Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 14, 2012 - 04:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, wearable computers
Valve has been under the public eye since rumors of The Steam Box broke. To put out the rumors, Michael Abrash -- now at Valve -- announced their mystery project investigates computing devices that you can wear.
Great, that is just what we need, more Steam punks and their costumes.
Valve has traditionally been somewhat of a quiet company accustomed to public speculation. In a change of pace from the typical cries to release Half Life 2: Episode 3, Valve has recently been subject to rumors about breaking into the hardware business. In another change of pace, Valve has announced their hardware project is wearable computers and publicly solicited for job applicants to join in the research.
Want me to show you my knife collection?
(Photo Credit, Giant Bomb)
Michael Abrash wrote in his blog on Valve’s website what his work is based on and it is quite similar to what Google is looking at with their augmented reality glasses.
By “wearable computing” I mean mobile computing where both computer-generated graphics and the real world are seamlessly overlaid in your view; there is no separate display that you hold in your hands (think Terminator vision).
While this is very interesting, it still remains to be seen where Valve intends to be involved with this project. Steam is pushing out from the desktop PC to the home theatre with their Big Picture UI and what that could potentially spread out into.
It is entirely possible that Google and Valve both see some link between Steam/Google TV and Wearable Computers/Augmented Reality glasses that we are just unable to perceive yet and are lunging for the same target. While the blog posting is very interesting, it still reveals little about the technology itself.
Also, this announcement does not mean that Valve is not working on a hardware platform to accompany The Big Picture, it just says more about what Valve is currently working on in secret. The previous rumors could still have some shred of truth in them.
As for when we will see wearable computing? It’s still a long ways out in Valve time.
To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development.
Subject: Systems | April 13, 2012 - 04:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, mini-itx, Logic Supply, LGX AG150 Fanless Mini PC, htpc, Atom N2800
Defining the size of the Logic Supply LGX AG150 Fanless Mini PC as being 1.2 litres is a unique way of describing just how small this machine is. You can see from the picture below that a pair of serial ports takes up a significant portion of the front panel. Part of the reason for this is the completely fanless design, the heatsink obscuring the Atom N2800 has TIM on it to allow the entire top of the case to distribute the heat. The SSD drive also helps slim the machine down and also adds snappy performance as well. The Intel DN2800MT mini-ITX board powers the SSD and can fit up to 4GB of RAM in its two slots and the Intel GMA 3650 powers the HDMI and VGA ports with enough processing power for you to watch HD video. As it is a totally silent HTPC, it should come as no surprise that it was Silent PC Review who received this box for testing.
"This new PC from specialist Logic Systems is based around the recently released Intel DN2800MT "Marshalltown" mini-ITX Atom board, a long-awaited follow-up to the original "Thin ITX" board, the Intel D945GSEJT. Super low energy consumption, 1080P video capability and a tiny 1.2 liter form factor should be compelling for Mini PC enthusiasts."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ZOTAC ZBOX Blu-Ray AD05 Plus Mini PC Review @ HardwareHeaven
- RaidSonic ICY BOX IB-MP3011Plus Network Media Player Review @ NikKTech
- Zotac ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus: Redefining the Small Form Factor PC @ AnandTech
- SilverStone GD06 Home Theater PC Case @ Computing on Demand
- Arctic MC001-BD Blu-Ray Entertainment Center Review @ eTeknix
- nMedia HTPC 7000B SFF Case Review @ Hardware Canucks
- USB 3.0 to HDMI & VGA External Video Card @ CoD
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 13, 2012 - 01:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box
Doug Lombardi of Valve denied rumors of the Steam Box console last month, but fell short of denying future possibilities and so forth. Recently, Valve has posted a job opening on their website for an electronics engineer.
When Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to rumors of a “Steam Box” console, he used the following words which were posted all over the internet as Valve denies Steam Box console rumors:
We're prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we're building boxes to test that on. We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount, […] All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.
As it turns out Valve has just recently posted a job position for a Hardware Engineer with the following duties:
Work with the hardware team to conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware
Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.
While that hardware engineer position could be any number of things including peripheral development, it is clear that Valve wants to get into hardware more than they let on. This looks to be more than just development hardware.
Introduction and Exterior
When we do system reviews at PC Perspective we tend to look for some specific feature, or some unique asset, that the builder has to provide value to the consumer and potential customer. I have seen systems that provided a great cost value, ones that offer an extremely quiet experience, some that are in a small form factor, etc. Our review of the MAINGEAR Shift custom machine is here due simply to an impressive collection of hardware.
While you can grab a Shift PC starting under $2000, ours isn't going to come anywhere near that. In fact, as of this writing, the configuration we are detailing would run you about $6,200. Why? Take a look at the specifications:
- Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
- 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866
- ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79 Motherboard
- 3 x Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Cards
- 2 x Corsair Force GT 120GB SSDs (RAID-0)
- 1TB Western Digital 7200 RPM HDD
- Corsair AX1200 watt power supply
- MAINGEAR Epic 180 water cooler
- MAINGEAR Epic Audio system
- Fancy White LEDs
So with a Sandy Bridge-E processor, 16GB of memory, three HD 7970s running in CrossFireX and Corsair SSDs running in a RAID-0 array, this is one of the fastest gaming PCs you can purchase today.
A Look at the Shift
The specifications are just part of the story though; MAINGEAR is well known for building a high quality machine with attention to detail and continues to push forward with unique ideas like a vertical system design (first system builder to introduce it), custom 180mm water coolers and even in-house thermal interfaces.
While MAINGEAR does offer systems in a variety of colors, our system uses the basic brushed black aluminum. The window on the side panel is another option that was included on our demo rig.
Subject: Systems | April 10, 2012 - 02:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Z9 PE-D8 WS, E5-2660, E5-2687W, xeon
The ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WorkStation motherboard is a great platform for those looking to run two LGA2011 Xeon processors, as well as support for up to four GPUs from either NVIDIA or AMD. As it is a PCIe 3.0 board, you can run two cards at a full 16x, with four cards they would all run at 8x speeds. Overclock3D tried two different pairs of octocore Xeons, the 3.1GHz E5-2687W and the 2.2GHz E5-2660 to compare the effect of the base clock speeds on performance. The faster machine is a F@H monster, running over 100,000 PPD, though in other tests it did not out pace the competition by such a wide margin. That is especially true for gaming tests, where you seem to be better off with a highly overclocked i7-3960X.
"What would happen if you combined the power of the ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS and two of the latest Xeon processors? We find out."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Asus ET2700INKS Review @ TechReviewSource
- TechSpot PC Buying Guide - Just Updated!
- OCUK Titan 8500i Vortex @ Kitguru
- Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo C325 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Alienware Aurora R4 @ Kitguru
- Foxconn Nano PC nT-i1500 Barebone Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm
The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.
According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.
The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).
Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?
If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | April 7, 2012 - 06:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: shift, maingear, just delivered, HD 7970, 7970
Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
While we get sent complete system builds from time to time, it's pretty rare when they actually impress me. Because we review and work with the best harware in the business on a daily basis, something unique really has to be there for us to really be wowed. Today we were playing with a custom built MAINGEAR SHIFT machine that did just that.
The SHIFT is the company's flagship product line that starts out with an $1800+ price tag, so you know you are getting top of the line components. Our test system includes a Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E processor as well as a trio of Radeon HD 7970 cards from AMD. That's right, three.
The internals are lit by a white LED and the black/red color pattern of the graphics cards is continued with the inclusion of matching Corsair DDR3 memory to the tune of 16GB and the MAINGEAR EPIC 180 self-containted water cooler.
Corsair's AX1200 watt power supply is included in the build and it is necessary! During our testing so far we found the PC could draw as much as 1050 watts from the wall while running 3DMark11.
Another exclusive feature for the MAINGEAR systems is the EPIC Audio system that adds studio quality audio headphone output and microphone input. The licensed Aphex technology is touted by the company as being really impressive and I am looking forward to giving it a try this week.
With our time with the SHIFT so far, the build quality has been impressive, the lack of crapware on the system is a welcome change and the performance is simply astounding as we expected with a SNB-E CPU and triple HD 7970s in CrossFireX.
Expect more very soon!
PC Perspective in cooperation with PCAudioLabs and Intel recently held a contest to give away a complete editing PC with software to one lucky reader. The PC in question was the company’s RokBox music creation system and features a Sandy Bridge-E processor, Intel 510 series SSD, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a GTX 560 Ti for a bit of gaming when procrastinating waiting for the encodes to finish.
Well, the contest ended on March 6th, and the lucky winner was user Cameron Berry! He has since sent us a thank you e-mail (no, thank you Cameron for reading our stuff!) with photos of the unboxing and a time lapse video that is sure to make you envious!
“Thank you PC Perspective and PCAudioLabs for this amazing machine! I look forward to smooth video editing and audio creation with this sweet rig.... and some gaming of course too.”
Below is the time lapse video mentioned above showing the unboxing. Congratulations to Cameron, I hope that he has a lot of fun with the new machine!
Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 31, 2012 - 07:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: laptops, desktops
ZDNet and others published articles discussing the rising prices of PCs: it needs a grain of salt.
News publications love to publish large stories about how an industry is forcibly altered. For instance, are you sick of stories proclaiming the term “Post PC” yet? It is the season’s fashion to paint darker tones over any portrait of the personal computer.
According to a report from Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, certain PC components have gotten more expensive due to a series of recent events. It does not look like such a bleak future, however. Granted, ZDNet and Barclays Capital are both focused on their investment-oriented customers, but still.
As you can clearly see, the PC is doomed.
Image from Don McMillan presentation.
Foremost on the list of concerns is the elevated price of hard drives. ZDNet claims that Apple will have an advantage due to their switch to solid state devices in Macbook Airs and iPads. Apple does not have an advantage -- anyone can put an SSD in their devices, and many PC manufacturers who sell their product for a base price of a thousand dollars do if it suits the goal of the product.
LCD panels are expected to elevate in the near future as OEMs build up inventory ahead of the launch of Windows 8-based products. I am sorry, but come on. Prices of components tend to rise when you abruptly spike in sales. Moving on…
DRAM prices have also risen about 7 percent compared to just a few months ago. My issue is that RAM prices have absolutely plummeted since even just last year. For a PC which costs four hundred dollars, RAM is expected to make up just $15 of that. 7 percent on $15 is, for all practical purposes, a rounding error for a $400 device.
The sky is not falling.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | March 30, 2012 - 02:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi has been further delayed while it acquires an additional certification to conform to British Law. The delay affects all regions because the products are shipped to the UK before being distributed internationally. The delay is expected to last just a couple of weeks.
It has almost been a year since the first announcement of the Raspberry Pi ultra-cheap PC and we can almost taste its arrival. Originally inspired by David Braben, developer of games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, the Raspberry Pi was built to cheaply enable students to learn computing.
As it turns out, the cost and performance of the device drew massive attention from the hobbyist and home theatre crowd. All interested parties will need to wait, however, as the product has been briefly delayed again because someone forgot to cross their t’s.
C’mon, almost there, almost there.
All joking aside, the delay is quite small and minor and will still ship within their original target window. The delay was caused by the foundation failing to be granted a Conformité Européenne (CE) mark for their product. The CE certification is the direct analogy to the FCC’s electromagnetic (EM) noise certification which must be obtained for cellphones and other electronic devices in the United States. CE certification is expected to take just a couple of weeks.
Delivering a product is an involved task. I am willing to give the foundation a pass on this specific delay due to their lack of experience in their field. That is unless of course the product is found to interfere with EM broadcasts of some protected frequency. That -- would suck.
Then again, I have also not attempted to order a Raspberry Pi so perhaps my opinion is invalid. What do you think?