Archive for April, 2012

Nokia LumiaIt remains to be seen if Windows Phone 7 can bring Nokia back from the dead, though if you ask Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, Microsoft may have somehow managed to bring back Steve Jobs instead. We are assuming he’s joking, but those are still pretty strong praise of a once former rival. Based on the context, it sounds of it he was referring to how well Microsoft nailed the UI experience, which most people credit as the platforms strongest selling point. In a recent interview with The Verge, Woz declared that Windows Phone is like being “with a friend, not a tool”. 

When asked about his opinion of Android when compared to Windows Phone 7 he was quite clear. He claims there is “no contest” when it comes to the UI experience. Words such as “awkward” and “ugly” were tossed around. As an early engineer of Apple hardware Wozniak has far more in common with today’s geek than your average Apple enthusiast, though its still surprising to hear him side with Microsoft. 

He later followed up with A New Domain site to put his strong praise in context.

“iPhone is my favorite phone. I did give my opinion that the Windows 7P phone had superior visual appearance and operation cues that were also more attractive. In my opinion, it sets the mark for user interface,” he said. “I would recommend it (WP) over my Android phones…. I surmise that Microsoft hired someone from Apple and put money into having a role in the UI and appearance of some key apps.” “I also surmised that Steve Jobs might have been reincarnated at MS due to a lot of what I see and feel with this phone making me think of a lot of great Apple things.”

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R6300802.11n spent years tied up in draft status with the IEEE, and as a result it feels like it’s been around forever. By comparison it feels like 802.11ac, the standard being released to replace it, is moving at an amazing pace. In fact, Netgear is preparing to claim bragging rights on being the first 802.11ac compatible commercial router available for sale. Announced on Thursday, the R6300 will start shipping in May, and is capable of speeds up to 1.3Gbps on the 5 GHz band, assuming of course you have a compatible 802.11ac device on the receiving end.

Based on the theoretical max speeds listed above, that could mean speeds up to twice as fast as 802.11n under similar conditions. It will be interesting to see if 802.11ac is able to maintain the same type of range as 2.4GHz 802.11N networks. 2.4GHz is much better at penetrating walls and travelling over large distances, but given its popularity is also prone to excessive interference. 

The other drawback to the R6300 will be in how it deals with legacy hardware. To use 802.11ac, all your devices must be using that standard, or it will drop back down to the lowest common denominator for everything using that wireless network. We are hoping the default behavior of the dual band feature is to limit the 5GHz band to 802.11ac, and banish everything else to 2.4GHz. Hopefully its possible to add 802.11n to the 5GHz band as well using the firmware, however a fairly large percentage of 802.11n devices are stuck at 2.4GHz. The Kindle Fire comes to mind.

The R6300 will be sold for around $200 through Netgear retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Fry’s. If we didn’t scare you off based on the limitations listed above, you won’t have to wait too much longer to future proof your wireless network.

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Core i7

Ivy Bridge officially launched on Monday, though if you were holding off to build a system you might have noticed “launched” didn’t actually mean you could buy it. We were starting to wonder what the hold up was, than lo and behold we finally got word stock has started pouring into the retail channels. 

A quick look over at shows seven models up for sale. Here is a brief list of what we found, along with the US prices.

Core i7-3770K (3.50 GHz, Overclockable) for $349.99

Core i7-3770S (3.10 GHz) for $319.99

Core i7-3770 (3.40 GHz, locked) for $319.99

Core i5-3570K (3.40 GHz, Unlocked) for $249.99

Core i5-3550 (3.40 GHz) for $219.99

Core i5-3450 (3.10 GHz) for $199.99

Core i5-3450S (2.80 GHz) for $199.99.

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GTX 690

Nvidia warned us it was coming, but until very late last night we had no idea what they were talking about, or if we should even be excited. Would they announce lower end Kepler parts to fill out the midrange? Would they announce you could finally “buy” a GTX 680? Expectations were high when Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun took the stage for his keynote in Shanghai China, and my friends, meet the all new dual-GPU $999 GTX 690.

The GTX  690 has yet to hit the benchmarks, but considering that under that fancy plated aluminum heat sync is a pair of GTX 680’s, we are going to go ahead and say what you’re looking at here is probably the fastest card money can buy. In total, the GTX 690 has 3,072 CUDA cores, running at a 915MHz base clock, with a 1019MHz boost clock. Both of those numbers are slightly lower than those found on a standard GTX 680, but not by much, and its certainly understandable considering how much heat your generating in such a small area. The memory clock sits at 6Ghz, and each GPU has access to a dedicated 2GB block of GDDR5 RAM totaling 4GB of frame buffer.

The design of the card itself is also pretty amazing. Aside from the plated aluminum on the outside, it is also fitted with polycarbonate windows on the front to give it a very unique look. The card runs on a 10-phase power supply, and each GTX 680 core will have its own water-vapor chamber as you can see from the shots below.

Nvidia promises limited availability of the GTX 690 by May 3rd, with add-in board partners joining the party on May 7th. If you have $999 burning a hole in your wallet, and you need bleeding edge performance, its safe to say the GTX 690 will be the card to beat for the foreseeable future. 

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Whatever Nvidia plans on announcing at the GeForce LAN/NVIDIA Gaming Festival in Shanghai tomorrow, it’s going to be hard-pressed to live up to the hype leading up to its unveiling. The PC gaming community has been a-flutter since the first ominous “IT’S COMING” message hit Nvidia’s Facebook page over a week ago. Nvidia’s just sent a kick-ass custom crowbar and some cryptic confirmations to the Maximum PC offices in anticipation of tomorrow’s big news.

Just what the heck is it supposed to signify? We have no friggin’ idea. The mixture of zombies, crowbars and Nvidia is definitely intriguing, though. Gordon managed to pry some additional information out of Nvidia representatives, and no, he didn’t need to ironically threaten them with their own crowbar to do it.

Here are some key characteristics of the Big Secret that Nvidia would own up to:

  • It is bigger than a bread box.
  • It is a mineral.
  • It is NOT a vegetable
  • Gordon assumes it’s not an animal, either, but all we know what they say about assuming things.

In any case, Nvidia plans on making the official announcement and sending us an update sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 P.M. PST tomorrow night. Stay tuned for details.

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