Podcast #432 - Kaby Lake, Vega, CES Review

Subject: Editorial | January 12, 2017 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: Vega, Valerie, snapdragon, podcast, nvidia, msi, Lenovo, kaby lake, hdr, hdmi, gus, FreeSync2, dell, coolermaster, CES, asus, AM4, acer, 8k

PC Perspective Podcast #432 - 01/12/17

Join us this week as we DasKeyboard, Samsung 750 EVO, CES predictions and more!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jermery Hellstrom

Program length: 1:45:28

Podcast topics of discussion:
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: 1:42:11 They did it, they beat the hairbrush
  4. Closing/outro

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Source:

New HDMI 2.1 Specification Supports Higher Resolutions, Refresh Rates, and Game Mode VRR

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2017 - 04:22 AM |
Tagged: vrr, variable refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, hdmi, g-sync, freesync, adaptive sync, 48G

The HDMI Forum has introduced an update to the HDMI specification, bringing the video standard to version 2.1. The updated specification, along with its accompanying new "48G" (48 Gbps) HDMI cable, brings support for higher resolutions refresh rates, and color spaces along with new features such as dynamic HDR, a variable refresh rate "Game Mode VRR", and eARC for audio device detection and object oriented audio (e.g. Dolby Atmos). 

HDMI Cable.jpg

Specifically, HDMI 2.1 adds support for 8K resolutions at up to 60 Hz and 4K at up to 120 Hz along with HDR (high dynamic range). The specification is even a bit future looking in that it allegedly supports 10K50/60/100/120 modes! The 8K@60 and 4K@120 (and higher) profiles do require the new 48 Gbps cable though lower resolutions can still get by with the older High Speed cable. The specification also supports BT2020 color spaces with 10, 12, and 16 bits per color component which I expect Ken and Allyn will appreciate.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature though is the Game Mode VRR which appears to be HDMI's take on DisplayPort's Adaptive Sync (which AMD uses for FreeSync). At last year's CES AMD was showing off FreeSync over HDMI (video) with AMD doing FreeSync over HDMI as an extension of the specification. It now appears that HDMI is rolling some manner of that variable refresh technology into the base HDMI 2.1 specification. Variable refresh rates being supported with HDMI is a good thing as it means that future game consoles may see their own FreeSync/G-Sync like variable display output options as I do not see game consoles and living room devices (TVs, receivers, et al) adopting DisplayPort any time soon if only because of the huge install base and foothold HDMI has on that market.

Notably, HDMI 2.1 remains backwards compatible with earlier specifications, cables, and devices based on older HDMI standards including the Ethernet channel and inter-device communication. Existing devices will be able to use HDMI 2.1's 48 Gbps cables but will not be forwards compatible with all of the new features (though partial new feature support might be possible with firmware updates though in no way guaranteed).

The new specification is expected to officially drop in early Q2 2017 at which point it will be available to all HDMI Adopters for testing.

I estimate that, following the compliance testing and device QA, products using the new specification should start shipping as soon as next year (at CES 2018 perhaps!). It is harder to say when graphics cards or game consoles will start supporting the new output though. I would hope that AMD and NVIDIA would be able to sneak it in before Vega and Volta based cards launch respectively but the timing may not have lined up like that. And on the game console side of things, Microsoft and Sony have already launched their revised consoles this year save Scorpio so it might be awhile before they sport variable refresh. Perhaps JoshTekk and the crew will have some thoughts on the podcast next week!

What are your thoughts on HDMI 2.1? Will it lay the groundwork for interesting displays and better living room gaming?

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

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

Source: HDMI Forum

USB Type-C to HDMI is coming soon

Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2016 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: hdmi, usb type-c, HDMI 1.4b

HDMI Licensing have agreed to allow a single cord converter that converts HDMI 1.4b to USB Type-C, no additional dongle required.  The HDMI Alt Mode will support all the features of the new HDMI standard, including 4k resolution and an audio return channel.  That will mean any computer, tablet or other device with Type-C out can be plugged into an HDMI port on an external display with a single cord, no additional dongles or other hassles.  The Register does point out one small defect, the HDMI port is not reversible so you will still have to turn it three times before it will plug in.

usb_c_to_hdmi.png

"HDMI Licensing, the administrator of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) spec, has decided that the time has come to do away with dongles and given the thumb's up to USB-C."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Thecus Announces N4810 4-Bay NAS with 4K Video Output

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
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.

N4810_ANGLE_LARGE1.jpg

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."

4K_Fea_N4810.jpg

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.

Source: Thecus

Podcast #389 - Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: WD, video, uwp, thermaltake, Samsung, reeven, podcast, Okeanos, Microsoft Store, HelioSeal, hdmi, freesync, dx12, Core X9, brontes, ashes of the singularity

PC Perspective Podcast #389 - 03/03/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:32:49

    1. And the VLAN on Saturday!
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:40 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Samsung Curved 1080p Monitors First with AMD FreeSync over HDMI

Subject: Displays | March 2, 2016 - 05:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, freesync, hdmi, Samsung

Earlier this week Samsung formally made a couple of announcements for new monitors due out this spring. The CF591 and CF390 range in size from 23 to 27 inches, mating a 1920x1080 resolution with an 1800R curvature and an attractive design. Even better news for gamers, all of the monitors in these two series will offer AMD's variable refresh rate technology known as FreeSync over HDMI.

cf1.jpg

The specifications of the monitors are interesting in their own light. The CF390 will be available in both 23.5-in and 27-in varieties, with a 1920x1080 resolution on a VA panel, a 4ms response time rating and a maximum brightness of 250 nits. The VA technology allows for solid viewing angles and color reproduction though all of them are limited to a 60Hz maximum refresh rate. The CF591 monitor is only available in a 27-in variety, shares almost all of the same traits, but sheds the glossy black design for a silver and white color option. 

cf2.jpg

Samsung CF390

The CF390 features only VGA (D-Sub) and HDMI inputs while the CF591 overs VGA, dual HDMI and a single DisplayPort connection as well. Only the CF591 allows for audio input through a 3.5mm connection.

cf3.jpg

Samsung CF591

The supposed value of HDMI-based FreeSync is ubiquity and lower cost. Unfortunately, we don't have any pricing information from Samsung on either the CF390 or CF591 monitors, leaving a big question mark for AMD Radeon gamers that might be looking for a new display. Also, while the CF390 directly benefits from the addition of HDMI support on FreeSync, the CF591 still has a DisplayPort connection, meaning the value of HDMI-based FreeSync is lessened.

cf4.jpg

They 60Hz maximum refresh rate is disappointing in a world where 75Hz, 90Hz, even 165Hz monitors are being released left and right. Will the AMD driver-based frame doubling technology work on these displays? I have an inquiry in to AMD to verify but it might be difficult with the VA panels' minimum refresh rate. To be fair to AMD and Samsung though, this isn't marketed as a gaming monitor, just a monitor that happens to have a very gaming friendly option.

Both of these monitors look pretty sexy though; we need to see and test them in person to see if the image quality and FreeSync performance meet our expectations. Hopefully we'll be able to do so soon, but until then, let's hope that Samsung is able to release these at very competitive prices to help drive down the cost of VRR. 

Source: Samsung

CES 2016: AMD Shows Polaris Architecture and HDMI FreeSync Displays

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2016 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: video, Polaris, hdmi, freesync, CES 2016, CES, amd

At its suite at CES this year, AMD was showing off a couple of new technologies. First, we got to see the upcoming Polaris GPU architecture in action running Star Wars Battlefront with some power meters hooked up. This is a similar demo to what I saw in Sonoma back in December, and it compares an upcoming Polaris GPU against the NVIDIA GTX 950. The result: total system power of just 86 watts on the AMD GPU and over 150 watts on the NVIDIA GPU.

Another new development from AMD on the FreeSync side of things was HDMI integration. The company took time at CES to showcase a pair of new HDMI-enabled monitors working with FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. 

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: AMD

Asus Chromebit CS10 Runs Google's Chrome OS Anywhere for $85

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:47 AM |
Tagged: SFF, hdmi stick, hdmi, chromebit, chrome os, asus, arm

Small form factor PCs are big this year, and Google is about to get into the game with its own HDMI dongle PC running Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Asus to release the Chromebit CS10 which is now avaialble for $85.

Asus Chromebit Mini PC.png

The small stick PC weighs 75 grams (2.6 ounces) and will come in black, orange, and eventually blue colors. The Chromebit is about the size of a flash drive with an HDMI port on one end, DC power input on one side, and a single USB 2.0 port on the other end. A removeable cap protects the HDMI output. It is small enough that you can toss it into a bag or tuck it behind a monitor or kiosk permanently. Asus includes an AC power adapter (18W, 1.5 amps) and a flexible HDMI connector (or a short extension cable depending on the region) along with velco stickers in the box.

The Chromebit CS10 is powered by a quad core Rockchip 3288-C SoC featuring four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores and a Mali T624 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and 16GB of eMMC storage. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios along with the USB 2.0 port. Users can hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use the USB port for extra storage, or hook up even more devices using a USB hub.

So far, reviews are positive and generally state that (for example) while the Rockchip ARM processor is no racehorse, it is good enough for basic web browsing, media streaming, and document editing.

Of course, the Chromebit runs the Chrome web browser, but it also can run any of the apps from the Chrome Web Store including Netflix, Office, and any number of free games. Asus is aiming the Chromebit at digital signage, kiosk, thin clients for schools, and for on-the-go travelers.

The Chromebit CS10 is available soon (it is listed as out of stock on Newegg and has not shown up on Amazon or other sites yet) for $85 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Business customers can further purchase the ability to use the Chromebit in a locked down single-app kiosk mode for $24 per user, per year from CDW.

Also read:

Source: Asus
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Thecus

Introduction

The Thecus N2560 is a dual-bay NAS Server powered by an Intel Atom SoC. With the addition of HDMI output could this be the answer for some basic HTPC needs as well?

N2560_HDMI.JPG

The Thecus N2560 at work in the living room

The N2560 is similar in some ways to the Thecus N2310 NAS we looked at a couple of months ago, but it builds on both the functionality and power of that unit. Both are 2-bay designs with support for up to 8TB of storage via dual 4TB hard drives, and they run the same OS (ThecusOS 6). There are some very big differences, too. The N2560 boasts an Intel Atom SoC which provides dual 1.60 GHz cores, compared to the N2310’s single 800 MHz PowerPC core. The N2560 also features a full-size HDMI output as well as SPDIF digital audio output, making it a potential alternative for some HTPC tasks.

The Thecus N2560 is an attractive-looking device, with the smooth lines and finish of a more expensive product. But beyond the N2560's appearance and basic function as a NAS, this is really a server. Digital audio and video output is certainly an impressive addition for a device that retails for around $180, making it a compelling budget HTPC option if the OS and media software work well. Since the basics of the Thecus OS and NAS usage were covered with the N2310, the media output potential of the N2560 is the area of focus for this review.

Continue reading our look at the Thecus N2560 NAS Server!

Manufacturer: StarTech

Introduction and Design

PB063557.jpg

We’re always on the hunt for good docking stations, and sometimes it can be difficult to locate one when you aren’t afforded the luxury of a dedicated docking port. Fortunately, with the advent of USB 3.0 and the greatly improved bandwidth that comes along with it, the options have become considerably more robust.

Today, we’ll take a look at StarTech’s USB3SDOCKHDV, more specifically labeled the Universal USB 3.0 Laptop Docking Station - Dual Video HDMI DVI VGA with Audio and Ethernet (whew). This docking station carries an MSRP of $155 (currently selling for $123 on Amazon.com) and is well above other StarTech options (such as the $100 USBVGADOCK2, which offers just one video output—VGA—10/100 Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 ports). In terms of street price, it is currently available at resellers such as Amazon for around $125.

The big selling points of the USB3SDOCKHDV are its addition of three USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet—but most enticingly, its purported ability to provide three total screens simultaneously (including the connected laptop’s LCD) by way of dual HD video output. This video output can be achieved by way of either HDMI + DVI-D or HDMI + VGA combinations (but not by VGA + DVI-D). We’ll be interested to see how well this functionality works, as well as what sort of toll it takes on the CPU of the connected machine.

Continue reading our review of the StarTech USB3SDOCKHDV USB 3.0 Docking Station!!!