Maximum PC - Editor Blogs en Survey Says: Desktops En Vogue Again <!--paging_filter--><h3>Satisfaction growing for desktop PCs among mainstream Americans</h3> <p>For enthusiasts, this won’t be news but after feasting on the empty calories of tablets and phones for years, mainstream consumers may finally have had enough and may be looking for something with a little more substance in their tech diets: the old-fashioned desktop PC.</p> <p>At least that’s part of the conclusion of a new survey released today that gauges American “satisfaction” which says consumers may be turning to desktop PCs again.</p> <p>Desktops, in fact, now actually satisfy more Americans more than tablets and laptops, survey data shows. The annual survey was conducted by the <a href="">American Customer Satisfaction Index</a> out of Ann Arbor, Mich. And attempts to quantify overall satisfaction with consumer purchases of goods and services.</p> <p>“Contrary to most predictions, the PC may be on the verge of making a bit of a comeback: sales of desktops are no longer falling after years of significant decline. On the other hand, tablet sales growth appears to have slowed. As the early enthusiasm with tablets wears off, customer satisfaction dips (-1% to 80) and now trails slightly behind desktops (+3% to 81), although both lead laptops (-4% to 76) by a wide margin,” the report says.</p> <p>Consumption of tablets and smartphones have been off the charts for years which had analysts and the media predicting the death of the PC. Apparently that ain’t so.</p> <p><img src="/files/u2674/9-22-2014_4-56-40_pm.jpg" alt="Personal Computers ACSI" title="Personal Computers ACSI" width="620" height="361" /></p> <p>“(Consumers have) got their mobile devices now,” said, David Van Amburg, managing director of the ACSI, “Maybe we need to go back and replace this PC which is three, four or five years old.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Van Amburg told Maximum PC the survey data indicates consumers are likely becoming jaded with the tablet and phone upgrades and have begun to buy desktop PCs again. Van Amburg said the last time they bought their PCs they may have been beige boxes but their new desktop PC purchases reflect the changes the PC has gone through in design, style, and performance. &nbsp;</p> <p>“According to customers, PC makers do a good job of creating reliable products that don’t often crash and have good processor speeds (both 82 percent). Devices are easy to use (81 percent) with attractive features such as preloaded software or apps, memory, and data storage (80 percent),” the survey said.</p> <p>Big PC makers shouldn’t take too much solace in the survey numbers though. The survey shows that from 2013 to 2014, Dell suffered a 4 percent drop in “satisfaction” with its products at 76 percent in the latest survey. HP took a bit hit going from 80 percent satisfaction to 74 percent. Toshiba, &nbsp;which recently <a href="">threw in the towel</a> on consumer PCs, also took a hit going from 78 percent to 75 percent. Even Apple lost ground going from an impressive 87 percent in 2013 to 84 percent. These numbers, however, reflect PCs, laptops and tablets bunched together. That, Van Amburg, says may explain Apple’s drop in satisfaction. Rather than Mac users being less satisfied, he said it’s likely the iPad and iPhone users who are dragging the scores down. That implies that even Apple fans are turning back to servicing the desktop as well. The satisfaction survey data is good news for smaller vendors such as Samsung, Asus and Lenovo. In its “all others” category, the ACSI survey said consumer satisfaction grew by 8 percent. It’s not known if even smaller more customized PC builders helped move the needle or not.</p> <p><img src="/files/u2674/9-22-2014_4-57-07_pm.jpg" alt="PC Satisfaction" title="PC Satisfaction" width="620" height="369" /></p> <p>As an industry, Van Amburg said overall, the personal computers (including tablets and laptops) rank as only medicore in satisfaction as they should be benchmarked against durable goods items. Televisions and video players, for example, get an 86 percent compared to the 78 percent for computers, laptops and tablets. On the bottom of the ACSI’s list are: Internet Service Providers, subscription television, airlines, social media, and cell phone companies and the US Postal service. Credit unions and soft drinks rank far higher.</p> <p>For the personal computer category, the ASCI scientifically selected 3,000 consumers through phone and email during April, May and June.</p> <p><img src="/files/u2674/9-22-2014_4-57-31_pm.jpg" alt="Satisfaction by Industry" title="Satisfaction by Industry" width="620" height="892" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Desktop maximum pc popular survey News Editor Blogs Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:01:34 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 28587 at Can You Survive on a Chromebook Alone? <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u154280/c720_0.png" width="300" height="225" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>We use nothing but Google's lightweight OS for a week</h3> <p>When Google announced <a title="chrome os" href="" target="_blank">Chrome OS</a>, many people scoffed at the viability of a browser-based OS. Currently, however, <strong><a title="chromebook" href="" target="_blank">Chromebooks</a></strong> are among the most popular inexpensive computing devices today. The search giant has done a great job of making an OS that is light enough to function on entry-level Atom-based SOCs and even low-powered ARM silicon. With the launch of many new Chromebooks (click hear to find out which one we think is the&nbsp;<a style="font-weight: bold;" title="Best Chromebook" href="" target="_blank">best chromebook</a>)&nbsp;we wanted to see if a person could survive with a Chromebook playing games, videos, word processing and more for an entire week. Read on to see how the OS fared against Windows in our seven-day challenge.</p> <p><strong>Methodology</strong></p> <p>The premise of our test was simple, use nothing but a Chromebook for seven days straight. We weren’t allowed to touch a PC during that period, so we left our Windows rig sitting around collecting dust. Below you will find different sections about our experiences with our Chromebook. In addition, we fill you in on whether a person can use one as their primary computer.</p> <p>We should mention the only other Internet capable device we were allowed to use during our testing period was a smartphone. We did, after all, have to make the occasional phone call/text every now and then.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/c720.png" alt="Acer C720" title="Acer C720" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Acer C720 Chromebook</strong></p> <p><strong>The Hardware:</strong></p> <p>We grabbed <strong>Acer’s C720</strong>, as it’s arguably the best Chromebook for the money, providing us with a dual-core Intel Haswell processor, 16GB SSD, and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. We thought about using <a title="google pixel" href="" target="_blank">Google’s Pixel</a>, but it’s super expensive at $1,300. The C720 comes very close to the Pixel in performance, and its way cheaper at $250. Not to mention its 0.7lbs lighter than the Pixel as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/chrome_os_desktop.png" alt="Chrome OS" title="Chrome OS" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Chrome OS' desktop interface</strong></p> <p><strong>Performance:</strong></p> <p>Using a Chromebook we found some distinct performance advantages and disadvantages. First off, Chrome OS is insanely fast at booting up, taking about 2 seconds to get to the desktop, and we saw the device get us to the Internet in just seconds. In case you've been living under a rock and don't know how Chrome OS operates, it is an operating system that is tied to the cloud. This means that in order to properly take advantage of its features, you must be connected online.&nbsp;</p> <p>The battery life was excellent on the C720, as we got around eight and a half hours run time while producing documents and surfing the web. The C720 was highly portable since it weighs just 2.7 pounds and has a thin profile of 0.7 inches. We also liked its small sleek form factor, as it easily fit into our bag. With its small size also comes a small keyboard, however, and we found ourselves missing our full-size keyboard with its 10-key number pad. We did like the C720’s multi-touch track pad, as the multi-touch gestures were very responsive, but it’s a bit too small for large fingers. These hardware peripherals will vary from Chromebook to Chromebook, however, so the aforementioned statements are not relevant to all Chromebooks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/capture1.png" width="600" height="315" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A familiar face</strong></p> <p><strong>Browsing the Internet:</strong></p> <p>Our Chromebook browsed the web quickly and efficiently. It handled multiple tabs very well and we didn’t see any slowdown in performance when we had 10 or more tabs open. We did, however, run into an issue with Newegg as some of its links didn’t work properly on our Chromebook. We tried looking at customer reviews on the e-tailer’s website and couldn’t get them to load on our Chromebook no matter what we did. We tried shutting down the unit and restarting it, restoring it to factory settings [A.K.A. powerwashing], and disabling our Chrome add-ons and nothing worked. The biggest weakness of Chrome OS is that not everything supports Chrome, so unlike Windows, you can’t just switch browsers if a website isn’t loading properly.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/creating_documents.png" alt="Google Docs" title="Google Docs" width="600" height="337" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Google's Word Processing Application: Google Drive</strong></p> <p><strong>Producing Documents:</strong></p> <p>Google Drive was how we created documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. We liked using the cloud-based suite, but it’s not as fleshed out as Microsoft Office. There’s simply more functionality in Word and PowerPoint, as they offer more customization than Google Docs. We found there to be more transitions in PowerPoint along with more options to customize our slides than on Google Slides. If you just need basic presentations, documents, and spreadsheets, however, Google Drive can do most of what Microsoft’s Office can do for free.&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the biggest advantages Google Drive has over Microsoft Office is its sharing function and we liked how we could easily share our documents with the service. Another strong feature of document sharing in Google Docs is that multiple people can edit the same document at the same time. As noted by one of our readers, Hellabrad, you can also edit and share documents with other Office users with Microsoft's free web client. Finally, Google Docs is constantly and conveniently AutoSaving, which is something the desktop version of Word doesn’t do. By default, the Microsoft Word desktop application AutoSaves every 10 minutes, and this setting can be changed to AutoSave every minute (Hellabrad).&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Click the next page to read about gaming, picture-editing and more with a Chromebook.</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/watching_videos.png" alt="Watching Videos" title="Watching Videos" width="600" height="337" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Streaming Amazon Instant Prime on a Chromebook</strong></p> <p><strong>Watching Videos:</strong></p> <p>Chrome OS has Adobe Flash Player baked right into its browser, so we found there to be no problems with watching movies and TV shows on Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. The picture quality was a clear 720p on our 11-inch display, which didn’t look that bad because the pixel density was fairly high on our relatively small screen.</p> <p><strong>Anti-Virus:</strong></p> <p>There are no third-party AV programs on Chrome OS you can download at the moment. We see this as a problem because we would love to see Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, and other AV developers making Chrome apps to help protect the OS. AV suites may come along if the OS gains further adoption, but for now you’re only protected by Google.</p> <p>The search giant claims that you’ll never get a virus on its Chrome OS, but Apple said the same thing a few years ago with OSX and that didn’t turn out to be the case. As a matter of fact, the past few years Apple users have seen many viruses invade their laptops and all-in-ones like never before. We suspect that ChromeOS won’t be immune to these problems either.</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/photo_editing.png" alt="Pixlr Photo Editor" title="Pixlr Photo Editor" width="600" /></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Editing photos using Pixlr on a Chromebook</strong></p> <p><strong>Editing Photos/Videos:</strong></p> <p>We initially thought that we could use Adobe’s Creative Cloud on our Chromebook, but we were wrong, as Chrome OS does not support the online suite. If you need Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, you’ll need a Windows PC to use these multimedia-editing apps.&nbsp;</p> <p>The built-in photo editor in Chrome OS is very limited, but luckily there’s a free Chrome app called <a title="pixlr" href="" target="_blank">Pixlr</a> that can satisfy your photo editing needs in a pinch. Pixlr gives you a variety of tools including an eraser, smudge tool, selection tool, stamp tool, along with a paint bucket tool and red eye reduction. Pixlr also lets you adjust your image’s size and create layers for those who like to stack effects when editing their photos. It’s not a Photoshop replacement, but at least you can lightly touch up photos.</p> <p>From what we know there’s no way to edit videos on a Chromebook (other than the simple <a title="youtube video editor" href="" target="_blank">Youtube video editor</a>, that is), so again you’ll need a good old X86 PC to this task. If Adobe did start supporting Chromebooks we could see them as cheap multimedia machines, but until that time comes, Chrome OS users are limited to editing photos.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/gaming_cos.png" alt="Gaming in Chrome OS" title="Gaming in Chrome OS" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Playing Bastion on a Chromebook</strong></p> <p><strong>Playing Games:</strong></p> <p>As mentioned before Chrome OS supports Adobe Flash, meaning that Flash games can be played on the OS. <a title="armor games" href="" target="_blank">Armor Games</a>, a website that provides tons of free flash games, ran well, but we did see a few hiccups in our frame rate from time to time after a few minutes.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are a few indie titles that are available on Chrome OS, including Bastion and Flow. Bastion was a performance hog and pushed our tiny Chromebook to its limits, as the unit’s fan was blaring right when we started up the game. Flow on the other hand ran well and didn’t bring our Chromebook to its knees like Bastion did.&nbsp;</p> <p>We did miss Steam and Origin too (only because of BF4, naturally) and we found Chrome OS doesn’t have any compelling flash titles to keep PC gamers satisfied. We find flash games fun 5-10 minute coffee break games, but they don’t quench our hardcore-gaming thirst.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/content_management.png" alt="Content Management" title="Content Management" width="600" /></p> <p><strong>Managing Content:</strong></p> <p>We didn’t like Chrome OS because of the lack of content management it provides. There are no folders for Music, Documents, or Pictures like in Windows. All of your files are automatically put in your download folder, and they are all grouped from most current to least current. We thought it was odd we couldn’t put any of files these files onto our desktop. Not to mention, all this glorious content is stored on a “massive” 16GB SSD. It’s not all bad as you can at least natively zip and unzip files in the OS with right-click, which is a two finger tap in Chrome OS.&nbsp;</p> <p>We thought it was strange that we couldn’t upload our music to Google Music using our Chromebook. Chrome OS doesn’t support this, and that’s just weird because you would think Google would support its own ecosystem. Simply put, there’s a huge lack of content management features and it’s something Google definitely needs to change if it seeks to get more market penetration within the laptop scene.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion:</strong></p> <p>While the Chromebook is very fast and functional, it lacks power-user apps like Photoshop, or triple-A gaming titles. We see the device great for college students looking to get a computing device that they can get 8-9 hours out of while taking notes and browsing the web. Chrome OS can also stream the major video services, as we watched Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, and Netflix with no problems. You’re ultimately getting a document, web browsing, and streaming machine.&nbsp;</p> <p>There have been more hybrid Windows 8.1 devices sporting X86 Intel Atom processors with fast 32GB or 64GB SSDs. These inexpensive Windows machines should challenge Chromebooks in the upcoming months and will make Chrome OS devices harder and harder to sell. We’ve already seen some tablet-laptops that are $350-$400 like the ASUS T100, which gives users Windows 8.1 in a portable form factor with a battery life that is comparable to the C720. We’d personally stick with an X86 Windows PC because it does a lot more than Chrome OS, giving us access to a never-ending abundance of apps and tools that Google’s browser OS just can’t rival at the moment.</p> <p>Follow Chris on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Google</a>+&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a></p> Acer C720 chrome os chromebook cloud Gmail Google google docs google drive Hardware laptop netbook notebook online word processing Editor Blogs Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:45:11 +0000 Chris Zele 27081 at Photo (Video) Awesome #32: Now, With Bonus Gordon Rant! <!--paging_filter--><p>We'll keep this week's Photo Awesome short for the holidays. Earlier in the week, our Editorial Director Jon Phillips posted a video first look of the <a href="">Samsung Galaxy tablet </a>10.1. In it, he showed off the video-taking capibilities of the device, by walking up to Gordon, and asking him to rant right there on the spot.</p><p>And, as it often does with Gordon, hilarity ensued. Check out the footage below, and have yourselves an awesome holiday weekend. See you Tuesday!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><div class="VAMS_prototype" data-vams-id="f03nb3mZrVB2d"></div></p> Editor Blogs Fri, 27 May 2011 21:15:22 +0000 Alan Fackler 18761 at Photo Awesome #29: Gordon Mah Ung Uses an iPad <!--paging_filter--><p>Wait, wait, we know. Don't freak out yet. In order to show off some cool new mobile features integrated into Photoshop, Gordon&nbsp;<em>had</em>&nbsp;to use an iPad during a video shoot. The app wasn't available for Android yet. He was visibly distraught throughout the experience, which we think you can see in this photo.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/screen_shot_2011-04-29_at_3.39.33_pm.png" width="480" height="269" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Gordon was not happy.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>So, for the sake of brevity, (we&nbsp;<em>are</em>&nbsp;in the fourth week of our publication cycle) we've decided to let you guys caption this picture. We'll read through all the captions on Monday, and the five funniest will get Maximum PC coins or t-shirts (up to the winners).&nbsp;</p> <p>Let the captioning begin in the comments below! Make sure and have yourselves a great weekend while you're at it. See you next week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> iPad Editor Blogs Fri, 29 Apr 2011 22:58:20 +0000 Alan Fackler 18368 at Photo Awesome #28: Panoramic View of the Maximum PC Offices and Lab <!--paging_filter--><p>We've always thought Microsoft's Photosynth--which allows users to create and share pseudo-3d photo collections and panoramas--was some cool technology, but a little too much of a hassle to actually use.</p> <p>That all changed when we discovered the new Photosynth app for iOS, which makes it fast and easy to create impressive 360-degree panoramas. To test it out, we used the app around the office and in the lab. Keep reading for the most immersive look yet at Maximum PC HQ, including panoramas of the office, the lab, and what it looks like to be in front of the lights of our video set-up. Pro-tip: use your mouse or directional keys to move around.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" src=";delayLoad=true&amp;slideShowPlaying=false" width="500" height="300"></iframe></p> <p>View of our offices from above&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" src=";delayLoad=true&amp;slideShowPlaying=false" width="500" height="300"></iframe></p> <p>View of our lab&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" src=";delayLoad=true&amp;slideShowPlaying=false" width="500" height="300"></iframe></p> <p>View of our video setup</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Have a great weekend everyone, we'll see you next week!</p> Editor Blogs Fri, 22 Apr 2011 23:17:00 +0000 Alan Fackler 18275 at Photo (Video) Awesome #26: Our Studio is up and Running! <!--paging_filter--><p>We finally got to spend some time in our brand new video studio, where I was given my first opportunity to ever to use a green screen during a shoot, and my 1,156th (don't quote me there) opportunity to make an ass out of &nbsp;myself on camera.&nbsp;</p> <p>All joking aside, dropping an image seamlessly over a green screen was actually a bit harder than we had anticipated, as you'll see in some slight hiccups in the video. But it was a learning experience, and we're excited to find new and fun ways to utilize the studio moving forward. But, for now, here's us acting like idiots in front of a green screen. Enjoy!&nbsp;</p> <p> <div class="VAMS_prototype" data-vams-id="sDnHe982mtuI3"></div> </p> <p>Have yourselves a fantastic weekend everyone, we'll see ya' next week.&nbsp;</p> Editor Blogs Fri, 08 Apr 2011 21:01:27 +0000 Alan Fackler 18057 at Photo Awesome #20: Name That Hardware! <!--paging_filter--><div style="text-align: -webkit-auto;"> <div style="color: #000000; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: #ffffff; margin: 8px;"> <p>As you can no doubt imagine, sifting through products we've received from the past can be a hilarious experience. But every now and again we'll un-earth things that make us go, "wait, what?". So we decided to give you a quick geek quiz to round out your week. Have a look at the following four items, and see if you can tell us what they are, or more importantly, why they're hilarious.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hit up the comments with all your guesses, and stay tuned, 'cause on Tuesday, we'll reveal all the answers for you, as only Gordon Mah Ung could write them. Have a phenomenal weekend guys, we'll see you next week!&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8135.jpg" width="600" height="412" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8137.jpg" width="600" height="346" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8139.jpg" width="600" height="273" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8141.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We had to blur out the manufacturer on this one, otherwise, it'd just be too easy.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: -webkit-auto;"> <div style="color: #000000; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: #ffffff; margin: 8px;"> <p>Hit up the comments with all your guesses, and stay tuned, 'cause on Tuesday, we'll reveal all the answers for you, as only Gordon Mah Ung could write them. Have a phenomonal weekend guys, we'll see you next week!&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> News Editor Blogs Fri, 18 Feb 2011 22:57:43 +0000 Alan Fackler 17280 at Photo Awesome #16: The Max PC Reader Meet Up! <!--paging_filter--><p>This past Tuesday, we decided to have a reader meet up at the Thirsty Bear in downtown SF. Once there, we shared stories, laughs, beer, shrimp, and a whole ton of awesome door prizes with a bunch of our valued readers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Seriously, to those of you who made it out, we sincerely thank you for an awesome time. And those of you that didn't, well, don't fret! This turnout has encouraged all of us here at&nbsp;<em>Maximum PC</em>&nbsp;to do this again, and soon. We'll keep you posted on the next meet, but until then, check out some photos and video from what turned out to be a really memorable evening.</p> <p class="p1">Oh, and sorry about the blurry photos. There was hardly any light in the bar, and our pop flash literally died the moment we powered on the SLR. Just our luck, right?</p> <p class="p1">Enjoy!</p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8006_0.jpg" width="600" height="400" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8012_0.jpg" width="600" height="400" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8014_0.jpg" width="600" height="400" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/img_8020_0.jpg" width="600" height="400" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p class="p1" style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u107541/nathanchicks.jpg" width="600" height="457" style="border: 0px initial initial;" /></p> <p class="p1">And a video of all our prize winners.&nbsp;</p> <p> <div class="VAMS_prototype" data-vams-id="2sedE957tKL8T"></div> </p> MPCTV Photo Awesome Home News Editor Blogs Fri, 21 Jan 2011 00:08:18 +0000 Alan Fackler 16768 at Tri-band Wireless Products on the Horizon <!--paging_filter--><p>Just bought a brand-spankin’ new dual-band router? Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard, Binky; your new toy just might be outclassed as soon as the end of this year by the first generation of tri-band devices with wireless radios operating on the 2.4-, 5.0-, and 60GHz frequencies. These could be the first networking products capable of moving bits around your house at supremely fast speeds and cooking a pizza at the same time. </p> <p>We’re just kidding about the pizza, but wireless routers operating on the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band do promise to deliver data throughput as high as 7Gb/sec. The IEEE Task Group AD (TGad for short; not to be confused with “teabag”) is busy developing a standard—IEEE 802.11ad—but the companies hoping to sell actual products based on this new technology aren’t taking any chances that the famously methodical international standards body might take the same long winding and road they did with 802.11n. They formed a trade group—the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (<a href="">WiGig</a>)— in May 2009, and the alliance announced its own first-draft standard today. </p> <p>“WiGig will be submitting proposals to TGad,” said Mark Grodzinsky, Marketing Work Group Chair of WiGig Alliance and VP of Marketing at Wilocity. “But this alliance is a direct path to market if the IEEE turns out to be a dead end.” The WiGig Alliance’s specification envisions a host of tri-band products, including consumer electronics hardware, displays, battery-operated handheld devices, and home networking equipment that will remain compatible with existing Wi-Fi products. </p> <p>WiGig moved to further grease the skids by forging a partnership with the <a href="">Wi-Fi Alliance</a>, the trade group currently responsible for certifying wireless products as being in compliance with IEEE 802.11 standards. “This is a shorter-range technology that has a lot of bandwidth,” added WiGig Alliance board member and Dell executive Bruce Montag. “It’s designed to complement Wi-Fi, not replace it.” </p> <p>This WiGig/Wi-Fi partnership could kill the existing standard, WirelessHD, even though that technology is available at retail today in wireless HDMI streamers from <a href="">Gefen</a> and <a href=";skuId=9620828&amp;st=rocketfish%20wirelesshd&amp;cp=1&amp;lp=1">Best Buy</a>. “One guy will run ahead of the pack by doing one thing really well” said Grodzinsky, “but his product will only serve this limited market. Our alliance will get the industry together in a very methodical way. As an industry body, we have a spec that works, and we’re working on developing a certification process, so we can get the stamp of interoperability.” </p> <p>WiGig Alliance members include all the heavy hitters in tech—Intel, AMD, Atheros, Microsoft, Broadcom, Nvidia, Marvell, and Realtek—and the alliance announced today that Cisco was joining its board of directors. Its roster also boasts a strong lineup of consumer electronics manufacturers, including Panasonic, Toshiba, Nokia, and Harman. Publication of the WiGig spec means that member companies can begin developing 60GHz wireless products now, without the need to pay royalties or licensing fees. The alliance expects to see the first retail products by Q4 2010 or early in 2011. </p> 802.11n HDMI streaming wi-fi wireless News Editor Blogs Mon, 10 May 2010 17:26:37 +0000 Michael Brown 12349 at Hands On: Seagate's New Hard Drive Wears Its Controller on the Outside <!--paging_filter--><div><strong>Updated 5/06/10 12:30PST to reflect Seagate comments on pricing. </strong></div> <div> </div> <div>Yesterday Seagate announced their new <a href="">FreeAgent GoFlex line</a> of external drives, which is actually more interesting than it sounds. Instead of a standard 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drive with a SATA-to-USB controller inside, a GoFlex drive wears its controller on the outside. The GoFlex drive is not much more than a hard drive with a minimal plastic sheath and a SATA port, into which the drive controller itself is plugged. This allows you to change out drive controllers when you upgrade your system, plug the bare drive directly into a dock (like the GoFlex Net network-storage device or GoFlex TV HD media player, or (hopefully) just plug it into your rig for SATA speed with no overhead.</div> <div> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u22694/goflex_leftangle_usb_lo.jpg" alt="GoFlex USB Cable" title="GoFlex USB Cable" width="415" height="277" /><br /><strong>The GoFlex has modular cables, so today's USB 2.0 drive can become tomorrow's USB 3.0 drive easily.</strong></div> <div> </div> <div>The default SKU ships with a USB 2.0 controller and cable, but upgrade cables are available for USB 3.0, FireWire 800, and powered eSATA. The drives also plug into the GoFlex Net, which offers a web-based NAS-like interface from which you can stream, access, upload, and share files from any browser-enabled device inside your home or outside, and the GoFlex TV HD, which is essentially the spiritual successor to the FreeAgent Theater. </div> <div> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u22694/goflex_tv_lo.jpg" alt="GoFlex TV HD" title="GoFlex TV HD" width="415" height="426" /><br /><strong>The GoFlex TV HD. The front panel opens to accommodate two bare GoFlex drives.</strong></div> <div> </div> <div>Seagate told us they plan on offering the controller platform to third-parties to build on. So far they offer a cable with automatic backup software for $30.</div> <div> </div> <div>I got a chance to check out these products in person, and I’m tentatively impressed. Seagate showed us full 1080p HD video streaming from a GoFlex drive plugged in to the GoFlex Net to a GoFlex TV HD via Ethernet. The GoFlex Net has a Gigabit Ethernet connection to accommodate multiple connections, while the GoFlex TV HD has 10/100, which is fast enough to stream HD video—if you're not doing anything else on your network. We also saw video streaming over the Web from the GoFlex Net's onboard PogoPlay software, which even offers on-the-fly transcoding.</div> <div> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u22694/goflex_net_lo.jpg" alt="GoFlex Net" title="GoFlex Net" width="415" height="467" /><br /><strong>The GoFlex Net has a Gigabit Ethernet connection and holds two GoFlex drives. TWO drives. Ah ah ah.</strong></div> <div> </div> <div>The GoFlex drives come in three main flavors: the standard GoFlex line of 5400rpm 2.5-inch drives in capacities from 320GB to 1TB; the GoFlex Pro, which bumps the speed up to 7200rpm and adds a dock with backup software and a capacity meter, and the GoFlex Desk line, which uses 3.5-inch drives up to 2TB. </div> <div> </div> <div>Using standard SATA ports for the default interface means consumers have an incentive to buy in to the whole ecosystem—a bare GoFlex drive slotted into the Net or TV HD is going to be faster than a USB 2.0 drive connected to a similar product. </div> <div>The GoFlex is an ambitious product line. The two things that will make or break the GoFlex line are price and performance.</div> <div> </div> <div>As for the former, a 500GB GoFlex with USB 2.0 $129, while a 500GB GoFlex Pro is $149. A USB 3.0 upgrade cable is $30 (or $80 with a USB 3.0 ExpressCard adapter), while upgrade cables for FireWire 800 and eSATA are $39 and $19, respectively. By comparison, 500GB USB 2.0 FreeAgent Go from the last generation is only $100, and a 500GB WD My Passport is around $110. </div> <div></div> <div>So is the GoFlex idea (modular hard drives, cables, and docks) interesting enough to be worth the extra dough? And do they actually perform as well as Seagate claims? We'll find out. One potential concern: by now, full-disk encryption is pretty standard on portable hard drives, but the GoFlex line doesn’t offer it. Seagate says that can be taken care of by use of another controller cable, but one isn’t available yet. </div> <div> </div> <div>Seagate isn’t doing anything particularly revolutionary from a power-user perspective—after all, we already know how to stream media across our network, access our files from outside the network, and even crack open our portable drives to wire them into our rigs. But they are putting a more consumer-friendly face on the whole thing—and, of course, creating an incentive to buy into the whole ecosystem.</div> <div> </div> <div>We have a 500GB GoFlex drive (with the USB 2.0 attachment) in the Lab; we’ll be reviewing more parts of the ecosystem as they become available. </div> <div> </div> <div>So what do you think? Is this exciting, or just a big gimmick? Is it worth paying the price premium and forgoing encryption? And how on earth are the Lost writers going to wrap everything up in just four and a half more hours? Sound off in the comments.</div> <div> </div> <div>Also worth noting: the controller cables totally work on any SATA drive. Just attached a 128GB SSD to my workstation with the USB 2.0 controller from the GoFlex. So that's handy. </div> <div> </div> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u22694/goflexssd_sm.jpg" alt="GoFlex cable works as SATA/USB bridge" title="GoFlex controller on an SSD" width="415" height="248" /> <br /><strong>The GoFlex USB 2.0 controller connecting an SSD to our test rig</strong></div> <div> </div> <div><strong>Update 5/06/10:</strong> The prices we listed for the GoFlex are MSRP, while the last generation FreeAgent Go and My Passport prices we listed are street prices, and discounted in the case of the last-gen FreeAgent. Seagate says the GoFlex drives will be competitively priced. &quot;Seagate is not charging a premium for this system. HDD prices fluctuate with the market regularly and we will be at parity with competing products of the same capacity,&quot; says Nathan Papadopulos of Seagate, who also told us that the FreeAgent Go is now discounted to reflect the update to the GoFlex system. </div> <div>Papadopulos also points out that though the GoFlex drives don't have full-disk encryption, the GoFlex and GoFlex Pro backup software does include encryption. </div> hard drives news portable storage seagate Streaming Media usb USB 3.0 News Editor Blogs Features Wed, 05 May 2010 19:55:22 +0000 Nathan Edwards 12288 at