Remember the old days when you could buy a 1TB drive for under $100?

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 29, 2012 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: hdd, Futuremark, thailand

While it is easy to understand why the destruction of a good portion of the HDD industries manufacturing capabilities caused by the flooding in Thailand would effect both the availability and pricing of HDDs it is not so easy to explain what those manufacturers are doing now.  It is not just the reduction in warranty to 1 year which we previously informed you about, it is the bizarre pricing which adds to the confusion.  This is an industry which has collapsed into two major players, with two others appearing to compete but in reality are working with or outright owned by the two major players.  They are under siege from the SSD industry which offers longer warranty, better performance and prices which are falling quickly; making the high prices and lousy warranty offered by HDD manufactures quite unattractive.  The Tech Report assembled an array of graphs which display the state of the hard drive companies as well as some suggestions on the best current deals in HDDs if you are inclined to pick one up.

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"Mechanical hard drive prices rose sharply after last year's Thailand flooding. Prices have fallen since, but their decline has slowed in recent months. We take a closer look at the numbers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Sony Launching New $199 Google TV Box

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 10:17 AM |
Tagged: sony, smart tv, htpc, google tv, google, Android

Yes, it does appear that Google TV is still a “thing” – though I am only reminded because Sony has not stoppsed releasing new boxes running Android. The NSZ-GS7 is a small box designed to sit between your TV and cable box to add additional smart TV-like functionality. It is running a dual core Marvell ARM processor, and has 8GB of storage space, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radios. Rear IO on the device includes two HDMI ports (for HDMI passthrough of your cable box or other media device), optical audio output, an IR blaster port, Ethernet, two USB ports, and a power input port.

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The interesting thing about these Google TV products has always been the remotes. There have been some strange designs in the past, but the Sony NSZ-GS7’s remote actually looks nice and comfortable. The front of the remote resembles any standard TV remote with a track pad added to it while the back of the remote features a full QWERTY keyboard. It also has an accelerometer and is allegedly capable of detecting which side of the remote you are using – and will turn off the buttons on the underside to avoid accidental key-presses.

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I really like this remote. Image credit goes to Tom's Hardware.

Beyond the hardware itself, the Google TV box is running Android 3.2 Honeycomb. It is able to acts as an enhanced TV guide as well as providing web access and Google App functionality (for the few apps that have been modified to work specifically with Google TVs anyway). One of the cool apps available is one that can control a Parrot AR.Drone on the big screen with the TV remote, which sounds like fun (my dog would go nuts!). It is also capable of doing picture-in-picture where users can browse the web while also watching the TV in a smaller window.

Tom’s Hardware managed to gets a hands-on demo with the new device courtesy of Sony Canada. They managed to snag several good photos of the hardware and interface. They note that the NSZ-GS7 Google TV box will be coming out next month for those in the US and UK – a Canadian launch is following in August – for $199. You can find more photos at the link above.

Especially with the release of the Nexus Q, I have to wonder if Google is even aware that Google TV is still around, because it really feels like they launched it and then walked away from it. Now that they are focusing on “the cloud” for media playback, the Google TV has even less relevance to the company. On the other hand, I could see an perspective where both devices are able to coexist and flesh out total living room media functionality with the Nexus Q handling the social and cloud media playback and Google TV acting as a better cable box for “offline” media. I am curious though, what you think of Google TV. Do you like it, or would you rather have a beefier HTPC running Windows or Linux on x86/64 hardware? Where do you think the Google TV fits into the living room?

Other Google I/O News:

 

Cooler Master Announces Silent Pro M2 Power Supplies

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: silent pro m2, PSU, power supply, cooler master

Cooler Master, a company known for its computer cases and heat sinks has announced an update to its Silent Pro M-series power supplies with the Silent Pro M2 line. Coming in 620 watt, 720 watt, and 1500 watt models, the company has reportedly implemented improvements in every aspects of the PSUs. The 620W and 720W power supplies utilize a single 12V rail capable of delivering 50A and 58A respectively. The 1500W PSU further implements dual 12V rails pushing 70A on one rail and an additional 55A on the other.

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All three power supplies are modular, minus the ATX power cable which is permanent. The 620W and 720W models are 80 PLUS Bronze certified while the 1500W model is rated at 80 PLUS Silver. The Silent Pro M2 line is RoHS and ERP 2010 compliant, as well. Further, they have an improved 3.3V DC-to-DC converter and larger capacitors that enable hold-up times greater than 17ms. A 135mm fan with hydraulic bearing aims to keep the power supplies cool.

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While Cooler Master has not announced pricing, they are set to be available for purchase sometime in June 2012. You can find more information on the Silent Pro M2 PSUs on the company's product pages.

Google Selling Nexus 7 At Cost To Promote Its Play Ecosystem

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, jelly bean, google io, google, Android

We first saw an ASUS 7” tablet at CES 2012. That tablet would quickly drop off the radar only to emerge again at this year’s Google I/O developer conference as the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is a 7” tablet that closely resembles the original ASUS model but tweaks the case and knocks the price down to $199.

Specifications include a quad core Tegra 3 processor with 12-core GPU component, 8GB or 16GB of storage space, and 1GB of RAM. Other features include WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth. Further, Google announced during its Day 1 keynote that the Nexus 7 weighs in at 340 grams and offers up to 9 hours of video playback time. All that hardware drives Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and an IPS display with resolution of 1280x800 resolution.

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All Things D talked with both ASUS CEO Jonney Shih and Google’s Andy Rubin about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and how it came to be. Reportedly, ASUS had just four months to come up with a 7” tablet for Google that they could sell at cost for $200. Both of those added up to a tight time schedule with 24-hour development cycle and a tablet that was mostly similar to its CES tablet but at the lower Google price point. Dubbed Project A Team internally, ASUS added a number of new people to the tablet project and moved engineers around the work – including some postings in Silicon Valley so that they could work closely with Google. It also enabled ASUS to work around the clock on the hardware (albeit by different workers). Google has stated that ASUS was one of the few companies that could have pulled off the tablet in the short time frame given. AllThingsD quoted Google’s Andy Rubin as saying “We went from zero to working product in four months.”

On the ASUS side of things, Jonney Shih told the site that “our engineers told me it is like torture” regarding working with Google to develop the tablet. Also, he stated that Google can be a demanding company to work with. “They ask a lot.”

 

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Granted, ASUS had a good starting point with its 370T tablet that it showed off at CES, but the difficult part was taking that same tablet and making it cost less than $200. Google’s goal with that price point was to attempt to capture the mainstream market – a market that is currently buying into the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet tablets (and accompanying ecosystems). Despite being based on Android, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have heavily tweaked the interface and heavily tied the hardware into their content ecosystems. Google wants to do the same with its Play Store by releasing a tablet at cost on its Google Play Store that will run the latest – and bloatware-free – version of Android. The company is trying to position the Nexus 7 as the perfect tablet to consumer Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies on. The hardware inside and out along with the latest Android OS do make it a very compelling option for people wanting a tablet with the form factor of the Kindle Fire but the full (and latest) stock version of Android. Both companies seemed to run into the Nexus 7, but in the end the pressure ASUS was under may have resulted in a "diamond in the (Android tablet) rough."

What do you think of the Nexus 7? Is it the Kindle Fire for the more tech savvy (and/or those not already heavilly invested in a competing media catalog like Itunes, Amazon Kindle, et al)?

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Source: AllThingsD

Microsoft Reveals Windows 8 Upgrade Options

Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, upgrade, operating system, microsoft

ZDNet has managed to get its hands on some details regarding Microsoft’s Windows 8 upgrade paths. The company will support upgrade installations from XP SP3 to Windows 7 in various forms, and with some caveats. Users will not be able to do cross-language upgrade installs or upgrades from x86 (32-bit) to x64 (64-bit) Windows 8 (or vice versa).

Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system (check out our guide) is set to be available to consumers this fall, and the company has started prepping its partners on how the upgrade process will work for users running previous versions of Windows. The short answer is that users running at least XP with Service Pack 3 will be able to perform an upgrade install to a version of Windows 8 with the same language and architecture as the current version. The longer answer is that – while you may be able to upgrade – you may not be able to keep all of your applications, system settings, and/or data when moving to Windows 8 depending on your particular configuration.

Let’s run down some example upgrade situations.

For users running Windows XP SP3 or higher, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 and keep all of you personal files. You will lose all system settings and installed applications, however.

If you are currently running Windows Vista pre-Service Pack 1 (SP1), you will be able to perform an upgrade installation to Windows 8. You will be able to keep your personal files, but will lose any installed applications and system settings.

If you have Windows Vista SP1 (or newer), you will be able to keep your personal files and system settings. On the other hand, you will lose any installed applications as a result of the upgrade to Windows 8.

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Further, as general rules of thumb, you can upgrade to Windows 8 (non-Pro version) from Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, and Windows 7 Home Premium installs. You will be able to keep all of your settings, files, and applications. Also, you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Pro, and Ultimate and keep the same system configuration, installed applications, and personal files. If you are a volume licensee currently running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterpirse, you will be able to perform and upgrade installation to Windows 8 Enterprise without losing any data, settings, or applications.

Just as with previous releases of Windows, if you want to move to the new version of Windows that has either a different language or different architecture (32-bit/64-bit), you will be required to perform a clean installation (not a bad idea in any event, actually). One detail that has not been released (or leaked) yet is pricing and whether or not we will see steep discounts for student versions, those that tested any of the Windows 8 preview builds, or family packs. If you eschew the DIY route and buy a new OEM computer between now and January 31, 2013, you will qualify for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade copy for $14.99, however.  It will be interesting to see just how Microsoft prices its upcoming operating system, especially before any applicable discounts. Microsoft has streamlined the number of SKUs but also made Pro the version to get for even some home users; and because it’s the equivalent of Windows 7 Ultimate where they price it will be interesting (or rather disheartening should I let the cynical side of me win out).

Have you tried Windows 8 yet, and if so, will you be upgrading to it once it’s officially released? Any guesses on the final prices?

Source: ZDNet

Podcast #208 - AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHZ Edition, Intel Core i5-3470, our Blindfolded APU build and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, thunderbolt, ssd, podcast, nvidia, i5-3470, hd7970, blindfolded, APU, 7970 ghz edition

PC Perspective Podcast #208 - 06/28/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHZ Edition, Intel Core i5-3470, our Blindfolded APU build 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:05:24

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:42 AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
  6. 0:09:10 Live Review Recap: AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
  7. 0:10:30 Silverstone Crown Series CW02 case review
  8. 0:13:50 Intel Core i5-3470 IVB Review
  9. 0:21:11 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  10. 0:22:05 Live Video Recap: AMD Llano APU Blindfolded Build
  11. 0:25:50 ASUS ROG Matrix HD 7970 coming soon
  12. 0:30:00 Sandia Cooler Prototype
  13. 0:39:50 Dell Ubuntu Notebooks
  14. 0:43:40 Can a 12-core ARM cluster hit critical mass?
  15. 0:48:20 Google announces Nexus 7 tablet powered by Tegra 3
  16. 0:55:55 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Thunderbolt on Windows Article coming tomorrow!!
    2. Jeremy: Core i7 3770K is a compute per watt monster
    3. Josh: Good PS for general use and excellent price
    4. Allyn: OCZ Vertex 4 FW 1.4.1.3
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. Closing

More Ivy Bridge on Linux experiments

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, opengl, opencl, linux, Ivy Bridge

Intel really seems to have taken the general criticism about the lack of Linux support during the initial release of Sandy Bridge to heart and made sure not to repeat the mistake with Ivy Bridge.  Phoronix have spent the last two months exhaustively testing the performance of the i7-3770K and today offer some general observations about the chip and Intel's support of open source.  Much of it is good news, like the performance of the OpenGL driver as well as its support for OpenGL 4.0 but some is not so good such as the fact that AMD's OpenCL for the CPU works better than Intel's implementation with neither running on the GPU yet.  Check out the other findings in the article.

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"It has been 66 days since Intel formally introduced their Ivy Bridge processors as the 2012 successor to Sandy Bridge. My views on Intel Ivy Bridge (specifically the Core i7 3770K model) back on launch-day were very positive in terms of the Linux compatibility, CPU performance, and the HD 4000 graphics capabilities. Since then I've conducted dozens of additional tests looking at the Core i7 Ivy Bridge on Linux in different areas from comparative benchmarks to Microsoft Windows, trying to run BSD operating systems on the latest hardware, looking at the virtualization performance, compiler tuning, etc. Here is a recap of this additional Ivy Bridge testing that has happened over the past two months of near constant benchmarking."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Phoronix
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

An overview of Thunderbolt Technology

The promise of Thunderbolt connectivity has been around for a couple of years now. Today, Thunderbolt is finally finding its way to the PC platform in the form of motherboards from ASUS and MSI. First unveiled as "Light Peak" at the Intel Developer Forum in 2009, the technology started out as a way to connect multiple devices to a system over a fiber optic cable (hence the 'light' in the name), though the final products have changed the implementation slightly.

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The first prototype implementations actually used a USB-style connection and interface. It further required fiber optic cables. When it was renamed to Thunderbolt and then released in conjunction with a new lineup of Apple MacBook laptops, not only did the physical interface move to a mini-DisplayPort connection but the cable was made to use copper rather than fiber. Without diving too far into the reasons and benefits of either direction, the fact is that the copper cables allow for modest power transfer and are much cheaper than fiber optic variants would be.

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Thunderbolt's base technology remains the same, however. It is a transfer standard that allows for 10 Gbps of bandwidth for each channel (bi-directional) and concurrently supports both data and display connections. The actual interface for the data path is based on PCI Express and connected devices actually appear to Windows as if they are internally connected to the system which can offer some interesting benefits – and headaches – for hardware developers. The display connection uses the DisplayPort standard and can be used along with the data connection without affecting bandwidth levels or performance.  

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For current Intel processor implementations, the Thunderbolt connection is supported by a separate controller chip on the motherboard (or a riser card) – and some routing is required for correct usage. The Thunderbolt controller does not actually include a graphics controller, so it must be fed an output from another graphics processor, obviously in this case directly from the Ivy Bridge / Sandy Bridge processors. In theory, these could be from other controllers, but with the ubiquitous nature of integrated processor graphics on IVB and SNB processors, this is going to be the implementation going forward according to motherboard and system designers. 

Continue reading our review of Thunderbolt on Windows and the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium!!

Google I/O: Google Glasses Made Available to Developers

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 11:12 PM |
Tagged: project glass, google+, google io, google glasses, google, explorer edition

One of the cooler presentations during today’s Google I/O Keynote events was the surprise reveal of Explorer Edition Google Glasses (the hardware emerging from Project Glass). They kicked off the presentation by live streaming a wing suit flight from a blimp using – you guessed it – Google Glasses and a Google+ Hangout. Extremely cool! The video of the event is embedded below for those that missed the live stream.

The Google Glasses have a built in camera and small transparent display mounted over the rim of the right glasses and is visible when looking slightly upwards. They have been constructed so that they are balanced, with the majority of the weight spread out behind and around the ears instead of being front-heavy and pushing down on the bridge of your nose. The Explorer (developer) Edition glasses are WiFi and Bluetooth only, and feature a touch pad on the right side and camera button on the top of the glasses rims. They further are able to locally store images or videos with the option to offload some or all of the media to your computer. (a 3G/4G modem would probably affect battery life too much to be useful).

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Despite feeling a bit like a Universal Soldier, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a pair of Google Glasses. The catch is that they are only available to Google I/O attendees, won't ship until early 2013, and will run $1500 each. That’s a high price for what would amount to a toy for me, but it is not out of the question to expect from a developer – who in turn gets early access to the hardware and can get a head start at developing applications for it.

My only real problem with the idea of wearing Google Glasses is that the company already has a mountain of data about me (Google+, Google search history, Analytics, Adsense, Drive, Play, Android, Chrome... wow I never really have Google-fied my browsing is!), and Google Glasses sound like a device that is a bit /too perfect/ of a tool for gathering data on me and presenting me with “relevant ads” for Google to ignore! (hehe)

What do you think of Google Glasses? Could you see yourself wearing them? And if so, what would you use them for?

Source: CNET

Careful with that, you'll poke an eye out, Max Payne 3 in 3D

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: max payne 3, gaming, 3d vision

We've seen a few reviews of Max Payne 3 go by, focusing on performance and the effects various graphical options have on the look and feel of the game, but so far little has been said about its 3D mode.  For those who have the gear it is possible to add more artificial depth to Max's character and as it happens Hi Tech Legion had the display, glasses and the NVIDIA Beta 304.48, which would be the needed checklist for enabling 3D.  They were quite impressed with the implementation and had no issues apart from a bit of blurry text.  If you have the desire and the equipment you can examine a few of their screen captures here, otherwise you shall have to content yourself with reading the review.

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"Max Payne 3 is the latest chapter in the 3rd person shooter title which debuted over 11 years ago for the PC. Max Payne is now living thousands of miles away from the grit and grim of New York and working in private security detail for a power Brazilian family in Sao Paolo. It is not all sunshine, beaches, and babes in bikinis for Max however, as he finds himself in the middle of a sprawling conspiracy involving all manner of Brazilian scum from the crevices of the Favela, the swampland militias as well as the ivory tower of ambitious politicians who would stop at nothing to add a few more zeroes to their paycheck. Max Payne 3 for the PC boasts detailed DirectX11 graphics and resurrects the "bullet time" gameplay everyone enjoyed in the original title that debuted over a decade ago now."

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