Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2011 - 06:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zenbook, ux31, ultrabook, asus
Finally a reviewer has managed to get their hands on an Ultrabook; The Tech Report gives the low down on ASUS' Zenbook UX31 in their lateset article. It is every bit as pretty as the pictures implied and is not too bad looking on the inside with a Core i5-2557M, 4GB DDR3-1333 on Intel's QS67 chipset with a 128GB Adata XM11 SSD for storage with the 1600x900 TN display powered by the SandyBridge processors onboard graphics engine. Interestingly, The Tech Report finds its physical characteristics to match or beat the 13" Macbook Air, which costs $200 more so perhaps there is hope for this form factor. Throughout the review are the inevitable comparisons to Apple, who have already mastered this form factor, as well as mention of the soon to be available IvyBridge books which should be about half the price.
"The first 13" ultrabook from Asus looks extremely tantalizing on paper—not to mention visually. Is it as good as it seems, and is it worth the $1,099 asking price?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP ProBook 4430s Review @ TechReviewSource
- ontemporary Netbook Platforms Comparison @ X-bit Labs
- Dell Vostro V131: A Budget Business Laptop @ AnandTech
- Asus Zenbook UX31 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Spire Cassi SP316PL @ CoD
- hermaltake Massive23 GT & Cooler Master NotePal U Stand Cooler @ kitguru
- Tablets of 2011: Holiday Season Update @ Techspot
- Rooting Sony PRS-T1 lets you get at the Android goodies @ Hack a Day
- HTC Titan Review: Windows Phone 7.5 on a Giant Screen @ techspot
- Samsung Galaxy SII Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Galaxy Fit Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Nokia Lumia 800 hands on @ The Inquirer
- Griffin Beacon Universal Remote for iPhone Review @MissingRemote
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2011 - 11:57 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: cortex, ARMv8, arm, 64bit
We've now some more detailed information on ARMs new 64 bit ARMv8 processor and its strengths and weaknesses. For the most part it resembles the 64 bit architecture that Intel and AMD use, an extended 32 bit architecture with several hold overs. Perhaps the most disappointing is that ARM has the same 48 bit limit to virtual address space that the competition has. If ARM had managed to overcome the limitations of canonical form addresses, they would have something that neither Intel nor AMD could bring to the server room. ARM desperately needs somthing to offer that the competition cannot if they are to convince admins to move from a familiar architecture to a brand new ARM architecture; power savings probably won't be enough. Drop by The Inquirer to read up on the improved exception levels and encryption acceleration of the new ARMv8 architecture.
"At the ARM TechCon conference in Santa Clara on Thursday, the top brass at ARM Holdings, the company that controls the core designs and licenses them to a slew of chip makers for modification in smartphones, tablets, and other embedded devices, showed off the new ARMv8 architecture. It's an incremental improvement over the current v7 architecture, just like the 64-bit extensions to the original 32-bit x86 processors from Intel and AMD were."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Quantum dots to revolutionize flat panel displays @ SemiAccurate
- Microsoft plans a commercial Kinect SDK next year @ The Inquirer
- Intel SNA Acceleration Architecture Continues To Mature @ Phoronix
- The Weight of an e-Book @ Slashdot
- The seed of something great: Acorn 3.1 reviewed @ Ars Technica
- Ubuntu 11.10: Xen vs. KVM vs. VirtualBox @ Phoronix
- LSI Purchase of SandForce - Our Discussion With VP Gary Smerdon @ The SSD Review
- The TR Podcast 99: New PC builds for a new Battlefield
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2011 - 02:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Portal 2, editor
Now do not get me wrong, I have no problems with complicated modding tools that give you nearly endless power over your creations: I just think this is cool. Valve has announced on their official Portal blog that they are soon releasing a simplified puzzle creator for their popular crate dating sim, “Portal 2”. Along with the new editor for the mod creators themselves, mod consumers will have an easier time acquiring the puzzles they desire through Valve’s Steam Cloud service. According to the screenshots released by Valve, the puzzle creator looks startlingly like something out of the Sims -- potentially introducing more people into videogame modifications as a whole.
Be honest… how many of you will search the item repository for cake?
Image from Valve Software
This news comes on the heels of free DLC released for Portal 2’s co-op mode earlier this month. As a part of the Steam Cloud integration, community features will allow you to follow certain mod developers that you find make levels that speak to you (like the companion cube) and keep up to date with their works. Unfortunately, with Valve, the duration between announcement and release could be Half of your Life so there is no guarantee when we will see the tools and features. If only they could give us our personal Jonathan Coulton bundled with the editor.
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 05:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser
One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.
For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.
PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.
As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.
During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.
The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing? If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here. Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox. Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 02:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zelda, starcraft 2, starcraft, mod
So you may be aware by now that PC gamers often like to mess with their game and customize it as they desire. Sometimes you even see the magical situation where one game gets grafted into another like a turducken you can play with. You do not play with your food, do you? Regardless of your eating habits it is perfectly reasonable to play with a videogame in your videogame and could be reasonable in the near future to play some Zelda in your Starcraft.
Technically a turducken would be a Portal Gun inside Link to the Past inside Starcraft…
The mod appears to have made quite a bit of progress judging by three of their released videos. According to what I can tell: multiplayer is being worked upon, soldiers are related to zerglings by death, and chickens are no longer the most deadly beings of the land. Unfortunately, being that Link and the soldiers are the only units with attacks right now (so it would seem) it suffers from classic Starcraft 2 issues: Terran imba.
What do you think?
A few months ago, there was talk coming from Hewlett-Packard regarding their Personal Systems Group, which is the OEM/PC Manufacturing aspect of the company. Management talked and seemed to decide that they would pull and IBM and sell off their PC division to become a services company. This plan was pushed by the (now) former CEO Leo Apotheker who came from a services background. The company stopped rolling out WebOS devices including the HP Touchpad, and was further considering getting rid of the whole PC division.
A surprising "whoops" emanated from HP today as the new CEO Meg Whitman reversed the previous plans to spin off the PC or Personal Systems Group division. According to Ars Technica, HP’s PSG isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The site quoted the new HP CEO in stating “it’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers, and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees.” She believes keeping the Personal Systems Group makes HP stronger.
Not only is HP keeping the OEM aspects of the company alive, they are planning on expanding their current lineup in the mobile space with, and you guessed it, an ultrabook of all things! While this is likely much to the chagrin of our own Jeremy Hellstrom who would rather have 2 X79 motherboards duct taped together than an ultrabook, consumers and fans of a certain other fruit flavored slim form factor computer will likely appreciate some more competition in the ultrabook space to bring down prices a bit.
HP’s Executive Vice President over the PSG, Todd Bradley, has been quoted by several sites in a conference call yesterday as saying an HP Ultrabook is coming very soon.
"We’re very focused on having a suite in that ultramobile space. And you’ll see that very soon."
-via Maximum PC
What do you think of this move? Does HP need a lesson in moderation in a time when they are either all on or all off on decisions (that are further flip flopping back and forth), or will jumping into the Ultrabook game be a good thing for the company?
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2011 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, market share
Everyone's current favourite kicking horse, the ultrabook, is poised to take over almost half of all consumer notebook sales by the end of 2012 ... at least according to what DigiTimes heard from Intel. Even stranger is that instead of breaking out into laughter, the manufactures peg the likely market penetration at about 25%. Currently there are models from Acer and ASUS which you can purchase for your very own, but don't go out looking for reviews of them. You can find some quick previews and overviews but as far as performance testing you are not going to find the same information as is available for every other mobile form factor; take that as you will.
The Ultrabook is expensive, as SemiAccurate recently pointed out you can get better performance from a notebook half the price and almost the same size. It also seems odd that a form factor specifically limited to only 50,000 units produced in the first run is going to take over the market. Even with broader adoption from companies like Lenovo or Dell, the math does not seem to support a 25% share of the market, let alone 40% and requires you to completely ignore the willingness of the consumer to pay $1000+ for a mediocre laptop. It is small and shiny though; never underestimate the draw of shinies!
"While Intel aims to increase the proportion of ultrabooks among global shipments of consumer notebooks to 40% by fourth-quarter 2012, the proportion is estimated to only reach 20-25% based on current market conditions, according to sources from Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers.
The sources pointed out that most suppliers are aggressively developing components for ultrabooks, but actual order volumes have so far been below their expectations. Although the suppliers all understand that ultrabook are still testing the water, weakening growth of the traditional notebook market and dropping profits have prompted them to put great hopes on the success of ultrabooks.
As for Intel's 40% goal, the sources pointed out that Apple's MacBook Air will become a strong threshold for ultrabooks since there is not yet a single product can outmatch the MacBook Air in terms of performance and price."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- New in the Maker Shed: DIY Hologram Kit @ MAKE:Blog
- Microsoft banishes usage graphs so Windows 8 can show 640 cores @ The Register
- Google+ opens up to enterprises and apps @ The Register
- Insulin pump hack delivers fatal dosage over the air @ The Register
- (At least) 4 web authentication authorities breached since June @ The Register
- Exclusive: AMD far future prototype GPU pictured @ SemiAccurate
- BlizzCon 2011 Roundup @ HardwareHeaven
- Win the new Sapphire HD6970 Battlefield 3 FleX Edition! @ kitguru
Podcast #176 - X79 Motherboard Leaks, the Arrival of Ultrabooks, Lots of Gaming Talk, Viewer Questions and more!
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 06:08 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x79, podcast, Intel, gaming, bf3
PC Perspective Podcast #176 - 10/27/2011
Join us this week as we talk about X79 Motherboard Leaks, the Arrival of Ultrabooks, Lots of Gaming Talk, Viewer Questions and more!
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
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and sometimes Ryan Shrout
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:40 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:01:52 X79's from EVGA, four from Gigabyte and three from ASUS with Ivy Bridge still on time
- 0:08:00 Ultrabooks arrive to great indifference
- 0:13:01 ASUS N55 Core i7 15.6-in Notebook Review: Can One Laptop Do It All?
- 0:18:50 1050W Corsair HX1050
- 0:23:20 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:24:30 Bite me console boy
- 0:29:00 (Now playing live on) Arkham System Limits
- 0:31:48 BF3 system info and Fraggin' Frogs platoon with our own server
- 0:34:04 Skyrim system recommendations too ... please note DX9
- 0:35:30 Email from Corey about safe GPU temps
- 0:38:45 Email from Jon about what he NEEDS to play
- 0:44:05 Email from Thane from South Africa
- 0:44:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable USB 3.0 - STAE104
- Jeremy: Ha! Someone else's Ipad 2
- Josh: Since BD sorta fell down... Phenom II X6 1090T- watch for the sales
- Allyn: Ryan
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive
Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million." Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.
But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives. Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:
Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world. Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives.
While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units. Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!
Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices. (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!) But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!
WD drives aren't the only ones affected. When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:
When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:
"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."
While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:
In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.
Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger. That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012. With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity.
According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available. The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.
PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us. Stay tuned!
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, keyboard, mobile, touchpad, chill innovation
The tiny Chill Innovation KB-1BT Bluetooth Micro Keyboard is 155mm x 61mm x 12mm (6.1" x 2.4" x 0.5") so you obviously can't expect full sized keys especially with the 31mm2 (1.2"2) trackpad on the side. What you can expect is to hook up the keyboard wirelessly to any device that can manage Bluetooth, the USB connection is to recharge the keyboard. MektuMods enjoyed using the device but question its value, the model they reviewed was 70 Euros (~$100USD) to purchase.
"There are several keyboard/mouse bundles available these days. The new KB-1BT combines these two items into a single package. This is something that one could imagine using while watching movies via HTPC or writing a document with an iPad. So, is it worth your money? Let us find out..."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Edition @ Bjorn3D
- Thermaltake MEKA G-Unit Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- RAZER BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Edition - Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ Madshrimps
- SteelSeries 7G Mechanical Keyboard @ Tweaktown
- SilverSton?e SST-EC03B USB 3.0 PCI Express Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Silverstone SST-TS07B Enclosure & EC03B Internal USB3.0 PCIe Card @ kitguru
- Mad Catz Street Fighter X Tekken Arcade FightStick Pro @ Benchmark Reviews
- Microsoft Explorer Touch Mouse @ Techspot
- Microsoft Touch Mouse Review @ Real World Labs
- Logitech Couch Mouse M515 Review @ TechReviewSource