Microsoft's hot new idea for the server room; IR lasers

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2017 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: wireless, servers, firefly

Forget LiFi, Firefly uses infrared lasers to transmit data and torture acronyms.  Researchers out of Penn State, backed by Microsoft, are working on a way to get rid of the wiring in your server room and replace it with IR lasers and mirrors; hold the smoke.  By using multiplexed beams, they have created a proof of concept test which allows bi-directional data streams at 10 gigabits per second though there is some work to be done before it is ready for a full test.

The mirrors would be MEMs controlled, ensuring that the signal should theoretically be able to reach any receiver, even ones obscured by other equipment.  Anyone sick of cable management or looking for new ways to keep people out of the server room can take a peek at the link to the research that The Register posted.  On the other hand, the simple act of walking into your server room, setting down a box or even a leaf on the wind would be likely to cause downtime.  Could protective goggles might be the newest sysadmin fashion faux pas? 

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"Shown off at Photonics West 2017 in San Francisco, Firefly (acronymically tortured out of Free-space optical Inter-Rack nEtwork with high FLexibilitY, we kid you not) proposes FSO to provide multiple 10 Gbps inter-rack links."

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Source: The Register
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Qualcomm aptX

Introduction

Bluetooth has come a long way since the technology was introduced in 1998. The addition of the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) in 2003 brought support for high-quality audio streaming, but Bluetooth still didn’t offer anywhere near the quality of a wired connection. This unfortunate fact is often overlooked in favor of the technology's convenience factor, but what if we could have the best of both worlds? This is where Qualcomm's aptX comes in, and it is a departure from the methods in place since the introduction of Bluetooth audio.

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What is aptX audio? It's actually a codec that compresses audio in a very different manner than that of the standard Bluetooth codec, and the result is as close to uncompressed audio as the bandwidth-constrained Bluetooth technology can possibly allow. Qualcomm describes aptX audio as "a bit-rate efficiency technology that ensures you receive the highest possible sound quality from your Bluetooth audio device," and there is actual science to back up this claim. After doing quite a bit of reading on the subject as I prepared for this review, I found that the technology behind aptX audio, and its history, is very interesting.

A Brief History of aptX Audio

The aptX codec has actually been around since long before Bluetooth, with its invention in the 1980s and first commercial applications beginning in the 1990s. The version now found in compatible Bluetooth devices is 4th-generation aptX, and in the very beginning it was actually a hardware product (the APTX100ED chip). The technology has had a continued presence in pro audio for three decades now, with a wider reach than I had ever imagined when I started researching the topic. For example, aptX is used for ISDN line connections for remote voice work (voice over, ADR, foreign language dubs, etc.) in movie production, and even for mix approvals on film soundtracks. In fact, aptX was also the compression technology behind DTS theater sound, which had its introduction in 1993 with Jurassic Park. It is in use in over 30,000 radio stations around the world, where it has long been used for digital music playback.

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So, while it is clear that aptX is a respected technology with a long history in the audio industry, how exactly does this translate into improvements for someone who just wants to listen to music over a bandwidth-constrained Bluetooth connection? The nature of the codec and its differences/advantages vs. A2DP is a complex topic, but I will attempt to explain in plain language how it actually can make Bluetooth audio sound better. Having science behind the claim of better sound goes a long way in legitimizing perceptual improvements in audio quality, particularly as the high-end audio industry is full of dubious - and often ridiculous - claims. There is no snake-oil to be sold here, as we are simply talking about a different way to compress and uncompress an audio signal - which is the purpose of a codec (code, decode) to begin with.

Continue reading our review of Qualcomm aptX audio technology!

CES 2017: Audio-Technica Expands Wireless Headphone Lineup with aptX Bluetooth

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2017 - 03:02 AM |
Tagged: wireless, headphones, CES 2017, CES, bluetooth, aptX

On the high-end audio side of things Audio-Technica has added to its wireless headphone lineup with both on-ear and in-ear models featuring aptX technology for high quality Bluetooth audio.

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ATH-DSR9BT and ATH-DSR7BT headphones

The high-end ATH-DSR9BT and ATH-DSR7BT are Audio-Technica's first wireless headphones with their new Pure Digital Drive system:

This new technology keeps the audio signal completely digital from the audio source to the headphones’ drivers, without the need for D/A conversion stages that typically degrade the sound quality. Traditionally, the digital signal goes through a series of steps that process and transform the wireless signal. This presents several opportunities for distortion in audio quality. Our Pure Digital Drive technology eliminates the opportunities for disruption and distortion that occur in the conversion stages, providing users with a high-quality listening experience.

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SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT headphones

Other new models include a "high-performance/high-value" offering in the SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT on-ear headphones, a compact folding design with a new dynamic driver "to deliver richly detailed sound" that the company says "sets a new value standard for high-performance on-ear wireless headphones" at its $119 MSRP.

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ATH-CKS990BT and ATH-CKS550BT in-ear monitors

In-ear options ATH-CKS990BT ($199) and ATH-CKS550BT ($119) in the Solid Bass series feature "Dual Magnetic Field drivers with Multiple-Transition diaphragms for improved sound", and will provide better wireless functionality and better controls than previous models.

All of these new wireless headphones and in-ear monitors will be available this spring.

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!

CES 2017: Logitech Announces G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 05:01 AM |
Tagged: wireless, Pro-G, logitech, headset, headphones, gaming, DTS Headphone:X, CES 2017, CES, 7.1 channel, 40mm

Logitech's newest gaming headset is the G533, a wireless model that boasts superior sound quality, reliable wireless performance, and long battery life.

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"The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset features professional grade wireless technology, patent pending Pro-G audio drivers and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound, for advanced audio performance and wireless convenience. The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset also features a long battery life and high performance design, for comfort over long gameplay sessions."

The Pro-G drivers were previously found in the flagship Artemis Spectrum gaming headsets, which I was highly impressed by when I reviewed them a year ago. The new G533 model incorporates much of the same functionality as the wireless G933 headset, with advanced driver technology and DTS Headphone:X 7.1-channel surround effects.

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As to the wireless performance, Logitech states that their system is low-latency, completely lossless, and resistant to interference:

"Featuring advanced lossless digital audio transmission, the Logitech G533 delivers wireless convenience and incredible high fidelity sound at a range of up to 15 meters’. The headset maintains a strong connection, even in noisy Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) settings and when there are dozens of wireless signals in proximity."

Specifications for the G533 Wireless Gaming Headset from Logitech:


  • Headphones
    • Driver: Pro-G 40 mm
    • Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
    • Impedance: 32 Ohms
    • Sensitivity: 107dB SPL/mW
    • Charging Cable Length: 2m
    • Battery Life: 15 hours
    • Wireless Range: 15m
    • Size: 197 mm x 189 mm x 85 mm
    • Weight: 350 grams (12.5 oz)
  • Microphone
    • Pickup Pattern: Cardioid (Unidirectional)
    • Type: Pressure Gradient Electret
    • Condenser
      • Size: 4 mm
      • Frequency response: 100Hz-20KHz  
  • Warranty: 2-year limited hardware warranty

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The G533 Wireless Gaming Headset will retail for $149.99, with availability slated for this month.

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: Logitech

Podcast #425 - Samsung 960 EVO, NZXT S340, NVIDIA revenue, wireless Vive, Serious Sam VR, Steam VR on Linux and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2016 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: wireless, VR, video, valve, TPCAST, tempered glass, steam, serious sam, Samsung, S340, podcast, nzxt, linux, htc, 960 EVO, 375.86

PC Perspective Podcast #425 - 11/17/16

Join us this week as we discuss new Samsung 960 EVO, NZXT S340, NVIDIA revenue, wireless Vive, Serious Sam VR, Steam VR on Linux 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:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:13:46

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan:
  4. Closing/outro

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

Just Delivered: Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum Wireless Ambidextrous Mouse

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2016 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, mouse, logitech g, logitech, g900, chaos spectrum

While attending GDC last week and catching up on the world of VR that will be in our laps this spring and summer, I spent some time with Logitech to learn about the company's latest in gaming hardware. We already told you about the G610 keyboards using Cherry keyswitches but today Logitech is revealing a brand new wireless gaming mouse. 

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First, I know that a lot of gamers, both those in the professional spaces and those that strive to that level of competition, are going to have concerns about this being a wireless mouse. Logitech believes and has convincing evidence that they have built the best and fastest wireless implementation of any option on the market today. I'll go over some of their testing below, but first let's dive into the mouse itself.

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Much to the delight of left handed users and anyone looking for a ambidextrous mouse, the G900 Chaos Spectrum is built for you! The design is balanced on both sides and even has a unique button configuration to permit thumb use for both lefties and righties. I have been mousing with it for the last three days, and as a right handed user, am completely comfortable with the design. As the name implies, the G logo on the mouse is completely controllable with RGB LEDs through the Logitech Gaming Software suite.

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On the bottom of the G900 you'll find the on/off switch and sync button. Logitech tells us that you will be able to get at least 24 hours of continuous use out of a single charge of the mouse, 32 hours if you turn off lighting, and charge time is going to be around 2 hours. That's actually very good battery life for a high performance sensor like the PMW3366!

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On the front is a micro USB port used for charging, which I'll touch on in a minute. The buttons on the G900 are unique as well, using a new mechanical pivot button design. Logitech claims they were built for "crisp, clean clicks". With the pivot point moved back towards the center of the mouse, engineers were able to reduce the travel distances between the buttons and switches and keep the amount of force required for the click to a minimum. 

Continue reading our first look at the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum!!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Dell

Laptops and Monitors

Dell kicked off their CES presence with a presentation that featured actor Josh Brener of “Silicon Valley” fame.  His monologues were entertaining, but unfortunately he was performing in front of a pretty tough crowd.  It was 10:30 in the morning and people were still scarfing down coffee and breakfast goods that were provided by Dell.  Not exactly a group receptive of humorous monologues at that time in the morning.  Oddly enough I was seated next to Josh's wife, Meghan Falcone, who helped provide the laugh track for his presentation.  She was kind enough to place my dirty, germ-ridden coffee cup right next to the AV equipment table when I was finished with it.  Probably a poor move on her part.

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The presentation was actually about some pretty interesting products coming to Dell this year.  The presentation was held in a restaurant in The Venetian and space was rather limited.  Dell did what they could in the space provided, and entertained some 60+ reporters and editors with the latest and greatest technology coming from Dell.

Dell had a runaway success last year with their latest XPS laptops with the InfinityEdge Displays.  The 13” model was a huge success with even Ryan buying one.  These products featured quick processors and graphics, outstanding screen quality, and excellent battery life considering weight and performance.  Dell decided to apply this design to their business class Latitude laptops.  The big mover is expected to be the new Dell Latitude 13” 7000 series Ultrabook.  This will come with a variety of configurations, but it will all be based on the same chasis that features the 13” InfinityEdge Display as well as a carbon fiber top lid.  This will host all of the business class security features that those customers expect.  It also features USB Type-C connectors as well as Thunderbolt 3.

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The Latitude 12 7000 series is a business oriented 2-in-1 device with a 12.5” screen.  This easily converts from a laptop to a tablet and is along the same design lines as the latest Surface 4.  It features a 4K touch display that is covered by a large piece of Gorilla Glass.  The magnesium unibody build provides a great amount of rigidity while keeping weight low.  The attachable base/keyboard is a backlit unit that is extremely thin.

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Finally we have the smaller Latitude 11 5000 series 2-in1 that features a 10.8 inch touch display, hardened glass, and the magnesium frame.  It is only 1.56 pounds and provides all the business and security features demanded by that market.

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Click here to continue reading about Dell's CES 2016 Lineup!

There's data in dem der lightbulbs; moves really fast too!

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2015 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: wireless, li-fi, 1GBps

Li-Fi is a new experimental wireless data transmission technology which sends data using the same lights that illuminate the space you are in, at such frequencies and intensities that your brain does not process any change in lighting which your eyes might capture.  It transmits at an incredible speed, under perfect conditions in the the lab they saw 224GBps and recently have successfully transmitted at 1GBps in the field.  Yes, that is 1GB per second of data transfer, light travels rather quickly after all.  There are limits on where this technology can be used, in large spaces signals from different lights could interfere with each other and if you are outside then you will not be able to benefit but for offices and the home this could be rather impressive to behold.  Read more about the researchers and how these lightbulbs could be tied into existing lighting at The Inquirer.

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"BOFFINS HAVE field tested Li-Fi for the first time, achieving wireless speeds 100 times faster than WiFi."

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Source: The Inquirer

Google is looking for a brand new band

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: wireless, google, FCC

Google seems to be investigating a new way to extend their reach as an ISP, over and above Google Fibre and WiFi in Starbucks.  They have applied to the FCC to test data communication on 1mm frequency waves between 5.8GHz and 24.2GHz frequency band as wll as 2mm waves from 71-76GHz and 81-86GHz.  The wireless spectrum available continues to shrink as carriers bid on the remaining unclaimed frequencies which can penetrate the electronic noise that permeates highly populated areas and so companies are exploring frequencies which were not used in the past.  From what The Inquirer was told, these particular frequencies could be capable of sending data at speeds of several gigabits per second bandwidth over short distances, that could really help reduce the cost of connecting new users to their fibre network as the last mile could be wireless, not wired.

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"GOOGLE HAS FILED A REQUEST with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test high-speed wireless spectrum at several locations in California."

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Source: The Inquirer
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Today I'm going to talk to you about something you might not have thought you needed, but once you realize what this new device can do, you might just want one. Imagine a Western Digital My Cloud, but only smaller, battery powered, and wireless. You could fill it with a bunch of movies, music, and other media for something like an upcoming family road trip. If said device could create its own wireless hotspot, the kids could connect to it via their tablets or other portable devices and watch their movie of choice during the drive. Once you are at your destination and snapping a bunch of photos, it would also be handy if this imaginary device could also mount SD cards for sharing recently taken photos with others on your trip. A bonus might be the ability to store a back-up of those SD cards as they become full, or maybe even empty them for folks without a lot of SD capacity available. As a final bonus, make all of this work in such a way that you could pull off an entire trip with *only* mobile devices and tablets - *without* a PC or a Mac. Think all of that can happen? It can now!:

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Behold the WD My Passport Wireless!

Read on for our full review!