There are a few dirty secrets in the tech industry, and one of the best-guarded among them regards multichannel audio—everybody wants multichannel audio but almost no one actually runs the speakers to use it.
Sure, we all cheered when PC audio went from 4.1 to 5.1, and then from 6.1 to 7.1, but who actually runs that many satellites around his or her PC? That’s why Asus’s Xonar Essence STX is a soundcard that’s long overdue. Instead of pushing pointless multi-satellite specs, the Essence STX is aimed at folks who spend more money on a set of headphones than some people put out for an entire surround sound set.
I need recommendations on building a box that will play Blu-ray discs. My main computer (Q6600, Nvidia 8800 GT, 64-bit Vista, 8GB RAM) plays them fine. My media rig (older AMD, Nvidia 7900, XP Home, 4GB RAM) chokes on Blu-ray discs. When playing Blu-ray, which is more important, videocard or processor? Should I buy a cheaper processor—say, a Core 2 paired with a beefy GTX 850—or a quad-core with a 9500? And should I go Vista, or will XP be fine?
I’m ripping Blu-ray discs to the hard drive and playing them with PowerDVD 8 Ultra.
I just bought a brand-new Seagate 1.5TB Barracuda 7200.11 and I cannot format the drive. I own a Dell XPS 630 with Windows Vista Home Edition and I bought the drive to use as a second hard drive to store photos and movies. When I installed the drive I saw that the BIOS was showing the full 1.5TB but when I went into Windows it was showing only 1.37TB. I tried to format the drive by going into Disk Management, but when it’s about half way into formatting the drive, it just freezes and stops working. Please HELP!
When we first reviewed the original Logitech G9 (November 2007), we didn’t like it. Specifically, we thought it was uncomfortable to hold, using either of the removable shells. In fact, we described it as “not particularly comfortable for day-to-day mousing” before complaining that it was unsuitable for people who use a traditional palming grip.
We were wrong. After we made a few small adjustments to our grip, we fell in love with the G9—at least when using the grippy palm-friendly Precision body. We still don’t like the smooth grip—dubbed Wide Load—and we’re generally not fans of having to adjust our grip to suit a mouse, but the smooth response and power-gamer-friendly features that the G9x delivers make this mouse the best we’ve ever tested.
Jeff Koons is getting mixed signals from the American legal system. He’s an artist known for “appropriating” pop culture in his art—that’s infringing copyright to some, fair use to others.
In 1992 a photographer sued Koons for creating a statue of his photograph of two people with a line of puppies crossing their laps. Koons exaggerated the dogs’ features, turned them blue, added flowers, and called it “Banality.” The judge didn’t buy that this was different enough, or parody, and Koons lost the case along with some of the $300,000 he’d sold three statues for. It was a mixed verdict for the photographer—he won the case, but legally speaking, it seems his work really was banal.
HDMI (the acronym stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is one of the consumer electronics industry’s more remarkable innovations. This de facto HDTV interface enables the transmission of high-definition digital video, up to eight channels of digital audio, HDCP encryption, the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) protocol, and five volts of electrical power over a single cable.
HDMI 1.0, introduced in December 2002, had all of these features. The latest version, HDMI 1.3c, boasts several more, including support for Deep Color, auto lip sync, and the two high-definition multichannel audio formats used in Blu-ray discs. Let’s take a look at how HDMI accomplishes all this while remaining backward-compatible with the earlier DVI standard.
Silverstone is well-known for releasing a few solid chassis every year, usually rehashes of its Temjin full-tower line. But this year has already brought two excellent cases that mark departures from the tried-and-true: the full-tower Raven RV01 (reviewed in our March full-tower roundup) and the mid-tower Fortress FT01.
The Fortress FT01 is a solidly constructed aluminum unibody case that just screams attention-to-detail. Mid-tower cases often lack the amenities of their full-size cousins (compare Silverstone’s own Kublai line with its mighty full-tower Temjin series), but the Fortress handily escapes that trap.
After the chunky, plastic, stealth-bomber-like trappings of the RV01—which we dug, don’t get us wrong—it’s nice to see Silverstone back to the classy brushed-metal look it’s known for. The Fortress’s side panels and front bezels are black brushed aluminum, while the rest of the machine has a dusty matte-black finish, with a bit of wicked-looking mesh covering the intake fans.
Empire: Total War and Stormrise are two radically different games with a common core. Developed by Creative Assembly, they give us a rare opportunity to see the stark contrast between what PC and console strategy games can and cannot do.
Empire is a refinement of a revered brand, featuring new elements set within a familiar context. Despite the bugs, it’s still a deep, detailed, and beautiful strategy game with a different texture from any other Total War game.
Stormrise severs the 3D tactical element from the Total War series and reconfigures it as a third-person real-time strategy game. The ground-level FPS/RTS hybrid is not the huge innovation trumpeted by Sega. Pandemic’s Battlezone II: Combat Commander attempted a similar RTS/FPS mélange 10 years ago, with pretty solid results. But memories are short and hype is powerful in the game world, allowing Stormrise to position itself as “The First Truly 3D RTS Game.”
Asus’s Eee PC kicked off the netbook craze in 2007, and now the grandmaster of small-and-shiny returns with its best Eee ever. The 1000HE combines the 901’s extra-long battery life with the power and capacity of the 1002HA (which we reviewed in March), and throws in a nearly MacBook Pro–style full-size chiclet keyboard.
The 1000HE is the first netbook we’ve reviewed with Intel’s new Atom N280 processor, which kicks up the clocks from 1.6GHz to 1.66GHz, and the front-side bus to 667MHz from 533MHz. Other than that, it’s virtually the same hardware as Asus’s other 10-inch models, like the 1002HA. The 1000HE trades the 1002HA’s brushed-aluminum exterior for glossy fingerprint-prone plastic, with the chiclet keyboard supplanting the 1000HA’s more standard keys.
The four horsemen may be saddling up and Gozer the Gozerian might soon appear, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad news. With people digging in the couch crevices for dropped coins to build a new system, AMD’s back on the menu again. Don’t believe us?
We recently added up the cost differential of building a Core i7 machine versus a Phenom II rig and the AMD system saved us at least $200. Sure, the Core i7 will whup any Phenom II up and down the block, but $200 gets you a hell of a lot more videocard, hard drive, or power supply. If you’re thinking, “Why not Core 2?” our reasons are simple: legs. We don’t have faith Intel will push out faster and better Core 2 procs, but AMD will support AM2+ for at least 12 months through newer and faster AM3 CPUs.