DOOM Guy gets hot and bothered

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2017 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: doom, gaming, hack, mod

It's the May Two-Four so you have probably turned down your furnace* and your thermostat has very little to do, so why not play a game of DOOM on it?  Over at Hack a Day you can get a port of Chocolate DOOM which you can set up and run on a Honeywell Prestige thermostat.  The colour may be better than the original but for now you will have to play it without sound, still it is impressive how far hardware has come, even in simple appliances.

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*offer may not be valid in Wyoming

"In his video, [cz7asm] shows us the game running quite nicely on the 480 x 272 LCD with an NES controller plugged into the USB port originally intended for software updates. The thermostat runs on a STM32F429 which is an ARM9 processor that has the juice to pull it off."

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Source: Hack a Day

New AMD products with go forth July

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2017 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, ryzen 3, rumour

On a recent investors call AMD's head, Lisa Su, let it slip that the Radeon RX Vega family will be arriving on the market this July, shortly after we see the Frontier Edition launch.  The Inquirer also mentions that this is likely to indicate a similar launch time for the Ryzen 3 family, which seems a sound presumption.  During the call she set some dates for AMD's next generation of processors, they will be taping out their 7nm products later this year with Zen 2 scheduled for 2018 and Zen 3 in 2020.  It is also likely we will not be seeing mobile Zen parts at Computex; next year is far more likely to be their target.  Still, this has been an exciting year for enthusiasts with a wide variety of parts launched already and more on the way.

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"Su revealed that the company was planning a late-June release date for the Frontier Edition of the company's next-generation graphics card, with the more mainstream Radeon RX Vega coming out the following month."

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Source: The Inquirer

Win-ning friends in the workplace and hoping you hate group policy

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Win 10, enterprise

Microsoft is continuing with their policy of self inflicted hurdles for Enterprise adoption of Windows 10.  We have known for a while that Group Policy no longer works as expected on the new version of Windows and today The Inquirer posted more exact information this particular issue.  A security researcher locked down a machine using Group Policy settings and found that even with policies in place to prevent certain protocols and services, the machine continued to attempt connections.  The most damning proof of all was on a machine set to extreme security, with all but connections to Microsoft Update blocked, that still happily attempted to connect to advertising servers.  The marketshare of Win 10 devices in the workplace does not look to be on the rise any time soon.

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"On Monday, we revealed that a security researcher had used a packet sniffer to show that many settings designed to prevent access to the internet were being ignored with connections to a range of third party servers including advertising hubs."

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Source: The Inquirer

Sit back and read about the Vertagear Triigger 350 Special Edition Gaming Chair

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2017 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: vertagear, Triigger 350 Special Edition, gaming chair

We now know the real reason Kyle agreed to getting a red stripe in his hair; so he can match the chair he is sitting in.  He has been resting his laurels on the Vertagear Triigger 350 Special Edition for the past few months and has published a review of his experiences.  This 55lb beast is constructed of aluminium, mesh and calf leather with hubless caster type wheels which turned out to work and look good.  If you are in the market for a high end gaming chair you should check out the full review, especially the last page where he answers numerous questions asked by his forum members.

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"What happens when you rope yourself in to doing a gaming chair review? You take your time, do it right, and make sure your butt spends at least a few months in the chair before you write your review. My butt has been in the VertaGear Triigger 350 Gaming Chair for over 3 months, and here are my thoughts."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Add an ARM to your cortex

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2017 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: cyborgs, arm

Researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering are working on a way you can truly have SoC on the brain, partnering with ARM to develop chips which can be implanted in the brain.  The goal is not to grant you a neural interface nor add a couple of petabytes to your long term memory but to help treat people suffering from paralysis due to stroke or other damage to the brain.  There is the small problem of heat, brain tissue will be much more susceptible to damage from implanted devices than an organ in the torso; a pacemaker has space in which to dissipate excess heat.  We are still a long way off but you can read up on the current state of the research by following the links at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP GIANT ARM is teaming up with US researchers on a project develop human brain implants aimed at helping paralysed patients as well as stroke and Alzheimer's patients."

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Source: The Register

Good news Battletech fans, Paradox will publish Harebrained Schemes new game

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2017 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: battletech, paradox, gaming, Kickstarter

The Kickstarter for the new turn based Battletech gaming was wildly successful with 41,733 backers pledging $2,785,537 and now we have even more good news.  Paradox Interactive, they of the continual updates and addins to published games have agreed to publish the new Battletech game.  Not only does this ensure solid support for players after release but could mean we see a long lineup of expansions after release, Paradox just added another major expansion to EU4 four years after its release.  For backers there is even more news, the closed beta will kick off in June and there is a new video of multiplayer gameplay you can watch.

"The long life of these internally developed games is a core part of Paradox’s business model, but the company is also expanding as a publisher. That includes not only third-party originals like Battletech, but ports of existing titles such as Prison Architect on tablet."

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Dating Intel and AMD in 2017, we're going out for chips

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2017 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, rumour, release dates, ryzen, skylake-x, kaby lake x, Threadripper, X399, coffee lake

DigiTimes has posted an article covering the probable launch dates of AMD's new CPUs and GPUs as well as Intel's reaction to the release.  Not all of these dates are confirmed but it is worth noting as these rumours are often close to those eventually announced.  Naples will be the first, with the server chips launching at the end of June but that is just the start. July is the big month for AMD, with the lower end Ryzen 3 chips hitting the market as well as the newly announced 16 core Threadrippers and the X399 chipset.  That will also be the month we see Vega's Founders Frontier Edition graphics cards arrive.

Intel's Basin Falls platform; Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X along with the associated X299 chipset are still scheduled for Computex reveal and a late June or early August release.  Coffee Lake is getting pushed ahead however, it's launch has been moved up to late August instead of the beginning of next year. 

Even with Intel's counters, AMD's balance sheet is likely to be looking better and better as the year goes on which is great news for everyone ... except perhaps Intel and NVIDIA.

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"Demand for AMD's Ryzen 7- and Ryzen 5-series CPU products has continued rising, which may allow the chipmaker to narrow its losses to below US$50 million for the second quarter of 2017. With Intel also rumored to pay licensing fees to AMD for its GPUs, some market watchers believe AMD may turn profitable in the second quarter or in the third."

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Source: DigiTimes

CORSAIR Launches T1 RACE Gaming Chair

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming chair, corsair, T1 RACE

Corsair have jumped into the gaming chair market, a product we did not see much of which has recently taken off in a big way.  The T1 RACE is made of PU leather, also known as bicast leather, so the shiny finish should last quite a while though the feel will not quite the same as a true leather chair, nor will the price be as astronomical.  Depending on the type of polyurethane leather they used, this product might be vegan.  You can choose between yellow, white, blue or  red trim to highlight your chair, or if you prefer you can choose to forego the colours for a purely black chair.  It can recline 90° to 180° if you need a moment to lie back, the arm rests can be adjusted for height, width, position and angle and neck and lumbar PU leather pillows are included. 

Check out Corsair's page here or the PR just below.

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FREMONT, CA – May 16th, 2017 - CORSAIR®, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC components and high-performance gaming hardware today announced the launch of its first gaming chair, the T1 RACE. Inspired by racing, crafted for comfort and built to last, the T1 Race joins CORSAIR’s award-winning range of mice, keyboards, headsets and mousepads to complete the ultimate gaming experience. Built using a solid steel skeleton and dense foam cushions, the T1 RACE has the strength to ensure a lifetime of sturdiness, while it’s 4D-movement armrests raise, lower, shift and swivel to put gamers in the most comfortable position every time. Styled to turn heads and finished with immaculate attention to detail, the T1 RACE is the gaming chair your desk deserves.

Upholstered in luxurious PU leather on seating surfaces and available in five different colors, T1 RACE lets you choose your seat to match your style, in either Yellow, White, Blue, Red or Black trim, finished with automotive color-matched stitching and base accents. Nylon caster wheels, often an optional upgrade on office and gaming chairs, are included with T1 RACE as standard, ensuring stability and smooth movement on any surface.

T1 RACE’s sculpted race-seat design and included neck and lumbar PU leather pillows provide adjustable support for day-long gaming sessions, while its 4D-moment armrests effortlessly adjust in height, width, position and angle to put your arms precisely where they need to be. A steel construction Class 4 gas lift provides reliable height adjustment, while the seat itself tilts up to 10° and can recline anywhere between 90° to 180°, lying completely flat for when you need to take a break from the action. Finishing the T1 RACE’s attention to detail, the CORSAIR logo is tastefully embroidered into the rear of the chair, and lightly embossed into the headrest for maximum comfort.

Source: Corsair

Pot, meet kettle. Is it worse to hoard exploits or patches?

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: security, microsoft

Microsoft and the NSA have each been blaming the other for the ability of WannaCrypt to utilize a vulnerability in SMBv1 to spread.  Microsoft considers the NSA's decision not to share the vulnerabilities which their Eternalblue tool utilizes with Microsoft and various other security companies to be the cause of this particular outbreak.  Conversely, the fact is that while Microsoft developed patches to address this vulnerability for versions of Windows including WinXP, Server 2003, and Windows 8 RT back in March, they did not release the patches for legacy OSes until the outbreak was well underway. 

Perhaps the most compelling proof of blame is the number of systems which should not have been vulnerable but were hit due to the fact that the available patches were never installed. 

These three problems, the NSA wanting to hoard vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for espionage, Microsoft ending support of older products because they are a business and do not find it profitable to support products a decade or more after release and users not taking advantage of available updates have left us in the pickle we find ourselves in this week.  On the plus side this outbreak does have people patching, so we have that going for us.

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"Speaking of hoarding, though, it's emerged Microsoft was itself stockpiling software – critical security patches for months."

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Source: The Register

Khronos Group Published Finalized OpenCL 2.2 & SPIR-V 1.2

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: spir-v, opencl, Khronos

Aligning with the start of the International Workshop on OpenCL (IWOCL) 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, The Khronos Group has published the finalized specification for OpenCL 2.2 and SPIR-V 1.2. The headlining feature for this release is the OpenCL C++ kernel language, which SPIR-V 1.2 fully supports. Kernels are the portion of code that execute on the compute devices, such as GPUs, FPGAs, super computers, multi-core CPUs, and so forth.

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The OpenCL C++ kernel language is a subset of the C++14 standard, bringing many of its benefits to these less-general devices. Classes help data and code to be more tightly integrated. Templates help define logic in a general way for whatever data type implements whatever it requires, which is useful for things like custom containers. Lambda expressions make it easy to write one-off methods, rather than forcing the developer to name something that will only be used once, like comparing two data types for a special sort in one specific spot of code.

Exposing these features to the OpenCL device also enables The Khronos Group to further the SYCL standard, which aims for “single-source” OpenCL development. Having the code that executes on OpenCL-compatible devices contain roughly the same features as the host code is kind-of necessary to let them be written together, rather than exist as two pools.

The final OpenCL 2.2 and SPIR-V 1.2 specs are available now, and on GitHub for the first time.

IBM Model M? Pah, get an Underwood based keyboard if you want to impress!

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: input, AiZO, MK Retro

Who needs a mechanical keyboard that is inspired by something a mere three decades ago when you can purchase one that looks like a manual typewriter you would see in a museum exhibit?  The AZiO MK Retro sports those raised circular keys use AZiO's own OARMY Olive switches, which NikKTech postulates were source from Kailh.  If you are desperate for a unique looking keyboard without any sign of RGB-itis, then feast your eyes below and follow that link to the review.

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"With the MK Retro typewriter mechanical keyboard AZiO takes us for a trip down memory lane and although it leaves us asking for me we do feel they're on the right track."

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Source: NikKTech

The internet is whipping out some Core-i9 tales

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2017 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: rumour, Intel, Core i9

A two part rumour circulating the internet this morning, involving new processors and a new naming convention.  The leak that The Inquirer posted about this morning reveals six new Intel processors, two Kaby Lake-X processors with four cores running at a base clock of 4GHz or 4.3GHz depending on the model and TDPs of 112W.  More interesting are the new Kaby Lake-X processors which are referred to as Core i9 models, running from an i9-7800X @ 3.6GHz base to the i9-7920X which runs at an unspecified speed.  All will have four times the L2 cache of the current i7-7700K and Turbo 2.0 Boost Max to increase the frequency of several cores at once as well as Turbo Boost 3.0 for single-threaded workloads. 

It will be interesting to see if the Core i7 family continues as an upper middle class of processors with the i9 family replacing it's current standing or if the new processors will be priced like high end Xeons.

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"The slide, which an Anandtech forum member claims is an internal Intel document, provides details of four new Skylake-X processors and two Kaby Lake-X CPUs. The Skylake-X processors are described as Core i9, and if the leak is genuinely - and that's a fairly big if - the new Core i9s will replace Core i7s as Intel's top-of the-pile PC chipset range."

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Source: The Inquirer

Patch that HP laptop ASAP

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: hp, keylogger, security

The poorly thought out feature HP added to their audio driver in some past models of laptops can now be removed. The previous driver listened for a certain key to be depressed actually recorded all keystrokes made by the user and stored the information in plain text under the Public profile.  The file was deleted each time the computer restarted but could still exist in backups, you should check for MicTray.log in those backups.  Slashdot reported this morning that HP has released a fixed driver which you should grab from Windows Update or HP.com immediately.

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"HP says it has a fix for a flaw that caused a number of its PC models to keep a log of each keystroke a customer was entering. The issue, caused by problematic code in an audio driver, affected PC models from 2015 and 2016."

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Source: Slashdot

Today's bonus AMD rumour: Starship, Naples, Zeppelin and a flock of Owls

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2017 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: amd, Starship, Naples, Zeppelin, Great Horned Owl, Banded Kestrel, Grey Hawk, River Hawk, Snowy Owl, rumour

We have another leak today from wccftech, via VideoCardz, of AMD's upcoming enterprise level processors.  Starship will use the successor to the current Zen architecture; Zen 2 is in some ways measurable as being fabricated with a 7nm FinFet process.  The chips are a testament to AMD's dedication to multi-core designs, Starship will feature up to 48 cores with 96 threads.  That does create a bit of heat, but not more than the chip it is replacing, the TDPs range from 35W up to 180W.  These chips will be sold under the Opteron name and will likely not have a model with the number 1701.

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Starship will replace Naples, which we already know quite a lot about, they will use the upcoming Zeppelin architecture.  The thermals match Starship but the core count is lower and tops out at 32 cores, 64 threads.  That count tells us there will be four interconnected Zeppelin dies, each having 8 cores in two CCX units. 

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Next up is the Snowy Owl family of BGA chips which also uses Zeppelin cores.  They will have models with core counts of 8, 12 and 16.  Snowy Owl will support DDR4 in quad channel, 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and up to 16 SATA or NVMe storage devices and should take flight before the end of the year,.

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Lastly we have their new embedded R-Series APUs, Great Horned Owl, Banded Kestrel, Grey Hawk and River Hawk.  These low power chips will be based off of the current Zen architecture with support for single and dual DIMM DDR4 channels.  The CPU portion will have 2 or 4 cores and TDPs between 15-65W, Owl models will be paired with an graphics core possessing 11 CUs, Kestral with 3 CUs.  According to the slides posted at wccftech the APUs will support 4K60 and up to four 4K monitors which is impressive for such a small chip.  There will also rumoured to be models without an APU, for usage in device which do not need graphical capabilities. 

The slides also hint at a mysterious a new MCM package product which will arrive this year.  It is reputed to have 4 GB VRAM, 10 CUs and five dual-mode Display Port support arriving in 2017.  There are a lot more slides you can see by clicking here.

Source: wccftech

Rumour time; Ryzen Whitehaven specs

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2017 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: whitehaven, s3, ryzen, rumour, amd

wccftech is reporting on two engineering samples of new AMD processors which feature 16 cores and 32 threads with a boost clock speed of 3.6GHz and a base clock of 3.0GHz.  They have pictures of the architecture you can look over contained in this post.  This chip will also use a new socket, called S3, marking a nice change in a company that stuck with the AM3(+) chipset for the better part of a decade.  The chips will support quad channel DDR4 as well as expanded PCIe lanes to offer better storage options as well as PCIe slots.  AMD is aiming at offering some competition to Intel's upcoming release of Skylake-X, we should know more at Computex at the end of this month as AMD is expected to officially announce the product at that show.

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"AMD’s upcoming 16 core enthusiast Ryzen “Whitehaven” CPUs have been spotted. The new processors will come in variations of up to 16 cores and 32 threads and will support quad-channel DDR4 memory."

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Source: wccftech

Sangean WFT-3 Digital Receiver, get high quality audio from your podcasts, radio and more

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2017 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: WFT-3 Digital Receiver, Sangean, audio

The Sangean WFT-3 Digital Receiver looks like most stereo equipment until you look at the inputs.  There you will find an ethernet port, WiFi antenna and USB plug in addition to a radio antenna and various audio out plugs.  It connects to the internet to provide you access to your podcasts and Spotify, as well as being able to play directly off of a USB drive or receive local FM radio signals if you are a fan of any particular stations.  Drop by NikKTech for a look.

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"Thanks to its ability to receive Internet / DAB / DAB+ and FM-RDS radio and also function as a Network and USB audio media player the WFT-3 digital receiver by Sangean packs quite a punch especially when compared to similar products."

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Source: NikKTech

Even the coffee cups might make you Prey

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2017 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: gaming, prey

Ars Technica is exploring Talos I, the setting of the game Prey and are having a great time.  Similar to the other reviews below this is a quick look at the beginning of the game for Bethesda did not provide any reviewers with an advanced copy.  After the introduction you find yourself equipped with nothing but a wrench and a "Gloo gun", in a station filled with alien Typhon Mimics which can turn into any inanimate object and lay in wait for you.  If you are undecided if this game is worth picking up then read through the article and decide for yourself.

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"Owing to Bethesda's recently enacted policy of withholding review copies until just before release, we've barely had five hours of in-game time with Prey prior to the game's launch today. Consider these impressions a review-in-progress as we work toward the game's conclusion. This piece includes spoilers for some very early portions of the game."

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Source: Ars Technica

Meet Google's Fuchsia OS

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2017 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: fuschia, google, Android, iot

Fuchsia is still a work in progress which has been available on Github for a while now but we haven't really seen a  demonstration of it in action.  A Texan enthusiast has been working on creating one and you can take a peek at it in this video over at The Register.  The tiny OS is design to run on almost anything, from smart light bulbs to phone and even full sized computers.  It is based on BSD with additional resources developed at MIT and will be backwards compatible with current Android libraries.

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"When Fuchsia broke cover last August, we noted the project's ambition. The presence of a compositor indicated it was capable of running on more than lightbulbs and routers, although the tiny new Magenta kernel also allows it go there too."

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Source: The Register

Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so buggy ... then Microsoft called it off

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: security essentials, security, microsoft, fud, endpoint, defender

You have probably already read about the bug which effects all Microsoft's security programs, from basic home apps like Defender through to professional level Forefront Security for SharePoint discovered by Google Project Zero researchers.  It was certainly a bad one, utilizing the act of scanning a file for malware as the infection vector, striking similar to the way some viruses hijack our own immune systems. 

The good news is that Microsoft started pushing out a fix for the bug on Monday; as the bug was hinted at publicly on Friday someone must have put in a long weekend.  This quick turnaround is very nice to see and demonstrates the usefulness of publicly announcing the existence of a threat, without revealing the details to the public immediately.  Bug bounty programs are a good thing but if they involve NDAs it can lead to delays in resolutions as there is little pressure on the software developers to push out an immediate fix.  As The Register states, responsibly disclosing the existence of a bug, especially a major one such as this, you get a quick turn around like we saw from Microsoft. 

Update if you got 'em!

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"On the second point, well, we hate to break it to you but all software has bugs – especially Microsoft's code. There are any number of horrible remote code execution flaws in Windows and Office right now, sitting there waiting for white and black hats to find and exploit. Being told, yes, there is definitely a bad bug lurking in among the ones and zeroes doesn't make you less secure."

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Source: The Register

A keyboard for the accident prone, Zalman's Z-Machine K650WP

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2017 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: input, waterproof, zalman, aluminium, Z-Machine K650WP, keyboard

The K650WP is a membrane keyboard with a PS/2 plug and USB adapter so for those who need to click while they type you may want to skip this review.  For everyone else, the membrane design allowed Zalman to waterproof the keyboard by adding holes to allow spilled liquids to quickly drain away from the keys, as well as coating the aluminium stiffener inside with hydrophobic film and some strategically placed insulation.  TechPowerUp dumped the contents of a 250 mL water bottle into the keyboard to test this feature out and it worked a charm, they only wiped off the keys as the remainder of the liquid drained through the bottom and the keyboard continued to work.  At $27, even if you do manage to damage the keyboard you are not out a lot of money.  Check it out here.

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"The Z-Machine K650WP from Zalman is a membrane keyboard that comes in at a price point where there is really no competition from branded mechanical keyboards. At the same time, it offers a waterproof design, dedicated volume-control buttons, and an internal aluminum plate for structural rigidity, making it great value for the money."

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Source: TechPowerUp