Podcast #464 - Vega Redux, Intel 8th Gen Core, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2017 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, vlan, video, samsung galaxy note 8, rx vega, podcast, Linksys WRT32x, kaby lake, Intel, ice lake, htc vive, ECS, Core, asus zenphone 4, acer predator z271t

PC Perspective Podcast #464 - 08/17/17

Join us for continued discussion on RX Vega, Intel 8th Gen Core, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:34:56

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:07:54 Let’s talk about RX Vega!
      1. My Review
      2. Pricing concerns
      3. Availability
      4. Different die packages
      5. Locked BIOS
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:26:45 Allyn: Razer Blade
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

HTC Vive Price Drops to $599

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, vive, htc vive, valve, htc, price cut

While it looked like HTC and Valve wouldn’t budge on their launch price, the Vive has just been reduced $200 USD, from $799 down to $599. This is still significantly above the $399 USD price tag during their competitor’s summer sale, but it might be close enough for those who prefer the Vive for one reason or another.

I should note that their website still has payment plans through PayPal, which breaks up the $599 price tag into, they say, twelve chunks.

For me? This price cut came just a week and a bit late. I already picked up the Oculus. For us Canadians, it looks like the Vive sale price is $800 CDN on Amazon, versus the $550 mark for the Rift with Touch and two sensors. That said, if I didn’t jump on the Oculus... would I consider the Vive? At this price, I’m still not sure. I’m wary of a hardware refresh, now that these devices are hitting the one-and-a-half year mark. The Oculus, during its sale, is priced in the “Meh” territory. It would have served its purpose until it’s replaced. The extra couple hundred dollars on the Vive might just push it out of the “eh, if it’s replaced, so what” range.

On the other hand, the Vive can be upgraded with a wireless kit, and I do have issues with the Oculus sensors being obstructed. It’s an interesting move for sure.

Source: Vive

Wearable VR? The MSI VR ONE backpack system gets reviewed

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: msi, VR One, htc vive, oculus rift

MSI states their VR One is the world’s lightest and thinnest backpack PC system with high performance, which makes sense considering the utter lack of competition in that area.  It may also claim to be the most expensive, as the price ranges from $1700 to $2300 in cost; [H]ard|OCP tested out the high end model in their recent review.  Inside is a Kaby Lake Core i7-7820HK, 16GB of 2166MHz DDR4, dual M.2 storage drives, and the mobile version of the GTX 1070; certainly enough to power a Rift or Vive.  The battery life is more impressive than you might expect, starting from 92% it lasted 1 hour and 37 and from 96% 1 hour and 41 minutes, with 2 hours required to recharge the battery over 95%.  It is an investment but being able to experience VR without tripping on cords is an attractive proposition.

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"The MSI VR ONE is quite simply a full PC that comes in the form of a backpack that allows you to connect your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift for a "wireless" VR experience. This VR ONE unit packs a GTX 1070 laptop GPU to hopefully supply us with the needed 90 frames per second performance required for a perfect Virtual Reality experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #430 - Holiday Special

Subject: Editorial | December 20, 2016 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: robot chef, racing chairs, podcast, personal aerial drone, logitech G810, littlebits, htc vive, hololens, holiday, drobo, 3d printer

PC Perspective Podcast #430 - 12/20/16

Join us this week as we discuss holiday gift selections 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, David Hewlett

Program length: 1:36:05

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Gift Selections
    1. 0:02:19 David - Robot Kitchen
    2. 0:09:13 Ryan - Random Hardware
    3. 0:10:28 Group Discussion - Storage, Backups, Joysticks
    4. 0:12:48 Ryan - SimpliSafe Security System
    5. 0:19:50 Jeremy - LittleBits
    6. 0:26:30 Allyn - SSDs!!!!
    7. 0:33:37 Josh - Racing Chair
    8. 0:39:43 David - Personal Aerial Drone
    9. 0:45:02 Ryan - IR Thermometer
    10. 0:49:09 Allyn - Dromida Ominus
    11. 0:53:00 Jeremy - Victorinox CyberTool M
    12. 0:58:10 Josh - Logitech RGB G810
    13. 1:00:00 Ken - Monoprice Maker Select Mini 3D Printer
    14. 1:05:26 Ryan - HTC Vive
    15. 1:14:08 David - Microsoft Hololens
    16. 1:19:03 Ryan - Sony A7x
    17. 1:19:45 Josh - Monoprice Ear Buds
    18. 1:23:10 David / Allyn - Drobo B810n
  2. Postscript
    1. 1:29:12 David - UpgradeRequired.org
  3. Closing/outro

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

Source:

NVIDIA GeForce GTX, HTC VIVE Bundle Deal at GeForce.com

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, geforce, htc vive, VR, game bundle

AMD's RX 480 and Fury X are capable of providing decent performance in VR applications and will save you some money for the VR headset, dongles and games.  However NVIDIA upped the ante today, giving away three games to anyone who purchases a GTX 1080, 1070 or 1060 and an HTC Vive. 

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The giveaway encompasses more than North America, as long as you can purchase the bundle from either Microsoft or NewEgg where you happen to live you should be able to get your three free games.  They are redeemable on Steam and should be available immediately, a peek at Sports Bar VR is below.

 

Source: NVIDIA
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

Maybe Good that Valve Called their API OpenVR?

Update, December 6th, 2016 @ 2:46pm EST: Khronos has updated the images on their website, and those changes are now implemented on our post. The flow-chart image changed dramatically, but the members image has also added LunarG.

Original Post Below

The Khronos Group has just announced their VR initiative, which is in the early, call for participation stage. The goal is to produce an API that can be targeted by drivers from each vendor, so that applications can write once and target all compatible devices. The current list of participants are: Epic Games, Google, Oculus VR, Razer, Valve, AMD, ARM, Intel, NVIDIA, VeriSilicon, Sensics, and Tobii. The point of this announcement is to get even more companies involved, before it matures.

khronos-2016-vr-members-2.png

Image Credit: The Khronos Group

Valve, in particular, has donated their OpenVR API to Khronos Group. I assume that this will provide the starting point for the initiative, similar to how AMD donated Mantle to found Vulkan, which overcomes the decision paralysis of a blank canvas. Also, especially for VR, I doubt these decisions would significantly affect individual implementations. If it does, though, now would be the time for them to propose edits.

In terms of time-frame, it’s early enough that the project scope hasn’t even been defined, so schedules can vary. They do claim that, based on past experiences, about 18 months is “often typical”.

That’s about it for the announcement; on to my analysis.

khronos-2016-vr-perpectives-2.png

Image Credit: The Khronos Group, modified

First, it’s good that The Khronos Group are the ones taking this on. Not only do they have the weight to influence the industry, especially with most of these companies having already collaborated on other projects, like OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan, but their standards tend to embrace extensions. This allows Oculus, Valve, and others to add special functionality that can be picked up by applications, but still be compatible at a base level with the rest of the ecosystem. To be clear, the announcement said nothing about extensions, but it would definitely make sense for VR, which can vary with interface methods, eye-tracking, player tracking, and so forth.

If extensions end up being a thing, this controlled competition allows the standard as a whole to evolve. If an extension ends up being popular, that guides development of multi-vendor extensions, which eventually may be absorbed into the core specification. On the other hand, The Khronos Group might decide that, for VR specifically, the core functionality is small and stable enough that extensions would be unnecessary. Who knows at this point.

Second, The Khronos Group stated that Razer joined for this initiative specifically. A few days ago, we posted news and assumed that they wanted to have input into an existing initiative, like Vulkan. While they still might, their main intentions are to contribute to this VR platform.

Third, there are a few interesting omissions from the list of companies.

microsoft-2016-hololens-hero.png

Microsoft, who recently announced a VR ecosystem for Windows 10 (along with the possibly-applicable HoloLens of course), and is a member of the Khronos Group, isn’t part of the initiative, at least not yet. This makes sense from a historical standpoint, as Microsoft tends to assert control over APIs from the ground up. They are, or I should say were, fairly reluctant to collaborate, unless absolutely necessary. This has changed recently, starting with their participation with the W3C, because good God I hope web browsers conform to a standard, but also their recent membership with the Khronos Group, hiring ex-Mozilla employees, and so forth. Microsoft has been lauding how they embrace openness lately, but not in this way yet.

Speaking of Mozilla, that non-profit organization has been partnered with Google on WebVR for a few years now. While Google is a member of this announcement, it seems to be mostly based around their Daydream initiative. The lack of WebVR involvement with whatever API comes out of this initiative is a bit disappointing, but, again, it’s early days. I hope to see Mozilla and the web browser side of Google jump in and participate, especially if video game engines continue to experiment with cross-compiling to Web standards.

It's also surprising to not see Qualcomm's name on this list. The dominant mobile SoC vendor is a part of many Khronos-based groups including Vulkan, OpenCL, and others, so it's odd to have this omission here. It is early, so there isn't any reason to have concern over a split, but Qualcomm's strides into VR with development kits, platform advancements and other initiatives have picked up in recent months and I imagine it will have input on what this standard becomes.

And that’s all that I can think of at the moment. If you have any interests or concerns, be sure to drop a line in the comments. Registration is not required.

HTC Announces Wireless Kit from TPCAST for Vive VR

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 11:36 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, htc, htc vive

UploadVR is reporting that a wireless upgrade kit was on display at a trade-show by Alibaba in Shenzhen, China. TPCAST, the company that created the accessory for the headset, is a participant in the Vive X program. This startup accelerator provides $50,000 to $200,000, mentorship, and other support to assist development of VR-related technologies. HTC claims that TPCAST's wireless solution will perform equivalently to the default, wired configuration.

htc-2016-tpcast-wireless-vive.jpg

Image Credit: UploadVR

Wireless almost always requires a battery, and HTC claims that two will be available. The default “standard” battery is expected to last about 90 minutes, although they plan a larger battery that fits in the pocket of the individual's clothing. UploadVR doesn't mention anything about price or capacity of this one, although I hope that the wiring from clothes to headset is easily managed.

The upgrade kit will cost about $220, when converted into USD from Chinese Yuan, and begins pre-order on November 11th at 7am PST. The units will ship in early 2017 with current owners of the HTC Vive (authenticated by serial number) getting bumped to the front of the line. I'm guessing this is to gut the scalping market, which is nice, unless they goof and allow unlimited orders for a single serial number.

Source: UploadVR

The Brookhaven Experiment, the next in the new wave of VR shooters

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: brookhaven experiment, VR, amd, nvidia, htc vive

[H]ard|OCP has a new Vive title to test on AMD and NVIDIA silicon, a wave shooter with some horror elements called The Brookhaven Experiment.  As with most of these games they found some interesting results in the testing, in this case the GPU load stayed very consistent, regardless of how much was on the screen at any time.  The graphical settings in this title are quite bare but it does support supersampling, which [H]ard|OCP recommends you turn on when playing the game, if your system can support it.  Check out the rankings in their full review.

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"If naked mutants from another dimension with horribly bad skin conditions interests you, this is YOUR VR game! The Brookhaven Experiment is a tremendously intense 360 degree wave shooter that will keep you on your toes, give you a workout, and probably scare the piss out of you along the way. How do AMD and NVIDIA stack up in VR?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Close counts in this hotdogging VR game

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2016 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: VR, htc vive, H3VR, gaming

Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is a VR game built on Unity which features a "Authentic ‘Murican BBQ experience with obsessively detailed grilling simulation" as well as bocce, lawn darts and hand grenade skeet shooting.  [H]ard|OCP tested out the Early Access version of this Vive title on their usual GPU suspects, it is worth mentioning the i7-6950X @ 4.2GHz as well since the developer feels that CPU could also be an issue.  This title continued the unfortunate trend we have seen with AMD cards, RX 480 performance lagged behind even the GTX 1060 and there were several crashes during testing.  For the moment NVIDIA is enjoying unchallenged status in VR gaming, lets hope AMD can find ways to improve their offerings to compete at a price to performance level in the near future.

Don't forget to sign up for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #14 on October 29th, we are up to 46 participants so you can be guaranteed to not only have a good time but to have a wide variety of active games to choose from!

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"Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is more of a firearms simulation than it is a game. H3VR certainly does have some gaming and scoring modes of play and the developer is has been very busy increasing the H3VR content depth. If you have never handled a rifle of pistol, H3VR can be somewhat daunting, but certainly rewarding."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The VR Pool game has finally arrived

Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2016 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: VR, unreal engine 4, pool nation vr, htc vive, gaming

Pool Nation VR for thr HTC Vive is an Unreal Engine 4 game and takes advantage of one of that engine's NVIDIA only features, Multi-Res Shading.  This gives NVIDIA a performance advantage at high settings over AMD, though not so much that the GTX 1060 gets a recommendation from [H]ard|OCP.  Unfortunately, neither thev R9 Fury X nor RX 480 managed decent performance from this game, if you want to shoot VR pool you are looking at a GTX 1070 at the very least.  Check out the full review and hope that mods arrive to make the game more interesting.

Listeraigburth.jpg

"If shooting pool is a passion of yours, then Pool Nation VR should be on your list if you own an HTC Vive. Even if you are not a pool shark, this title will likely lure you in to spending many hours shooting stick. But to make it look stunning, you will need a heavy duty GPU up to the task. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP