Flip’s SlideHD reminds us of Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, not the Rocky Balboa of the original Rocky or even Rocky II. Instead, we’re thinking of Rocky III, where The Champ comes in out of shape and loses to, of all people, Mr. T.
What else would you think after picking up Cisco’s Flip SlideHD? Unlike the Flip MinoHD 8GB, which is truly svelte, the SlideHD feels chunky.
You can thank the camera’s “slide” feature for much of the chunk. Unlike previous Flips that have a tiny two-inch screen integrated in the back, the back of the Flip SlideHD sports a much larger three-inch touch screen that flips open and sits at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the unit for video playback.
Just when you think you’ve grasped all the jargon surrounding 3D graphics, new terms and technologies flood onto the market.
AMD has been aggressively shipping DirectX 11 GPUs in almost every price category, while cards based on Nvidia’s new GTX 470 and GTX 480 DX11 parts are finally becoming available. Meanwhile, Windows 7’s sales ramp has been extraordinary—the fastest-selling Microsoft OS in history. Given that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, it’s also arguable that DirectX 11 is what DX10 should have been.
When DirectX 10 games hit the streets, the new API gave users marginal improvements in image quality alongside huge performance decreases. The tiny gain in visual fidelity didn’t really make up for the performance hit. On the other hand, DirectX 11 brings users some very cool potential eye-candy improvements, but also promises better performance—even if you don’t have a DirectX 11 GPU.
Along with new graphics, APIs come with new buzzwords: tessellation, SSAO, HDAO, and postprocessing. That last buzzword being a catchphrase for many small but cool effects made possible with today’s programmable graphics chips.
We’ll take a closer look at these buzzwords to dissect what they actually deliver, plus discuss the performance impact of using high-end AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
Pocket Projector is an apt label for 3M’s MPro150 video projector. It’s not only incredibly small, but it’s completely self-contained, too. All the software you need to display digital photos and videos, PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and even PowerPoint presentations is built right in. You can even store those files in the 1GB of onboard flash memory or on the 2GB MicroSD card that’s included. And it’ll run on either AC or battery power.
Could any component in a router’s BOM (bill of materials) cost less than an LED? Don’t think so. So why the heck did Belkin design its Play Max wireless router to use a single LED to inform you of its operating status?
Granted, the Play Max’s street price is $20 to $30 cheaper than many other concurrent dual-band wireless routers, and there might even be a lot of folks who don’t pay much attention to details like the status of their router’s ports or whether or not both of the router’s radios are operating. We do though, and a single LED that glows green when the router has an Internet connection and amber if something is amiss doesn’t cut it.
After 9.5 versions of Photoshop (Windows wasn’t supported until PS 2.5) it’s easy to become jaded about Adobe’s stalwart photo editor. Fortunately, Photoshop CS5 gives us something to get worked up about all over again.
Packing more than 250 new features, Photoshop CS5 is an amazing upgrade capable of performing a wide range of tasks we’ve never seen before, while simultaneously simplifying the trademark tasks we’ve come to know and love.
More often than not, a monolithic public corporation acquiring a small independent company ends up stifling innovation, sacrificing quality for quantity, and inexorably suffocating the golden goose. Happily, that scenario never played out when Logitech bought Slim Devices. While we don’t have any insight as to what’s gone on behind the scenes, we can tell you that the Touch—the fourth addition to the Squeezebox family of digital audio receivers under Logitech’s reign—is utterly fabulous.
Somewhat ironically for a game titled Conviction, rendering a verdict on superspy Sam Fisher’s latest skulking, sneaking, neck-snapping adventure is actually pretty difficult. Here’s the problem: There are two ways to judge Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction—as a longtime series fan, or as someone who thinks a Splinter Cell is something that needs to be examined by a doctor before it becomes infected. The good/bad news, depending on which camp you fall into: Conviction is fast-paced, action-packed, and prone to bouts of random, violent explosion. Sorry, longtime fans.
Like all the cases in Antec’s Sonata line, the Proto is a consumer case with an emphasis on quiet performance. In fact, it’s virtually identical to its predecessor, the Sonata III 500, except for a few small details. It’s not a gaming chassis—it lacks such essentials as cable management, toolless bays, multiple fans, or a removable right-side panel—but it doesn’t claim to be. It does claim to be silent, efficient, and affordable. So is it?
The Sonata Proto is on the small side for a mid-tower chassis, at eight inches wide, 16.5 inches high, and 18.5 inches deep. Its frame and side panels are steel, with a plastic front bezel and door. The side and top panels are painted a mid-quality matte black, with a glossy front panel and door. The door hides the front drive bays as well as the power and reset switches, and both it and the side panel have barrel locks on them. The rest of the case is unpainted metal. It supports microATX, Mini-ITX, and standard ATX motherboards, although a full ATX mobo will leave your rig feeling cramped. The motherboard tray is not removable and does not contain cutouts for CPU cooling backplates or cable management. In fact, the left side and top panel are one solid piece of rolled steel riveted to the frame, thus making the job of installing a system much harder than it needs to be.
GPUs that cost $500 are all well and good, but the sweet spot for high-end graphics cards is in the $350–$400 range. That’s still a good chunk of change, but it can get you a card with close to 90 percent of the performance of high-end cards.
That’s certainly true of EVGA’s GTX 470 SC. Built on a cut-down version of Nvidia’s high-end, DirectX 11 GPU, this card posted eyebrow-raising benchmarks, pretty much putting it into a class of its own.
EVGA’s super-clocked GTX 470 GPU ships with 448 shader processors, running at 625MHz, with a shader clock of 1,280MHz. That’s a 3 percent faster core clock and 2.5 percent faster memory frequencies than the stock GTX 470. (The GTX 480 uses 480 shader processors at 700MHz). The 320-bit-wide memory interface pumps data to 1,280MB of GDDR5 running at 850MHz (3,400MHz effective.) Of course, the card supports the usual set of Nvidia features, including hardware SLI, PhysX acceleration, and 3D Vision Surround video.
Our notebook benchmarks had barely recovered from the wailing they took at the hands of AVADirect’s Core i7/SLI-wielding X8100 (reviewed June) when Eurocom’s D900F arrived to inflict further punishment. At least this time around they suffered a different set of injuries.
Eurocom’s 17-inch desktop replacement flexes its muscle in the form of a 3.33GHz Core i7-980X, making it the first hexa-core notebook we’ve tested. The humble 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo T9900 in our zero-point notebook didn’t stand a chance. We watched in awe as the D900F tore through the applications benchmarks with brute force. From its 450 percent lead in Premiere Pro to its 222 percent lead in ProShow Producer to even its 56 percent lead in the mostly single-threaded Photoshop test, the D900F was merciless. It even walloped the 1.73GHz Core i7-820 quad-core in AVADirect’s X8100, with leads ranging from 29 percent (Photoshop) to 225 percent (Premiere Pro).