Fruit flavoured TV or DIY HTPC?

Subject: Systems | April 27, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: htpc, apple tv

Missing Remote, masters of all things HTPC, had a chance to try a product similar to many they have reviewed in the past, only this one bears a silver fruit symbol on it.  Right from the start there were obvious deficiencies as well as good features, the power wiring was designed not to block more than one power outlet but there was no HDMI cabling.  On the software side there were exhaustive controls for colour space, but no support for the wireless WPS standard and apparently the box forgot their WPA key on occasion.  They ended by recommending this $100 device for anyone looking for a better NetFlix experience but caution that iTunes is no replacement for BluRay.

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"In our first look at the new 2012 Apple TV it was clear that the form factor and basic function was consistent with many of the other over the top (OTT) media streamers on the market, but it was the visual appealing user interface (UI) that really shines compared to similar devices which became apparent in the video walkthrough. What was not clear, given the brief time with the Apple TV, was how it performs after the first-impression sheen has worn off or how the recently upgraded 1080p iTunes content stacks up against established OTT services like Netflix and VUDU, or the current top-end option, Blu-ray. Having spent the focused energy to really get to know the device it is time to come back with answers to those questions, as well as provide a fuller picture of what is provided by Apple’s OTT streamer refresh."

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Looking for a low power SFF system you don't have to build yourself? Try Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p

Subject: Systems | April 24, 2012 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: silent, SFF, Lenovo, ThinkCentre M91p

Most people who want a small form factor PC at home are those who will build it themselves, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so.  That is where systems like the Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p come in handy.   Powered by a 2.7GHz Core 5-2500S, a single 4GB DIMM of DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD it is not overwhelming in its abilities but certainly qualifies as a low heat and low noise machine.  Silent PC Review thought that this machine would be better for an office PC than an HTPC as the Intel HD3000 struggles with playback in some cases but are very glad to see the rare 2500S in a system as it is hard to purchase as a seperate item but is quite nice with a turbo speed of 3.7GHz.

SPCR_m91p.jpg

"The USFF version of Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p packs a significant punch in a small package. Utilizing an Intel "S" low power processor and a 150W external AC power adapter, it's also incredibly energy efficient."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

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Just Delivered: Corsair K60 & K90 Vengeance Mech Keyboards Type Hard, Type Harder, Type Hard: With a Vengeance

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | April 21, 2012 - 01:24 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair

Just Delivered is a class of articles at PC Perspective where we share what crosses into our offices, labs, houses, or pseudo-classified locations with crummy internet. Today we look at the Corsair Vengeance line of mechanical keyboards. We have received both the K60 FPS keyboard as well as the K90 MMO keyboard.

Some people say that when you try a mechanical keyboard, something just clicks.

That is not really the case for the Corsair Vengeance line of keyboards which use the linear Cherry MX Red switches. The key gives a light constant resistence until it hits bottom. Check out our explanation of the various type of switches from a few months ago to see the differences between Cherry MX switches.

corsairkeyboard.jpg

Seems quite odd, grammatically, to enter a market of new competitors with a Vengeance...

Just saying...

First impressions are that Corsair really put some thought and effort into these keyboards. Wrist rests snap into place and, in the K90's case, get screwed in for total stability. The brushed metal top is a great touch and gives the feeling of quality.

Each keyboard has a few non-mechanical keys which slightly take away from that feeling -- but that will be discussed in a more formal review setting.

corsairkeyboard2.jpg

Just for irony... I might play Wing Commander: Privateer as part of the Corsair review.

While Corsair to some extent markets these keyboards at different audiences -- it really does seem at first glance like the K90 is a direct upgrade to the K60, rather than a sidegrade. Apart from the custom shaped WSAD keys and the wrist rest, I cannot see much reason to go for the K60 over the K90 except for price.

That said, we shall find out for sure in the full review to be started shortly.

Source: PCPer

NAB 12: ACME Portable Machines Seahawk 100 on show floor

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 17, 2012 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: NAB 12, ACME

ACME Portable Machines showed off their Seahawk 100 computer on the show floor of the National Association of Broadcasters 2012 show. Multiple monitors, ruggedized, semi-portable, but slightly out of date on the hardware side.

When you think about portable computing: do you think about a laptop or a tablet? Either way you probably do not think about this product. But, should you?

Well if you did you would probably know it.

ACME Portable Machines is showing off the Seahawk 100 at NAB this week. The purpose for the device is to bring a fully functional multi-monitor computer where you need it, to plug it in, and to be assured that it will work.

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Just don't give in to the temptation to make people call you the operator...

Functionally the device is slightly out of date with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S 2.83 GHz processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 video card, and 2-8 GB of RAM. If your desire is to play Starcraft 2 on the three monitors than you should have no problems, but that is not why you are purchasing this PC. If you are the type of person to visit the NAB show you probably will wish to include much more RAM than the default 2GB -- or even if you are not, 2GB is quite low nowadays.

ACME-2.jpg

It's not a tumah!

Price is only available by quote, but check out their website for more information. The design definitely looks interesting for users of its niche -- professionals in the field who just cannot live without the flexibility of multiple screens.

Thanks to our friend Colleen for the heads up and photos!

Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 14, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
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.

Gaben.jpg

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.

So, which will we see first? Valve augmented reality devices, or the stunning conclusion to Gordon Freeman’s story-arc? That is a bet that will require one heck of a patient bookie to make.
Source: Valve

Logic Supply has an interesting way of sizing their smaller HTPCs

Subject: Systems | April 13, 2012 - 04:15 PM |
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.

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"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:

Systems

 

Valve denies Steam Box, posts job for Hardware Engineer

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 13, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
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.

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That is not a denial!
(Image created with Memegenerator.net)
(And yes, I know that's Gabe Newell, not Doug Lombardi)

 

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.

Source: Valve
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: MAINGEAR

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.  

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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.

Continue reading our review of the MAINGEAR Shift Triple HD 7970 Gaming Rig!!

For your enjoyment; a little dual Xeon action

Subject: Systems | April 10, 2012 - 02:48 PM |
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.

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"What would happen if you combined the power of the ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS and two of the latest Xeon processors? We find out."

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Source: Overclock3D

Raspberry Pi Computers Pass EMC Compliance Testing

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM |
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.

Raspberry-Pi.jpg

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!