performance and power usage (these die shrinks have really helped even though from here on out that trend isn't really going to continue...). I hope that AMD can at least match NV in these areas at the mid range even if they do not have a high end GPU coming out soon (not until sometime after these cards launch and not really until Vega, the high end GCN GPU successor). At least on paper based on the leaked information the GPUs so far look good. My only worry is going to be pricing which I think is going to make or break these cards. AMD will need to price them competitively and aggressively to ensure their adoption and success.
I hope that doing the rollout this way (starting with lower end chips) helps AMD to iron out the new smaller process node and that they are able to get good yields so that they can be aggressive with pricing here and eventually at the hgh end!
I am looking forward to more information on AMD's Polaris architecture and the graphics cards based on it!
- AMD Capsaicin GDC Live Stream and Live Blog TODAY!!
- AMD GPU Roadmap: Capsaicin Names Upcoming Architectures
- AMD's Raja Koduri talks moving past CrossFire, smaller GPU dies, HBM2 and more.
- AMD High-End Polaris Expected for 2016
- CES 2016: AMD Shows Polaris Architecture and HDMI FreeSync Displays
I will admit that I am not 100% up on all the rumors and I apologize for that. With that said, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on AMD's upcoming GPUs and what you think about these latest rumors!
Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 12:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: UHD, 4k
With companies at CES showing off 8K displays it seems that the standards body for UHD felt the need to actually get around to setting a standard for what constitutes a 4K display. Like USB.org or the IEEE, the UHD Alliance is a body which is supposed to set standards on the various devices we buy so we can know the minimum specifications of the product, unfortunately the UHD Alliance seems to suffer from input lag. As you would expect, a resolution of 3840 x 2160 is required to bear the "Ultra HD Premium" logo, as well as 10-bit colour and minimum support for colour representation and dynamic range specifications. The standard applies to both manufacturers and content providers such as Netflix. You can read more about this slightly tardy standard over at The Register.
"The UHD Alliance has delivered its promised spec setting down minimum standards for what constitutes 4K. While 4K of some kind has been around for a decade, it was only in 2015 that the industry decided standards were needed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The new Huawei is the world's fastest phone @ The Register
- Encrypted Blackphone Patches Serious Modem Flaw @ Slashdot
- Longing to bin Photoshop? Rock-solid GIMP a major leap forward @ The Register
- Malvertising Campaign Used a Free Certificate From Let's Encrypt @ Slashdot
- Intel RealSense and Google Project Tango smartphone is on pre-order for $399 @ The Inquirer