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 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,10 2006 - tech 
Radeon X1900-series roundup - tech
(hx) 01:49 PM EST - Feb,10 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at Bi-Tech have tested three X1900 XTX cards (Club 3D, Connect3D and Sapphire), one X1900 XT (PowerColor) and one X1900 All-in-Wonder. The Radeon X1900XTX cards are all clocked at the reference clocks of 650/1550MHz, while PowerColor's Radeon X1900XT is clocked at 625/1450MHz and the All-In-Wonder comes clocked at 500/960MHz with only 256MB of memory.
So, which one do you buy? Ultimately, it depends on what you're looking for, and whether you're looking for a video card with a games bundle. If you're looking for something with a bundle of games, the Sapphire Radeon X1900XTX looks to be the best choice out there. The extra L1 asking price over Club 3D's Radeon X1900XTX well worth it if you're after a good solid bundle. Having said that, Club 3D's bundle is pretty good too and it was the best-packed card of the bunch with its foam cutout protection.

Connect3D's card is also tremendous value (for a high-end card) at L400, especially when you consider that NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX 512 costs well over L500 if you can find it available in the UK. Overclockers are selling BFG Tech's card at a whopping L646.19 including VAT. At least it's available, though. There's nothing to write home about when it comes to Connect3D's bundle, but it's adequate and has everything that you're going to need to get the card up and running in the latest and greatest games.

PowerColor's Radeon X1900XT is also pretty good value and the performance is generally very close to the performance delivered by the Radeon X1900XTX cards. Our sample overclocked to Radeon X1900XTX speeds, but it didn't go any further than that. Of course, overclocking is a lottery, so we can't guarantee that every Radeon X1900XT will overclock to XTX clock speeds. By the same token, other Radeon X1900XTs might overclock even further than the one we've got here. The bundle doesn't come with any games, but it does come with a decent amount of multimedia software.

The one reason not to get a Radeon X1900XTX at the moment would be ATI's CrossFire technology. It seems a little strange that ATI chose to use the Radeon X1900XT clock speeds on the CrossFire Edition card, as it means that the Radeon X1900XTX will be clocked down to the same 625/1450MHz, rendering the additional cost for an XTX a little pointless if you've got the vision of moving towards CrossFire later down the line.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,09 2006 - tech
ATI CATALYST Drivers v6.2 - tech
(hx) 06:29 PM EST - Feb,09 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)
ATI has released a new ATI Catalyst drivers (release notes / download ~ 34.7MB) bringing them up to version 6.2. The package contains: RADEON display driver 8.221, Multimedia Center 9.13 Catalyst Control Center 6.2 (requires NET Version 11 Framework), HydraVision Basic Edition 3.25.9006, Remote Wonder 3.03, WDM versions 8.221 and 4.07 and Southbridge/IXP Driver.
Issues Resolved in Catalyst Software Suite 6.2:
  • BattleField 2 Special Forces: A blooming or ghosting effect is no longer noticed when playing the game in night vision mode. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21648
  • City of Heroes: Running Shadertest 7 no longer results in slow performance being noticed. Further details can be found in topic number 737-21463
  • Dragonshard: Playing the game under Windows XP Media Center Edition with CrossFire™ enabled, no longer results in the screen becoming out of sync, and a scrolling display image occurring shortly there after. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-20975
  • Fable: The Lost Chapters: Playing the game under Windows XP MCE may result in the shadows found within the game appearing jittery, when the desktop resolution is set to 1024x768 32bpp, and all the game options are set to default. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21184
  • Half-Life2: Enabling Catalyst AI no longer results in the outer edges of the water appear dark or black in color. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number. 737-21649
  • Pacific Fighters: A stuttering effect at certain levels of the game is no longer noticed when playing the game with CrossFire enabled. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21650
  • The Fall: A VPU Recover event or the operating system failing to respond no longer occur when playing the game. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21651
  • World of Warcraft: Pixel corruption is no longer noticed when playing the game on systems containing an ATI Radeon X1600 series. Further details on this resolved issue can be found in topic number 737-21652
Western Digital WD1500ADFD: King Raptor - tech
(hx) 07:36 AM EST - Feb,09 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
The chaps over at AnandTech take a look at the Western Digital WD1500ADFD. The drives still sports the 10,000 RPM spindle speed, 4.6 milli-second read seek time, and a two-platter design now at 150-gigabyte capacity. The platter's density has been increased to 75-gigabytes and equals those of its 10,000 RPM SCSI competitors. The buffer size has been doubled to 16 megabytes, matching the latest offerings from other drive manufacturers.
Western Digital has addressed the shortcomings of its previous models with the addition of a 16 MB buffer, NCQ, and native SATA implementation wrapped in two different packages depending upon your tastes and budget. With the upcoming transition from the parallel SCSI Ultra320 interface to the new Serial Attached SCSI interface, the drive stands a very good chance at competing successfully in the entry-level enterprise market. The SAS standard offers interoperability with the current SATA standards. In fact, both standards utilize the same physical connectors, while SAS host adapters can control SATA drives. This also offers the opportunity for the drive to become a standard in the workstation market where, historically, SCSI has competed well against SATA based upon performance to price ratios.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,08 2006 - tech
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU - tech
(hx) 08:56 AM EST - Feb,08 2006 - Post a comment
GamePC posted a review on the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU. This new FX-60 dual-core processor has two cores running at 2.6 GHz, each with their own 1 MB of cache to utilize (2 MB total). With each core running at a brisk 2.6 GHz.
The FX-60 is the fastest processor out there, and Intel's offerings really aren't coming close in the big picture. Our benchmarks clearly show that this new FX model gives better performance compared to AMD's own Athlon64 X2 models along with Intel's new Pentium-D processors. While Intel has improved performance and efficiency with their new 900-series chips, and they can even win a benchmark here or there, it's still pretty clear that AMD owns the dual-core arena. The FX-60 really is the best of both worlds, as the chip provides excellent performance in both workstation-class application and games.

However, the limitations of the FX-60 chip also reveal potential kinks in AMD's armor, most notably dealing with their manufacturing process. The FX-60 is based on 90nm technology, and AMD is pushing the limits of how far they can take their design while manufacturing at this level. The FX-60 chip chews quite a lot of power, creates noticeably more heat than its predecessors, and generally does not overclock well, all three are signs that their current architecture is reaching its limitations. That's not to say that AMD couldn't refresh their chips to last a little longer, but if they don't do something fast, it's unlikely that they will be able to get beyond 2.8 GHz on their current 90nm tech. Luckily, AMD has 65nm tech in the pipeline, and all signs point to them making the switch sometime this year.

None of these minor nuisances should keep potential buyers away. The price-tag, however, certainly will. The FX-60 is a tough pill to swallow at roughly $1200, especially when AMD just dropped prices on their Athlon64 X2 lineup, and the (still very fast) X2 4800+ processor is nearing half that level at around $700. The FX-60 is certainly not a winner in the price/performance realm, but the FX lineup never has been. It's excessive and un-necessary, but if you're looking for the best, well, here it is.
Lifebook P7120 - tech
(hx) 08:15 AM EST - Feb,08 2006 - Post a comment
MobileMark 2005 perfomance
Trusted Reviews take a look at the Lifebook P7120 from Fujitsu-Siemens. This new model has taken the best parts of the P7010 and then had the latest in mobile technology added to it. The processor is an ultra low voltage Pentium M 753 which is clocked at a comparably slow 1.2GHz. However, the ULV processor means that you get less heat and longer battery life. Interestingly, the Lifebook P7120 is passively cooled; there isn't a single fan inside it.
Performance wise the Lifebook P7120 is no scorcher, but it compares well to similar machines. However, the Sony Vaio TX1XP offered about the same performance and had longer battery life, but at a higher price. Still, with seven minutes short of five hours battery life in MobileMark 2005 it's hard to complain and the DVD playback test was two minutes short of four hours.
This doesn't mean that the Lifebook P7120 is a bad notebook by any means as there are few that can touch it in terms of battery life in its class. Considering that you can pick ono up for L1,397.08 this is a pretty good value proposition for anyone that needs an ultra portable machine with a built in drive. Fujitsu-Siemens has once again shown that the Lifebook P family of ultra portable notebooks is one of the best
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,07 2006 - tech
NVidia Forceware 81.98 WHQL Drivers (Feb7) - tech
(hx) 02:44 PM EST - Feb,07 2006 - Post a comment
A new WHQL Forceware graphics drivers v81.98 (dated February 7, 2006 -  Win2k/XP ~ 20.8MB) are available for download from the official NVIDIA download page. These WHQL certified drivers add support for GeForce 7800 GS AGP.
Issues Resolved in Version 81.98:
- Removed the Direct Access functionality from the driver user interface.
- Low Viewperf 8.01 scores occur with Dual Core and dual processor systems.
- Dual Core Processors: Corel Paint Shop Pro X does not work.
- Rendering problems occur in Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
- GeForce 7 Series: Ground textures in Flight Simulator 2004 do not render correctly when using “Ultra High” settings.
- GeForce 7800 GTX 512: The system cannot resume from Standby.
- GeForce 7800 GTX/GT: Running F.E.A.R. hangs the system on the Apple 30ʺ Cinema display when Monitor Scaling is used.
- GeForce 7800 GTX/GT, GeForce 6800/6600: Ground and water textures are corrupted when zooming out in Civilization 4.
- GeForce 7800 GTX/GT, GeForce 6800: Shadows fail to render in Splinter Cell 1.
- Dual GeForce 7800 GTX/GT: Everquest 2 launches to a black screen when antialiasing is set to 2xQ at 1920 x 1200 resolution.
- GeForce 7800 GTX 512: Chronicles of Riddick does not run at resolutions higher than 800x600.
- GeForce 7800, GeForce 6800: Corruption is seen in Flight Simulator 2004.
- GeForce 7800 GTX, GeForce 6800, Quadro FX 4500: The system slows down with the Liquid Edition SD time line.
- GeForce 6800: Wrong colors appear when playing QuickTime trailers using the non-native video resolution.
- GeForce 6800 Ultra / GeForce FX 5950 Ultra: Battlefield 2 has corruption or crashes when a player switches from zoomed commander view to zoomed sniper view.
- GeForce 6800: Shimmering or cropping of the full-screen video mirror occurs when covering the video window with another window.
- GeForce 6150/6100, Windows XP Media Center Edition: The driver does not recognize display connection changes that occur during a system shutdown.
- GeForce 6100/6150, Windows Media Center Edition 2005 Update Rollup 2: HD modes are listed as available when a TV is connected using S-Video.
- GeForce 6150/6100, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005: The display remains inactive when resuming from Suspend mode.
- GeForce FX 5200: Textures disappear in CrimeLife v105.
- GeForce4 Ti 4200, Windows 98: Java applications crash when calling OpenGL
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,06 2006 - tech
NVIDIA GeForce 6800GS Roundup - tech
(hx`) 11:51 AM EST - Feb,06 2006 - Post a comment
LegionHardware tested six different NVIDIA GeForce 6800GS video cards - three eVGAa GeForce 6800GS graphics cards (425, 450 and 490Mhz models), two Leadtek WinFast cards (425 and 485Mhz), Gigabyte GV-NX68G256D-B (425Mhz), Microstar MSI NX6800GS-TD256E (425MHz), PNY Verto GeForce 6800GS PCIe Overclocked (470MHz) and two cards from XFX (450Mhz and 485Mhz):
Given that all six manufacturers included in this roundup used the exact same cooling design, being the NVIDIA reference cooler, there was not a lot that could be compared here. The biggest alterations here had to do with the graphic plastered to the cooler. Even the PCB designs were identical with almost all of them using the same components. Furthermore, all were able to achieve a core clock of over 500MHz and a memory frequency of 1.2GHz. This leaves us with only the price and package for comparison.

The first question you have to ask yourself is do you need to purchase a pre-overclocked graphics card? I guess to do this you first need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages to such a purchase. The advantages to a pre-overclocked graphics card are better performance, although limited improvements they are there nonetheless. Another would be the fact that the manufacturer guarantees the overclock and it does not affect the warranty. Finally the last advantage is inexperienced users get the extra performance without the "daunting" overclocking procedure.

Okay so the disadvantages are? Well first and foremost the price, manufacturers seem to charge at least another $20 US for the overclocked variant. The performance increase on average was about 5% while the price increase was in some cases a 20% rise. Although some users may consider overclocking to be daunting this really is not the case. Most graphics cards even come with user friendly overclocking software these days. Nevertheless, the coolbits registry hack is the quickest and easiest way to overclock any NVIDIA based graphics card.

Therefore I strongly do not believe there is any value in purchasing a pre-overclocked graphics card if the same manufacturer sells a standard card for $20 US less. More often than not the memory is the same, the PCB design is the same and the cooling solution is the same. Therefore consumers are paying potentially $20 US more for a procedure that should take no more than 5 minutes. Squeezing another 55MHz out of a GeForce 6800GS core is extremely easy and I do not believe there is a 6800GS card out there that cannot achieve this.

The GeForce 6800GS is designed to be the ultimate performance vs. price graphics card. Therefore if I were to be purchasing one I would be aiming to pick up the cheapest version possible. This would leave me with the eVGA e-GeForce 6800 GS, Gigabyte GV-NX68G256D-B, MSI NX6800GS-TD256E and Leadtek WinFast PX6800 GS TDH. The prices of these four graphics cards will vary depending on where you look, though they should all be around the $190 US mark. While I am a huge fan of the MSI and Gigabyte cards I really like what the Leadtek WinFast PX6800 GS TDH has to offer at the price point. Therefore I am going to give this Leadtek graphics card the Legion Hardware Value Award!
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,05 2006 - tech
Sunday Tech Madness-Total Commander v6.54 - tech
(hx) 06:26 PM EST - Feb,05 2006 - Post a comment / read (28)

SECURITY...

  • Adobe Patches Photoshop, Illustrator Flaws - Adobe Systems has pushed out security patches to cover a potentially serious code execution flaw in the Adobe Creative Suite 2 platform. The flaw, which carries an "important" rating, affects Adobe Creative Suite 2, Adobe Photoshop CS2 and Adobe Illustrator CS2 on both Windows and Mac OS platforms.
  • Spyware tunnels in on Winamp flaw - A security bug in Winamp is being exploited by miscreants to install spyware on machines running the media player software, experts have warned. The Winamp problem affects version 5.12 of the media player. (fixed v5.13 is available here)
  • Warnings reduce effect of worm - Companies and people heeded this week's warning about a file-destroying computer worm known as ''Kama Sutra,'' helping minimize its damage Friday, security experts said
  • Computer virus fells Russian stock exchange - As the world waited for one computer virus to strike on Friday, another wriggled its way into the Russian stock exchange and knocked it offline. Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky said sources had revealed that the infected machine was controlled remotely to launch a denial-of-service (DoS) attack against other systems on the trading network.
  • WMF Exploits Sold By Russian Hackers - It's been revealed that the code used in attacks during December that exploited a flaw in Windows, was sold for just $4000.
  • Firefox Multiple Vulnerabilities - Multiple vulnerabilities have been reported in Firefox, which can be exploited by malicious people to bypass certain security restrictions, conduct cross-site scripting attacks, potentially disclose sensitive information, and potentially compromise a user's system.
  • MediaWiki Edit Comment Formatting Denial of Service - A vulnerability has been reported in MediaWiki, which potentially can be exploited by malicious people to cause a DoS (Denial of Service). The vulnerability is caused due to an error within the handling of edit comment formatting. This can be exploited to cause PHP to go into an infinite loop, potentially consuming a large amount of CPU resources, via certain malformed links. The vulnerability has been reported in version 1.4.x prior to 1.4.14, and in 1.5.x prior to 1.5.6.

CRIME/LAW...

  • US patent office agrees to review JPEG patent - The US patent office has agreed to review the controversial "JPEG patent" owned by Forgent Networks.
  • FAQ: When Google is not your friend - Google's recent legal spat with the U.S. Department of Justice highlights not only what information search engines record about us but also the shortcomings in a federal law that's supposed to protect online privacy.  It's only a matter of time before other attorneys realize that a person's entire search history is available for the asking, and the subpoenas begin to fly. This could happen in civil lawsuits or criminal prosecutions.
  • Apple sued over iPod earphones - A Louisiana man has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Computer for allegedly putting consumers at risk of suffering noise-induced hearing loss. Patterson claims that the iPods and the accompanying "ear bud" earphones are defectively designed.
  • RIAA tries forcing settlement out of a woman despite no PC - A home health aide in Brooklyn, New York, has been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading music files, even though the woman claims she has never used a computer, or even turned one on.

OFF-TOPIC

  • Google delists BMW germany for foul play - Google has flexed its muscles and dropped BMW Germany from its search engine following the German car manufacturer's attempts to artificially boost its popularity ranking.
  • Siemens launches first-person cameraphone soccer game - Ahead of this year's World Cup in Germany, Siemens have announced a cellphone soccer game that takes advantage of built-in phone cameras. The game, which is called Kick Real, works by reading the location of the player's feet. Players will be able to take virtual penalty kicks by "aiming a mobile camera phone at their foot while kicking an imaginary ball."
  • Advent Children DVD finally coming to US - Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a movie set in the universe of one of Square Enix's popular Final Fantasy video games, may be released on DVD before the end of the year.
  • Man-made blood won't carry bacteria, viruses - Japanese firm Terumo claimed that artificial blood it developed won't pass on viral or bacterial infections.
  • Inside the brain of an alcoholic - A team in Australia has found that alcohol dampens down the expression of hundreds of genes in the amygdala, which might account for why alcoholics suffer dysfunctional symptoms such as disrupted sleep and depression. It may also help explain why recovering alcoholics are prone to relapse.
  • Vin Diesel to Topline Babylon A.D.? - According to Allocine.fr, French movie paper Le Film Français is reporting that Vin Diesel will star in Babylon A.D., a big-budget futuristic thriller to be directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (The Crimson Rivers, Gothika) from his script.
  • What is Google Maps hiding in this image? - check it out!

TECHNOLOGY...

  • AOL and Yahoo put price on e-mail - Companies will soon have to buy the electronic equivalent of a postage stamp if they want to be certain that their e-mail will be delivered to many of their customers. Under the scheme, the two firms will deliver special messages paying between a quarter of a cent to one cent to get them delivered.
  • Google Navigates Volkswagen Next - The Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) of Volkswagen located at the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, along with Google and chipmaker nVidia are reportedly working on an in-car navigation map system plus 3-D display, which is being touted as closer to virtual reality than ever before. The innovation promises to enable both driver and passenger to instinctively recognize their location vis- -vis the surrounding topography - particularly in urban areas.
  • LAPD to test new way to chase cars - The Los Angeles Police Department's latest plan to avoid high-speed car chases is a test of a high-tech version of darts used by Stone Age hunters. Police officers who observe a traffic violation or a possibly stolen car can dart it. The dart sticks to the car and gives off a radio signal, allowing police officers to avoid a dangerous hot pursuit and take more time going after the quarry.
  • The Future of Digital Camera Technology - CNet News has an interesting look at where digital camera technology is headed now that the megapixel buzzword can be put to rest.
  • Cutting edge round-up - The BBC have published an article showcasing some original new products from around the globe. Inventions include robots, touch screen coffee tables, electronic paper and the wackiest remote control ever.
  • ATI Trims Power Consumption of High-End Graphics Cards - When X-bit labs originally measured power consumption of high-end Radeon X1800 XT graphics card back in September, 2005, it was about 112W under maximum recently, the absolute maximum for that time. However, when the measurements were carried out later, the power consumption dropped to slightly below 103W on the same graphics card with the same BIOS version, but on a newer driver.
  • Few monitors and virtually no graphics cards are HDCP-Ready - As the launch of HD DVD and Blu-ray products draws near, a lot consumers are going to be disappointed to find that their TV, PC monitor or graphics card will not be compatible with the equipment if it does not fully support HDCP. When it comes to high definition TVs, any TV that is HD-Ready or HDCP Ready will be fine, however no CRT monitors and very few TFT displays currently available are HDCP Ready.
  • Sony Introduces RDR-VH95 and RDR-VH85 DVD, HDD and VHS Recorder - The Sony RDR-VH95 features a 250GB HDD and the RDR-VH85 a 160GB drive. Both can recorder DVD-RW and DVD-R discs. The new Sony recorders feature two tuners that enable users to record two programs on two media types at the same time.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • Power Consumption of Modern Graphics Cards - Is power consumption a problem? Yes
  • SLI: Myth and Reality Part 2 - In average, SLI can only offer around 30 % increase, occurring mostly when AA and AF are enabled. So, getting a single faster card is always better than putting two slow cards in an SLI setup.
  • How To Select A LCD For Gaming - With faster response time, smaller dot pitch and a host of other display technologies, the LCD monitor has become a viable choice for gaming.
  • 5 Tips For Buying A Laptop - Here are five tips that will help prepare you for making the best and most well informed decision when buying a laptop
  • How To Troubleshoot Wireless Networking Problems at The TechZone - To get you back up and running TechZone published this Wireless Networking Troubleshooting Guide.
  • How to Buy a PC Without Being Fooled - Tips on how to buy a PC without being fooled and how to check if the computer you've bought really has the parts you ordered.
  • BitTorrent Client Shootout - Hotwired take a look at the major BitTorrent clients.
  • Bittorrent Masking: How to Avoid Getting Tracked as You Download - If you are a bittorrent P2P downloader in the USA or UK, then you are at risk for legal prosecution. Because torrents use public locating servers called "trackers", your computer's IP address is publicly available. Any tech-savvy officer from the RIAA or MPAA who logs onto a torrent tracker can easily see the addresses of all people downloading that song or that movie.

SOFTWARE...

  • Total Commander v6.54 Final - Total Commander (download / changelog) is a file manager for Windows, a program like Windows Explorer to copy, move or delete files.
  • McAfee AVERT Stinger 2.6 - Stinger (download) is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system.
  • Bulk Rename Utility 2.2.9.0 - Bulk Rename Utility (download) is a utility which allows you to easily rename files and directories, based upon extemely flexible criteria. Add date-stamps, replace numbers, insert strings, convert case, add auto-numbers, process folders and subfolders, etc.
  • Picasa 2.2.0 Build 28.10 - Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize.
  • @icon sushi 1.19 - Image to icon converter (download) that supports the mask editor and the creation of Windows XP 32bit icons.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Jet 4.0 Database Engine Update - This update (download) provides proper default mapping in the Jet 4.0 Engine to the General (EN-US) LCID for language support added since the release of Windows 2000, and is discussed in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 913296.
  • BitTorrent 4.4.1 - This new version adds these features: no longer violates Windows hardware DEP; Windows installer no longer says "Could not initialize plugins directory"
  • Free DVD MP3 Ripper 1.21 - Free DVD MP3 Ripper (download) can extract audio from DVD, VCD/SVCD and MPEG (MPEG-1, MPEG-2) files into MP3 which can be played in MP3 Players.
  • Free iPod Video Converter 1.26 - Free iPod Video Converter (download) provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video. You can enjoy DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files in your iPod with few clicks.
  • AnyDVD 5.8.4.1 - SlySoft have released AnyDVD 5.8.4.1. What's new:  "Settec ALPHA-DVD protection" as found on "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" R2 (German) or "Old Boy - Final Edition" R3 (Korea) can now be copied with Drag and Drop in Windows explorer or with the copy command from the command prompt.
  • DVDInfoPro 4.54 build 2 - DVDInfoPro 4.54 build 2 is available for download! It fixes a small bug affecting some older Pioneer burners.
  • Central Brain Identifier 7.7.0.6 Build 0205 R6 - Central Brain Identifier 7.7.0.6 Build 0205 R6 is available for download! New feature include: negative processor temperature detection for Winbond I/O chips, improved support for Winbond I/O chips, full recognition of two Sempron 64 processors based on the Winchester core
  • NextSensor 1.0.1.0 Build 0202 - NextSensor is an easy to use temperature and voltage monitoring tool. It probes Vcore, VDIMM, VAGP, VBAT, 5VSB, 3VSB, +12, -12, +5V, -5V, +3.3V sensor lines and shows system temperatures (including processor, HDD and North Bridge) in the Tray Bar. The program is capable of monitoring negative temperatures. The current version supports Winbond Super I/O LPC chips only.
  • Realtek 8139(A/B/C/D/8130)/810X 6.39 NIC Drivers - download
  • nForce4 AMD/Intel v6.85 - Windows XP/2000 (32-Bit) - This new package features some "Compatibility fixes".
  • ForceWare 83.60 Win2000/XP  - Dell just released a ForceWare driver with revision 83.60, and yes .. they have the new control panel. The driver is initially intended for the GeForce Go laptop series. But since these puppies use the same.
2GB of RAM: Do We Really Need That Much? - tech
(hx) 10:37 AM EST - Feb,05 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
RAM provides a significant fps rate increase. In the best case (when you have 1GB modules installed) the performance gain may reach up to 10%
X-bit labs asks, "2GB of RAM: do we really need that much?"
Well, it's high time we summed up the results of our today's discussion. 1GB of RAM will be enough for almost any mainstream system. This amount of system memory guarantees comfortable work in all contemporary applications. You will even be able to run a few programs at the same time without much trouble when switching between them. The previous generation games will also run without delays with the maximum quality settings, and the latest games released in the end of last year will work fine with medium texture settings.

However, high-performance systems have to get 2GB of RAM. Gamers feel the need for this amount of system memory more than anybody else, if they want to be able to play the latest games with the high-quality image settings. Moreover, 2GB of RAM or even more than that will be very handy for professionals working in “heavy” applications processing large amounts of data.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,03 2006 - tech
Dell 2405FPW 24" monitor - tech
(hx) 09:30 AM EST - Feb,03 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
DesignTechnica take a look at the Dell 2405FPW 24" monitor ($893.99 at Amazon):
The image quality of the Dell 2405 is stunning. The once king of the large LCD displays, the 2001FP, looks downright dim when placed side by side. The 500 cd/m2 brightness rating makes whites bright and colors vibrant. The 1000:1 contrast ratio gives deep blacks and rich color transitions. And with a 12ms response time, even the fastest motion is as smooth as butter. Compared to the Apple 23-in. Cinema Display, the 250 cd/m2 brightness, 400:1 contrast ratio, and 16ms response time look second rate. The HP L2335 23-in. display uses the same panel as the Apple display, but improves the backlighting slightly, with a 500:1 contrast ratio. We used the 2405 with Quake 4, City of Villains, and Counterstrike: Source, and never observed any ghosting or smearing. We watched parts of The Matrix and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to test dark scenes and earth tones. We could find no shortcomings in image quality. The dot pitch is .27 mm, which is a little high, and accounts for the 1-in. vertical difference between the 2001FP and 2405FPW, since both have the same 1200 vertical pixel count.

The one glaring omission is an HDMI port. Without HDMI, and HDCP, protected high definition content such as HD-DVD and Blue-Ray Discs will not play at native resolution under the upcoming Windows Vista. An updated version of the 2405FPW is rumored to be in the works to add HDCP, but that doesn’t help owners of this display. We feel that if your primary use of the monitor will be for anything other than a high definition video display, you shouldn’t worry about the lack of HDCP. To be cautious, it might be worth waiting for the rumored 2407FPW with HDMI.
250GB hard drives roundup - tech
(hx) 09:07 AM EST - Feb,03 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
The chaps over at StorageReview have published their 250GB hard drives roundup - they compared the Hitachi Deskstar T7K250, Maxtor DiamondMax 10, Samsung SpinPoint P120, Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 and WD Caviar WD2500KS HDDs. All drives in this roundup feature two or three platters and incorporate a native SATA interface running at either 1.5 or 3.0 GB/sec. Some manufacturers outfit their budget-oriented drives with 8 megabytes of buffer while two have doubled cache to roomier 16-megabyte standard.
Hitachi Deskstar T7K250: The Deskstar 7K500 is easily the fastest 7200 RPM drive around. A bit gets lost in translation, however, when moving down to the 250-gigabyte model. The T7K250 lags the WD Caviar WD2500KS by a bit in the Office DriveMark and places fourth overall. Hitachi's drive finishes first or second in all other performance tests, however, and as a result is the fastest overall drive featured in this roundup. Its seek noise and active power draw, however, remain on the high side when contrasted with the competition.

Maxtor DiamondMax 10: This aging design seems to have a lot of pep remaining, especially evidenced by the smaller but more recently revised 250 GB drive's besting of the slightly larger (but older) 300 GB flagship. Maxtor's drives tend to enjoy a cost advantage... at the time of this writing, it is the only unit in the roundup with a best-case price tag resting just under $100. A decent performer, the DiamondMax 10's power dissipation levels and seek noises, like the Deskstar, sit slightly above the rest of the pack.

Samsung SpinPoint P120: Samsung's flagship no longer stands contrasted against competing units twice its size. In our productivity suite, the drive offers decent performance, placing near the top in both the Office and High-End tests. For gaming purposes, however, Samsung's design languishes near the bottom of the charts. On the plus side, even when going up against same-size competition, the SpinPoint's noise levels and power consumption are among the best around.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.9: In its flagship 500 GB incarnation, the Barracuda 7200.9 is a middling performer at best. The loss of half its capacity and half its buffer leaves the 250-gigabyte 'Cuda a relatively poor performer. Though it offers environmental and gaming performance on par with the SpinPoint, Seagate's drive does not match Samsung's strong productivity scores. The Barracuda's server scores, on the other hand, lead the pack. No discussion of the 7200.9 is complete without mentioning that Seagate remains the only manufacturer to back its SATA drives with the same robust 5-year warranty that protects its SCSI line. While we do not necessarily believe that a longer warranty automatically translates into a more reliable product, it is clear that many readers do- if you are looking for peace of mind, get a Barracuda.

Western Digital Caviar WD2500KS: The WD2500KS is built on an older platform, evidenced most clearly by its less dense, 83-gigabyte platters. It nonetheless offers above-average performance and manages to capture the number one slot in the Office DriveMark as well as our World of Warcraft trace. The drive's idle noise floor is not nearly as loud as objective measurements may suggest. It also offers the coolest overall operation of all drives in the roundup. The Caviar is the only review drive that does not offer NCQ - while this is no drawback in single-user applications, the drive's scores suffer under multi-user patterns.

We would be remiss without noting that, overall, performance differences between all five contenders remain relatively small. These days, 250 gigabyte SATA drives are commodities; all players have honed their offerings down to levels where distinguishing between them on the basis of performance, environmental factors, and price can be quite difficult. Absolute fastest? Hitachi. Least expensive? Maxtor. Quietest? Samsung. None of these factors matter? Choose your favorite brand.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,02 2006 - tech
BFG Tech's GeForce 7800 GS OC AGP - tech
(hx) 02:46 PM EST - Feb,02 2006 - Post a comment
TechReport take a look at BFG Tech's GeForce 7800 GS OC AGP graphics card:
Unlike on the GeForce 7800 GTX, though, the G70 graphics processor on the 7800 GS isn't operating at full capacity. In its wisdom, NVIDIA has seen fit to disable vast portions of that big GPU you see pictured above. They've chopped down the G70's 24 pixel shaders by two "quads," so that 16 pixel shaders remain. Two of the GPU's eight vertex shaders have been lobotomized, leaving a total of six. And they've nixed half of the ROPs responsible for pixel output, so that the 7800 GS has only eight.

Turns out the GeForce 7800 GS OC isn't unequivocally the fastest AGP card around. It split the difference with the Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition-and by proxy the X850 XT that runs at the same clock speeds-in our tests. The 7800 GS is probably the better choice overall because of its support for Shader Model 3.0 and 16-bit floating-point blending and filtering. These capabilities will no doubt make the 7800 GS more future-proof, as contradictory as that may sound for an AGP card. The 7800 GS OC also looks to be cheaper than the Radeon X850 XT, if street prices work out as NVIDIA has suggested they will. That pretty much makes the 7800 GS king of the AGP upgrade market-but if you cast off your Radeon X850 XT in favor of one of these, you need your head examined. The X850 XT may lack a few bullet-point features, but it's clearly the same class of graphics card.

The value comparison between the 7800 GS and some of NVIDIA's own current offerings is less flattering. At about $200, the GeForce 6800 GS boasts the same basic feature set as the 7800 GS without that much of a performance penalty. I'm not sure I'd pony up the extra $100-150 for a 7800 GS unless I were really serious about hanging on to my AGP system for quite a bit longer. And hanging on to that system starts to look foolhardy when you consider the PCI Express-based graphics options, such as the GeForce 7800 GT, a superior performer than the 7800 GS that's selling for about $300 at various online shops. That's the low end of the projected price range for the 7800 GS. The grass is indeed greener in PCI Express pastures. NVIDIA says it has no plans to produce a GeForce 7800 GS for PCI Express, and we can see the logic if the pricing looks like this.

Another review can be found on Bit-Tech:
We didn't have much success overclocking our sample, but we're sure that others will fare better with retail products. It's also impossible to say that BFG Tech's GeForce 7800 GS OC is a generally poor overclocker based on the results from one card. It's quite possible that you would be able to reach the heights of 490/1400MHz with one of BFG Tech's 7800 GS OC video cards, so you have to ask yourself whether you're prepared to pay an extra £60 for an 18% core speed improvement.
Power Consumption of Modern Graphics Cards - tech
(hx) 08:27 AM EST - Feb,02 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
X-bit labs take a closer look at the power consumption of modern graphics cards:
Quite naturally, the Radeon X1800 XT 512MB consumes a lot more power than the rest of the graphics cards used here in both idle and high-performance modes. In fact, its power consumption is close to that of premium solutions, but so is its speed in games. Nvidia's GeForce 7800 GTX consumes more power than the rest two boards, but outperforms both significantly too. The Radeon X1800 XL and the GeForce 7800 GT consume approximately similar amount of energy and their performance is also close to each other, as we know from widespread benchmark results.

The Radeon X1800 XT 512MB is not only the most power hungry high-end class product among tested today, but also the biggest and the heaviest one. It is longer than the GeForce 7800 GTX and uses dual-slot cooling system. On the other hand, it outperforms the 7800 GTX and also sports two dual-link DVI outputs unlike the rival. While the Radeon X1800 XL does not produce much noise, it is much longer than the reference GeForce 7800 GT, which may prevent it from installation into certain computer cases. On the other hand, it also sports dual-link DVI and can control its fan speed, whereas the GeForce 7800 GT sports neither of these two capabilities.

It is interesting to note that on the most-recent Catalyst 6.1 driver power consumption of the Radeon X1800 XT and X1800 XL was down compared to measurements conducted on the Catalyst 5.9 driver with Radeon X1000 support. We do not know the reason for that.
GeForce 7800 GS VS. Radeon X850 XT (AGP) - tech
(hx) 05:38 AM EST - Feb,02 2006 - Post a comment
CKTurn128 got his hands on a 7800GS for AGP and he compared it to his X850XT AGP card in a series of benchmarks, including 3dMark, Doom, FarCry, Fear, Half Life 2 and others. Here's a taster:
From these benchmarks, the GeForce 7800 GS at stock speeds performs close to a Radeon X850 XT, usually being slightly faster in some tests, and slightly slower in others. It is only when the 7800 GS is overclocked where the performance is a bit better than the X850 XT. I am still hoping that a future revision of RivaTuner or some other pipe unlocking utility will be able to unlock the disabled pipes on a 7800 GS AGP, but I am somewhat wary of that being possible, considering that there have been no successful reports of unlocking pipes on a 7800 GT, so the same may hold true for a 7800 GS.
 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,01 2006 - tech
Wednesday Tech Madness - Nero 6.6.1.14 - tech
(hx) 08:57 AM EST - Feb,01 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)

SECURITY...

  • Microsoft Security Advisory (904420) MyWife- Microsoft wants to make customers aware of the Mywife mass mailing malware variant named Win32/Mywife.E@mm. The mass mailing malware tries to entice users through social engineering efforts into opening an attached file in an e-mail message. If the recipient opens the file, the malware sends itself to all the contacts that are contained in the system's address book. The malware may also spread over writeable network shares on systems that have blank administrator passwords.
  • Nyxem Countdown Begins - Anti-virus companies are advising that everyone scan their machines before February 3, when the destructive virus known as Nyxem will delete a multitude of filetypes. The virus has picked up a few names along the way, and is also known as: Blackmal, MyWife, Kama Sutra, Grew and CME-24. Spread by email attachments promising pornographic material, the virus will wait till the 3rd of each month to wreak its havoc. Once a machine is infected the virus searches email address books for targets, and even other PCs on the local area network. Files will be deleted if they are of the following types: DMP, DOC, XLS, MDB, MDE, PDF, PPS, PPT, PSD, RAR and ZIP.
  • Hackers Lurk in AMD's Web Site - Customer support discussion forums on the forums.amd.com site have been compromised and are being used in an attempt to infect visitors with malicious software, an AMD spokesperson confirmed Monday. According to F-Secure's Hypponen, attackers are exploiting a widely reported flaw in the way the Windows operating system renders images that use the WMF (Windows Metafile) graphics format. This flaw was patched on January 5.
  • Serious security hole patched in Winamp version 5.13 - Secunia has posted that a nasty, buffer overflow type exploit, was discovered in recent versions of Winamp 5. It is highly recommended that if you are using this software, to head on over to FileForum and snag the update 5.13, which states: Fixed [in_mp3] extremely critical security vulnerability.
  • Microsoft Readies Second Anti-Spyware Beta - Windows Defender Beta 2 will add support for Outlook, a new interface, and automated updates to the spyware definitions and scanning engine. Where Beta 1 has been available only for Windows XP, Beta 2 will run on other Windows versions.
  • Microsoft's OneCare offers malware loophole - The firewall in Microsoft's forthcoming OneCare security suite fails to stop two potentially harmful data streams, security expert Roger Grimes has alleged.

CRIME/LAW...

  • Software file sharers next to be sued in the UK - Ten internet service providers have been ordered to hand over the details of 150 UK customers accused of illegally sharing software.  The High Court order follows a 12-month covert investigation by the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast). Among the internet providers are BT, NTL, Telewest and Tiscali. Over the next two weeks, they are expected to provide the names, addresses and other personal details of the alleged file-sharers.
  • France: Warner music ordered to pay fine for DRM use - Just before the French Parliament begins the new examination of the P2P French Bill on February 8th, proponents of the "Private Copying Exception" have achieved a new victory : on January 10th, Paris District Court ruled against the presence of DRM mechanisms on Warner Music's "Testify" CD from Phil Collins. Warner Music will have to pay 59,50 euros in remedies for the plaintiff's damages, and 5000 euros as a punitive fine.
  • AT&T sued over NSA spy program - The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco's federal district court, charges that AT&T has opened its telecommunications facilities up to the NSA and continues to "to assist the government in its secret surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans."
  • Politicians deface Wikipedia - However, Wikipedia editors have compiled a list of more than 1,000 edits made by Internet addresses allocated to the US Senate and House of Representatives. Apparently they are so childish that Wikipedia has blocked the US Senate and House of Representatives IP addresses.

OFF-TOPIC

  • Google stumbles with first earnings miss - The company posted fourth-quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates, although revenue, at $1.29 billion, rose from the same period a year ago and was in line with expectations. In after-hours trade on Tuesday, however, the stock fell as much as 19 percent, a loss of more than $24 billion in market value, before easing later in the day. The stock was trading at $381.50, down nearly 12 percent, at 5:38 p.m. PST.
  • Thirsty People Feel More Pain - Being thirsty makes you more sensitive to pain, according to a recent study.
  • Tax man uses special computer for Bill Gates - Bill Gates has revealed that the US taxman cannot process his tax return on its standard computers.
    Speaking to a Microsoft conference in Lisbon, Bill said that his fortune was too large and pendulous for the tax office computers. Apparently they just run screaming when they see his bulky dossiers.

TECHNOLOGY...

  • Sony Takes Aim at Xbox Live - Sony is apparently readying a strong online service that will meet or exceed the features of Xbox Live.
  • OSx86 10.4.4 leaked - As usual, the recovery disc is being seeded via torrent on a major bit torrent site. The following oh-so-brief note accompanies the .dmg file: This is the Mac OS X 10.4.4 Restore Disc included with all the Intel iMacs. It's unpatched so don't bother trying to install it. No word yet as to the integrity of this file, nor is it known the method with which Apple will keep hackers from breaking their hardware restrictions
  • Borland Delphi 2006 preview - Delphi 2006 is not only a bug-fixed version of the previous release, but adds in C++Builder, a Win32 development tool that marries the C++ language to Delphi's Visual Component Library. I won't dive into the sad story of C++Builder X, but enough to say that C++Builder is back; to the delight of C++Builder developers, who finally have an update they can use. For more information visit Borland product page
  • EU Had Warned Microsoft that Source Code Release Wouldn't Be Enough  - The "Wall Street Journal" has obtained a confidential document sent from European Union (EU) antitrust regulators to Microsoft last month, warning the software giant that a release of its Windows source code would not meet the EU's requirements. In related news, the European Union's antitrust chief says Microsoft cannot charge licensing fees for software blueprints that it is offering to share with competitors unless it can prove the computer code is innovative.
  • Warner Bros. Debuts P2P Service - Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has announced the formation of a joint venture with arvato mobile, In2Movies - a new digital download platform for the electronic sell-through of motion picture and television.
  • Hard cell by Gates? Computer phone - Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates believes cell phones are a better way than laptops to bring computing to the masses in developing nations, according to a published report. The New York Times reports that Craig Mundie, the No. 1 software provider's vice president and chief technology officer, told the paper that both he and Gates believe that turning a specially configured cell phone into a computer by connecting it to a TV and a keyboard is the best way to spread the power of computing..
  • GeForce 7600 Series Slated For March Launch - VR-Zone reports that GeForce 7600 GT is 12 pipes and is now at A2 revision. There is another version called the GeForce 7600 GS which is probably 8 pipes similar to the mobile offering. GeForce Go 7600 runs at 450MHz core and 1GHz for memory so we can expect higher clocks for the desktop series. GeForce 7600 GT and GS will be launched a few days after CeBIT so we can expect Mid March timeframe.
  • North Dakota Explores Balloon Wireless - North Dakota, former Governor Ed Schafer is backing a plan to loft wireless network repeaters on balloons high above the state to fill gaps in cellular coverage
  • Peugeot Citroen to sell diesel hybrids in 2010 - French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen on Tuesday unveiled two demonstration vehicles powered by diesel-hybrid engines and said it wanted to sell tens of thousands of them annually from 2010. The two demonstration cars - a Peugeot 307 and Citroen C4 -- are in the highly competitive compact car segment and their fuel consumption is cut to 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres (69.2 miles per gallon). For the moment, however, the cars are too expensive.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • All Xeon Models - A series of quick reference tables containing the main specs of all Xeon processors released to date, including Pentium II Xeon, Pentium III Xeon, Xeon, Xeon MP and dual-core Xeon.
  • How To Build A 1-Terabyte Desktop PC - Interesting article over at InformationWeek on how to build yourself a terabyte PC.
  • Super Bowl XL HDTV Buyers Guide - Check out this HDTV Buyer's Guide to find out exactly what you need to do to get your hands on the coolest (and possibly most expensive) TV you may ever purchase. The good news is that they're now more affordable than ever.
  • Influence of CPU speed on various benchmarks - check it out (in German)
  • Setting up a Backup Server - This article will show you how to setup a backup server using samba client and rsync, and explain the importants of backing up not only your important files, but ALL your data.
  • Video Compression Basics - Learn the basics about video compression: what delta frames and key frames are.

SOFTWARE...

  • Microsoft IE7 Beta 2 Public Preview - download
  • Total Commander 6.54 Beta 4 - Total Commander is a file manager for Windows, a program like Windows Explorer to copy, move or delete files. Total Commander 6.54 Beta 4 is available now and fixes all previous bugs.
  • Norton Removal Tool Updated - This tool now removing the following programs:Norton AntiVirus 2004/2005/2006, Norton AntiVirus Professional 2004, Norton AntiVirus 3, 5 and 10 User Pack 2004/2005/2006, etc, etc...download SymNRT.exe here, you will probably need to download and apply this registry patch: SYMMSICLEANUP.reg and this MSI cleanup batch file: MSIFIX.bat.
  • SeaMonkey 1.0 - SeaMonkey v1.0 (download) has been released. Mozilla.org's open source internet suite features a state-of-the-art web browser and powerful email client, as well as a WYSIWYG web page composer and a feature-rich IRC chat client.
  • Stella v2.1 - Stella  (changelog / downlad) is a multi-platform Atari 2600 VCS emulator released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
  • Nokia releases Python S60 source code - Nokia released the source code for its Python for S60 Platform software package to the global community of open source software developers.
  • Sony PSP Homebrew Loader Now on All Firmware Versions! - Sony PSP Homebrew 'celebrity' Fanjita and his partner Ditlew released now eLoader Beta for GTA that works on all Sony PSP Firmware versions (2.01, 2.50 and 2.60).  To run homebrew code you only need Grand Theft Auto and the eLoader Beta for GTA
  • Picasa 2.2.0 Build 28.08 - Picasa (download) is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize.
  • AIM Ad Hack 5.0 Beta 18 for AOL Triton IM Beta - With this small file (download) you can effectively remove all the ads from AIM
    you must be using
  • DivX Browser Plug-In Beta 4 - The DivX Browser Plug-In lets you embed high quality DivX video in your web pages without using special streaming servers or installing any server-side software.
  • ConvertXtoDVD v2.0 - VSO ConvertXtoDVD (dowload trial) allows you to convert and then burn your video files that were originally only playable on your PC so that they are now playable on any DVD Player. ConvertXtoDVD handles your everyday digital multimedia life, extending support beyond AVI files, XVid, MPEG 1/2/4, VOB, MOV, and now WMV 3 and HD formats and more. This new version adds support for subtitles ( .SRT or .SUB/IDX).
  • CloneDVD Mobile - Slysoft has launched a new product called CloneDVD mobile which allows you to convert DVD movies to a format used on your mobile entertainement devices such the Sony PSP, Apple iPod Video, iAudio X5, Creative Labs ZEN Vision, etc. etc. With the software you can also convert your DVDs to other file formats, such as DivX, XviD, AVI, MP4, etc.
  • Winamp 5.130 - Nullsoft Winamp is a fast, flexible, high-fidelity media player for Windows. This new verison fixes [in_mp3] extremely critical security vulnerability.
  • VisualRoute 2006 10.0g - VisualRoute (download) delivers the functionality of key Internet "ping," "whois," and "traceroute" tools, in a high-speed visually integrated package
  • Jet-Audio 6.25 - Jet-Audio (download) features an impressive home audio system interface, including independent A/V components for Digital Signal Processor, Audio CD Player, Digital Audio (MP3, RA, etc.), MIDI (MID, MOD etc.), and Digital Video (AVI, MPG, MOV, etc.), along with a Mixer and a Remote Controller.
  • Nero 6.6.1.14 - download / changelog
  • nLite 1.0 RC6 - nLite is a GUI for permanent Windows component removal by your choice. After removal there is an option to make bootable image ready for burning on cd or testing in virtual machines.
  • ForceWare 83.40 Win2000/XP - These drivers where released by videocard manufacturer Sparkle. The drivers have been WHQL tagged, which means that Microsoft took a peek at them and labeled them to be "ok".
Video Shootout: ATI vs. Nvidia - tech
(hx) 07:12 AM EST - Feb,01 2006 - Post a comment / read (6)
ExtremeTech take a look at the quality and performance of video with the latest generation of Nvidia and ATI cards. They look at CPU utilization with a variety of source material and describe some of their subjective and objective quality observations:
Clearly, ATI offers better video support in their latest graphics cards than Nvidia does. They dominate the HQV benchmark tests, offer much lower CPU utilization for DVD playback, and offer solutions for acceleration H.264 and DivX (though one requires a specific codec and the other a specific player). In really tough video scenarios, like those with odd cadence patterns or noisy DVDs, ATI delivers better quality. Their de-interlacing algorithms seem just a little bit better, too.

This is the rub: Most users will never run into those situations. The vast majority of users only ever encounter reasonably well-made DVDs that only require 3:2 pulldown or none at all, and have no interlaced images. Odds are, most computer users will only very rarely run into a situation where the visual quality between ATI and Nvidia's latest graphics cards is different enough to notice, and that's if you stick your nose up to the screen and start to scrutinize the video very closely. Users that have TV tuners in their PC will certainly appreciate the good de-interlacing and noise reduction in the Radeon X1000 series of cards.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,31 2006 - tech
Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview - tech
(hx`) 01:28 PM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment
Just now Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview (local US mirror ~ 11.7MB) for Windows XP SP2 to the web. Dubbed "Public Preview" the release includes tabbed browsing, page zoom, tab groups, RSS support and improved printing support.  This release is Beta 2 Preview and so not Beta 2, which should be released about the same time as Vista Beta 2 is released somewhere in April. Microsoft is expected to deliver the final version of Internet Explorer 7 at the end of the year alongside Windows Vista.
Warning: Evaluation of Internet Explorer 7 should start now, but the software should not be used on production systems in mission-critical environments. Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview will only run on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) systems, but will ultimately be available for Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003.
ATI's All-In-Wonder X1900 - tech
(hx) 06:38 AM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
The AIW X1900 puts in a strong showing here, edging out the 7800 GTX
TechReport take an in-depth look at ATI's All-In-Wonder X1900. This card is based on the Radeon X1900 GPU, but it runs at different clock speeds (500MHz for the GPU and 480MHz /or 960MHz DDR/) than the familiar Radeon X1900 models XT and XTX, so its performance will be quite a bit different:
The value proposition for the All-In-Wonder X1900 is quite good, all things considered. The card's performance in 3D graphics matches up well against NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX, and the GTX is currently selling at online retailers for about $489. At $499 list, the AIW X1900 looks like a steal by comparison. The only reason I can think to buy the GTX instead is if you hope to upgrade in the future to a multi-GPU config; the GTX can do SLI, but the AIW X1900 can't participate in the ATI's CrossFire scheme. Beyond that, all of signs point to the All-In-Wonder X1900 as the smarter choice. Not only can the AIW pump out fluid 3D graphics and gaming at high resolutions for that price, but it also packs a TV tuner, all manner of video input and display options, a programmable RF remote control, and software to tie it all together. These extras and the video card would almost certainly cost more if they were purchased separately (although that's a very theoretical argument until ATI delivers a less expensive version of the Radeon X1900.)

The AIW 1900 also moves the overall AIW concept ahead with the addition of ATI's latest GPU, the incorporation of the Remote Wonder Plus with its superior button layout and Windows Media Center mappings, and the inclusion of Adobe's Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements. All of these things represent progress for a product line that's totally unique and has very little competition from NVIDIA or anyone else.

Yet I can't escape the impression that the AIW X1900 isn't all that it could-and should-be. ATI's Multimedia Center is dreadful compared to Windows MCE or even Snapstream's Beyond TV. The EazyLook interface desperately needs more work, especially more integration with the program guide, before any AIW product can bill itself as truly suitable for the living room. Even then, the AIW X1900 probably shouldn't be pitched as an HTPC-type solution. With current games, this big, hot GPU is overkill for any common TV resolution except maybe 1080p, and its cooler makes too much noise for the living room. We might be willing to overlook those things if the AIW X1900 had hardware-assisted MPEG2 encoding, but it doesn't. Add in the bugs we found in the Remote Wonder software and the Media Center encoder, and the AIW X1900 just doesn't make sense outside of a more traditional desktop PC.
Nikon CoolPix P1 Wi-Fi Compact Camera - tech
(hx) 06:14 AM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment
Trusted Reviews take a look at Nikon CoolPix P1 Wi-Fi Compact Camera, the first digital compact camera that features wireless LAN, (Wi-Fi) connectivity straight out of the box. It is designed to connect to any computer, printer or other device equipped with a wireless network adapter, enabling you to download or print your pictures without having to either remove the memory card or plug in any cables.
Of course the wireless ability is just icing on a very tasty cake; even without it the P1 would be a superb camera by any standard. The weather this past week hasn't been exactly conducive to high-quality photography, with grey overcast clouds and lots of rain, but the P1 has still managed to produce some outstanding shots, with bright rich colours, plenty of fine detail from that big 8.0 megapixel sensor. The exposure metering is absolutely perfect, capturing the subtleties of the light early on a frosty morning better than many semi-pro cameras that I've tried. A close-range wide-angle shot revealed some barrel distortion at the shortest end of the zoom range, but just stepping back a few feet and zooming in slightly eliminated this effect. Noise control at 50 and 100 ISO is superb, with clean images at both lower speeds. There was some problem with noise at 200 and 400 ISO, but it wasn't too bad.

Even without the wireless technology, the P1 would be an outstandingly good camera, although it does make it a little expensive compared to other cameras at this end of the market, such as the Olympus mju 800 or the Canon IXUS 55. The wireless connectivity is certainly more than a novelty, and it can match anything else in its class for picture quality.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,30 2006 - tech
Logitech Bluetooth MX5000 Laser Desktop - tech
(hx) 03:47 PM EST - Jan,30 2006 - Post a comment
ByteSector takes a look at Logitech Bluetooth MX5000 Laser Desktop suit powered by Bluetooth wireless technology. Here's a slice:
Logitech has put together an exceptional package with the MX5000 Laser Desktop. Using Bluetooth 2.0, Logitech has united their classic MX1000 Laser mouse with a brand new MX5000 keyboard sporting a touch sensitive panel and a dot matrix display. The MX1000 comes with a built-in battery pack and a charging station with a small footprint. The use of Bluetooth in this package also allows other Bluetooth devices to connect to your computer through the included Bluetooth receiver. I was thoroughly impressed by Logitech's unique approach to designing the MX5000 keyboard and found it to be above and beyond the competition in every regard.

The MX5000 Laser Desktop has an MSRP of $230 CAD (approximately $200 USD) but can be found for as little as $150 CAD (approximately $130 USD). This is definitely something that is worth the investment if you're looking for comfort, functionality and the latest cool gadgets in one complete package.
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