CES 2015: Monoprice Announcements

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2015 - 06:59 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, monoprice, ips, 4k, 120hz, mechanical keyboard, touch screen, drawing

So CES has ended over a week ago, but somehow we missed Monoprice. While they are known for cheap cables that are also good and reliable, the retailer has been pushing out some interesting, self-branded products. At this year's CES, they advertised a multi-touch pen display, a cheap 4K 60Hz monitor, a 30-inch IPS panel that is guaranteed to work at 120Hz 1600p (16:10), and an RGB-backlit mechanical keyboard.

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First up is their 22-inch multi-touch pen display. Not too long ago, I noticed that they had a 22-inch pen display without a touch screen, similar to my Wacom Cintiq 22HD, for under $600. Of course, this got me looking at its product page because that is significantly cheaper than what I paid for mine -- like, several times cheaper. In that page was a warning that it was not suitable for multi-monitor setups, and suggested that users clone it (rather than extending their desktop). Yikes. Okay. That's problematic.

Well now it no longer has that warning, and neither does their new, higher-end version with built-in multi-touch. Hopefully this means that they sorted out their driver (or configuration) issues under Windows.

The display itself is a 22-inch, 1080p, IPS panel with 16.7 million colors (so not 10-bit). It has a 5ms response time, which is good for IPS, but no listing of sRGB or AdobeRGB coverage. This could be problematic for someone looking to use it for professional applications, but being an IPS display it might be okay.

The current price is $550 for the pen-input monitor, and $750 for the pen or 10-point touch model. Both are also compatible with 75mm x 75mm VESA wall mounts, because the writing's on the wall or some pun like that.

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Also launched is a 28-inch 4K display for $449. They do not state the panel technology, but with a reduced vertical viewing angle, which is bad, and a 1ms response time, which is good, it pretty much must be TN. It is a bit sad that it is not IPS, IGZO, PLS, or another high-end panel type, but it is also $449.

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Image Credit: Anandtech

Keeping on the topic of displays, Anandtech was shown a 30-inch, 1600p panel that is guaranteed to run at 120Hz. While we are starting to see a few high refresh rate IPS panels pop up this year, it was the domain of display overclockers before then. Enthusiasts would purchase monitors that were shipped directly from smaller South Korean manufacturers (who typically purchase lesser-binned panels from LG, and so forth) and cross their fingers when they give it a higher refresh rate. This one is guaranteed by Monoprice to run at 120Hz, but it does not yet have pricing and availability.

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Image Credit: Anandtech

Lastly, Anandtech also saw a mechanical keyboard with programmable RGB backlighting. It uses Kailh RGB switches, which are based on the Cherry MX design after the patents expired. Again, no pricing or availability on this one.

Source: Monoprice

Podcast #332 - GTX 960 and R9 380X Rumors, Corsair Carbide 300R Titanium, and our CES 2015 wrap up

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2015 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gtx 960, nvidia, maxwell, amd, r9 380x, corsair, carbide, 300R, CES, ces 2015, ECS, Z97-Machine, Intel, crucial

PC Perspective Podcast #332 - 01/15/2015

Join us this week as we discuss GTX 960 and R9 380X Rumors, Corsair Carbide 300R Titanium, and our CES 2015 wrap up

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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Two of Intel's CES Wearables Powered by ARM Processors

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: wearables, SoC, smartwatch, Intel, ces 2015, CES, arm

Wearable tech shown at this year's CES by Intel included the Intel MICA and Basis PEAK wearables, but a blog post from ARM is reporting that a pair of these devices are powered by an ARM SoC.

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The Intel MICA (Image credit: Intel)

ARM has posted pictures of teardowns from different wearable products, highlighting their presence in these new devices. The pictures we have taken from ARM's blog post show that it is not Intel at the heart of the two particular models we have listed below.

First is the Basis PEAK, and it actually makes a lot of sense that this product would have an ARM SoC considering Intel's aquisition of Basis occurred late in 2014, likely after the development of the PEAK had been completed.

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The Basis PEAK (Image credits: Basis, ARM)

Of course it is likely that Intel has plans to integrate their own mobile chips into future versions of wearable products like the PEAK.

Of some interest however is the SoC within their own MICA luxury wearable.

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The Intel MICA (Image credits: Intel, ARM)

For now, ARM is the industry standard for mobile devices and they are quick to point this out in their their blog post, writing "it’s important to remember that only ARM and its partners can meet the diversity requirements and fuel innovation in this space". Intel seems to be playing the "partner" role for now, though not exclusively as the company's mobile technology is powering the newest ASUS ZenFone, for instance.

Source: ARM IoT Blog

CES 2015: Samsung Monitors and ATIV Computers

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2015 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: UD970, Samsung, S34E790C, ces 2015, ATIV One 7 Curved, ATIV Book 9, ativ

I was invited to a meeting with Samsung on my last day at CES.  The Samsung Pavilion was absolutely packed, but I was able to see a handful of products that should pique the interest of people that are passionate about their monitor technology.  I was led around by Sara and we checked out not only a few monitors, but the latest ATIV PC products.

Up until this point, I thought curved TVs were a gimmick.  I still think curved TVs are a gimmick.  For a living room seating multiple people that will have a different angle to the TV, I believe a flat screen is still the best overall experience.  When it comes to PC usage, my mind has been thoroughly changed.

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Samsung has forged ahead with a curved 21:9 panel that they give the very unwieldy product name of S34E790C.  This is a 34” VA based panel that features a resolution of 3440x1440.  This is not quite 4K resolution, and of course it features the ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio.  This means that it is a bit easier on a video card than a full 4K monitor.  This is simply a stunning looking unit.  The design features a thin bezel and a really solid looking base that adds to the aesthetic rather than detracts.  The rear ports include two HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2, 3.5 mm audio output, power, and a 4 port USB 3.0 hub.

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The base is a solid, curved unit that allows users to raise and lower the panel.  The bezels are again relatively thing so that multiple monitors can be placed together without the bezels becoming distracting.  The unit also features a 100x100 mm VESA mount so that other stands can be used with this monitor.

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Three of these monitors together would make for a tremendous Surround or Eyefinity setup.  There would have to be some serious horsepower in terms of graphics to push that many pixels though.  The curve is not extreme in the least, and the monitors curve around the user in a subtle way.  This would be outstanding for flight sims, racing, and pretty much any game that can utilize a wide FOV.  Samsung showed five of these together, and they blend nearly seamlessly together.  This monitor currently retails around $1400, but MSRP is supposed to be $1,199 US.

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On the professional side they were showing the UD970.  This monitor was released around mid-year in 2014, but they were happy to put it on exhibit at CES.  This is a 3840x2160 (4K) monitor that is aimed directly at professionals with color calibration done at the factory.  When this comes out of the box, it should be in good enough shape to start working directly on professional applications which require a nicely calibrated monitor.  This monitor is the typical flat style rather than the curved unit described above.

 

The ATIVs

Away from the monitors Samsung was showing off their latest all-in-one.  The ATIV One 7 Curved is a 27” AIO that features the latest Intel i5 processor (Broadwell) with the HD 5500 graphics option.  It has 8 GB of memory and a 1 TB hybrid HD (flash and spinning 5400 RPM drive) and runs Windows 8.1.  The screen is a 1080P unit, which is a little disappointing considering the availability of fairly affordable 1440P panels, but that extra cost would drive up price from the very reasonable $1,299 MSRP.

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The machine seemed very snappy and the curved screen again seems very appropriate for PC usage.  Since the user is fairly close, the curve does allow better use of peripheral vision.  The unit is only about 1.5” deep, so we can see exactly why they are using a Broadwell based chip which does not require a tremendous amount of cooling.  It features HDMI in and out ports for use with consoles and other display options.  There are also two 10 watt speakers integrated into the machine which will provide for some pretty impressive integrated sound.  Most speakers in this class are around 2 to 4 watts, so by putting in a couple of 10 watt units there will not be a need by most people to utilize other speaker peripherals.

Probably the most interesting aspect of this product is the SideSync 3.0 software platform.  This application allows users to control their Samsung based Android device.  The demonstration I was given used the Galaxy S5.  The user will see a representation of the phone on their screen and they have access to all of the applications installed on the phone.  Here is what Samsung has to say about SideSync 3.0:

“Through SideSync 3.0, ATIV One 7 Curved users can receive phone calls and text messages forwarded from their Samsung smartphone right to their PC. Users can also control their smartphone from their PC screen, mouse and keyboard through SideSync 3.0’s sharing mode, as well as share content between devices with Samsung Link 2.0. This means that users can save all of their photos, videos, music and more in the ATIV One 7 Curved’s ample 1TB flash drive, and then easily access it from other devices from anywhere in the home.”

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The demonstration was actually pretty slick and it is useful.  It was really funny to see the cursor go from the screen and over to the smartphone and be able to click on the programs icons.

The final product shown to me was the ATIV Book 9.  This is a 12.2” laptop that weighs in at a pretty light 2.09 lbs.  It has a very dense screen that is 2560x1600.  Samsung is bringing back the 16:10 aspect ratio as they found it more useful for productivity work on this particular laptop.  The laptop features the new Broadwell based Intel Core M 5Y70 processor with 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, and around 10.5 hours of battery life.  This particular configuration goes for around $1,400 US when it is released this quarter.

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This probably would have been a much more impressive looking laptop if I had not seen the Dell XPS 13 with an edge to edge display.  That model is around 11” wide and weighs slightly more at 2.6 pounds (2.8 pounds with the touchscreen version).  Still, the ATIV Book 9 is an impressive performer with its 2560x1600 screen and half pound less weight.

After all is said and done, I really want 3 x S34E790Cs.  Now if I can only get more desk space and a couple graphics cards that can push that resolution.

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: Samsung

CES 2015: Deepcool Tristellar and Pentower Mini-ITX Cases Launched with Outlandish Designs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 9, 2015 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: mini-itx, enclosure, Deepcool, ces 2015, CES, cases

Deepcool has announced a couple of new mini-ITX enclosures, and they are anything but average.

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The Deepcool Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)

First we have one of the wildest looking enclosures at I’ve ever seen (other than the In Win D-Frame mini), and it looks very much like an Imperial shuttle (ROTJ, anyone?). With three sections connected to a central hub, the Tristellar has the look of some sort of spacecraft, and would appear at first glance to be rather complicated to build in (though I'd love to find out first-hand).

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Exploded view of the Tristellar (Credit: Legit Reviews)

The enclosure was featured as the basis of an upcoming gaming system from CyberPower, and it would indeed house a capable gaming machine with support for mini-ITX motherboards, full-size graphics cards, and standard ATX power supplies.

The second case is a little more conventional on the surface, but again we have a design that is quite a departure.

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The Pentower enclosure (Credit: Legit Reviews)

The upright Pentower enclosure seems to borrow from the design of the latest-gen Mac Pro (albeit in a less cylindrical fashion), but is not built upon the Mac’s cooling design (in which the CPU and GPU are directly connected to the large central heatsink). Such a design seems ideal for this enclosure shape, but Deepcool has implemented their own air cooling system here.

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The Mac Pro’s thermal design (Credit: Apple, Inc)

With the Pentower standard components can be used and installation should be relatively easy since “after the shell is removed, all of the panels and trestles are exposed (and) users can install units directly without uninstall(ing) any other part of the case“, according to the press release.

There is no listing for the Tristellar or Pentower cases on the Deepcool website as of today, and naturally pricing and availability have not been announced.

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: 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.

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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.

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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: ASUS Talks 500 Million Motherboard Mark, Ecosystem Goals

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: video, ces 2015, CES, asus, 500 million motherboards

In 2014, ASUS crossed the 500 million motherboards sold mark for total units, an achievement to be proud of for certain. And while I would have thought that the awesome keychains made for the occasion that feature the X99-Deluxe on one side and the ISA-386C from 1989 on the other would be enough, ASUS is going to go further. Expect a several month long celebration that will feature unique content, prizes and giveaways as well as special edition hardware like the Sabertooth Z97 Mark S and its all white PCB.

I got the chance to speak with Dennis Pang about the 500 million mark, what the company sees as its vision for the immediate future and how it has used its experience to move into other consumer markets like keyboards, mice, monitors, networking and more.

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: Silicon Motion SM2256 seen in action, capable of hybrid TLC/SLC caching

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, silicon motion, SM2256, ssd, tlc, slc

We first saw the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller at Flash Memory Summit, but now we've seen it live, in action, and driving several different types of TLC NAND.

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Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:

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The performance looked very good considering the 2256 is designed to efficiently push TLC flash, which is slower than MLC. As their representative was explaining that the SM2256 is currently being tested with Samsung, Toshiba, and SK Hynix TLC flash, I noticed the HDTune write trace:

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Those familiar with HDTune and Samsung SSDs with Samsung's TurboWrite cache (from the 840/850 EVO) will recognize the above - the SSD begins writing at SLC speed and after that cache is full, the SSD then drops to writing at TLC speed. I specifically asked about this, as we've only Samsung flash provisioned with an SLC portion of each die, and the answer was that Toshiba and SK Hynix TLC flash also supports such a subdivision. This is good news, as it means increased competition from competing SSDs that can accomplish the same SLC burst writes as the Samsung EVO series.

We heard from a few vendors that will soon be launching SM2256 equipped SSDs this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity to see what they are capable of.

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: Mushkin launches Striker SSD, teases 4TB consumer PCIe, new M.2 and SandForce SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:00 AM |
Tagged: Striker, ssd, Mushkin, ces 2015, CES

At CES 2015, Mushkin launches their Striker 2.5" SSD product line:

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The Striker is based on the Phison S10 controller, which should perform comparably to the Neutron XT that we reviewed back in November. We should point out that in the above photo, the Striker is sitting next to the Reactor, which is currently selling for $0.36/GB on Newegg.

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This is a prototype of looks is to be a monster of a budget PCIe SSD. Using a Marvell SATA RAID chip to link four Silicon Motion controlled SSDs together in RAID-0, this beast is to (hopefully) be available in 960GB all the way up to 4TB capacities, and Mushkin is targeting $0.50/GB or lower when it launches later this year.

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Details are slim here, but Mushkin is smartly jumping on the M.2 bandwagon.

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SandForce has had their new controller in the works for far too long (we saw silicon demos like this last CES in fact), but we are hoping to see actual product released this year. Note this delay is solely due to delays in SandForce's development process.

Full press blast for the Striker after the break.

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: Mushkin