NZXT’s Panzerbox is akin to a Mini Cooper. It might look diminutive, but it has a surprising amount of space and is feature-packed, to boot. The Panzerbox is smaller than a mid-tower yet it has a slide-out motherboard tray, is made entirely of aluminum, and includes support for 12.2-inch videocards and even water cooling. At $120, it’s even affordable. On paper, the NZXT Panzerbox seems like the perfect case to house your LAN gaming rig. But is there a catch?
At 9.6 inches wide by 17.9 inches deep and 17.9 inches high, the Panzerbox’s all-aluminum chassis is one of the most compact modern ATX cases we’ve seen in years. And as mentioned above, that tiny chassis holds a lot of stuff, and still manages to offer decent airflow.
We had high hopes for Samsung’s P2770HD. After all, its 23-inch little brother rose to the top of a sea of crappy TN displays in our December 2009 roundup. With its street price of $400, the P2770HD looked like a strong value for folks with non-critical applications.
We stand by our opinion that twisted-nematic (TN) technology is inferior to in-plane switching (IPS), as well as our recommendation that you shouldn’t rely on a TN-panel monitor for critical applications such as photo and video editing (especially if your livelihood depends on it). On the other hand, TN panels like this one do deliver unarguably faster pixel response rates, which is great for gaming, and lately, they’ve become insanely cheap.
Even if you reject the iPad on an intestinal level—you know, because you don’t want to be associated with mock turtlenecks and man bags—then you should still view Apple’s device as a referendum on the looming wave of tablet computers. The bottom line is that the iPad is damn useful. The referendum has passed.
The LED-backlit display clocks 1024x768 pixels across 9.7 diagonal inches. Those are netbook-like specs in a physical formfactor that’s more attractive (both aesthetically and functionally) than any netbook. The best part about the screen is that it defines the iPad in toto—without the baggage of a hinged physical keyboard, track pad, or pointing stick, the iPad thrives when typing, web-surfing, or doing similarly simple tasks while lying on your back.
One sure sign that Windows Home Server has gone mainstream: You can buy Lenovo’s IdeaCentre D400 at Walmart. The D400 is remarkably similar in looks and features to Acer’s Aspire easyStore, which you’ll also find on the big-box retailer’s website (yes, HP’s MediaSmart Server LX195 is there, too).
Intel’s Atom 230 processor appears to be the CPU of choice among mainstream home-server builders, since Acer, HP, and Lenovo have all tapped the 1.6GHz chip. Lenovo pairs it with 1GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory (the motherboard is capable of addressing 2GB of memory, but there’s only one slot). The D400 ships with either one or two 1TB drives; the machine we reviewed was outfitted with two (thereby enabling Microsoft’s Drive Extender Technology to automatically duplicate shared folders across multiple drives). That leaves two internal, hot-swappable, 3.5-inch bays for future expansion.
We’ve come to realize that there is no single ideal build for a home-theater PC. Some folks want an HD tuner, while others want Blu-ray. Some even expect their HTPC to function as a full-tilt boogie gaming rig. Then there are the users who want nothing more than the ability to browse the web on their glorious 60-inch TV set and dive into the vast sea of streaming content.
For these latter folks, Dell’s Inspiron Zino HD seems like a perfect fit. Like a chubby Mac Mini, the Zino HD is quiet, small, and easy to tuck away in the AV rack. It’s outfitted with a dual-core 1.5GHz Athlon X2 3250e, 2GB of DDR2/667, and AMD’s 780G chipset with integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics. Instead of relying on a diminutive (and performance-sapping) 2.5-inch drive, the Inspiron Zino HD can fit a full-size 3.5-inch desktop drive. Our review model featured a 250GB drive, but options up to 1TB are offered, and we see no reason why a 2TB drive could not be used.
The unit has Gigabit Ethernet, two eSATA ports, VGA, HDMI, analog audio–out, and mic in on its behind. In front, the Zino has two USB ports, a headphone jack, and a multiformat card reader. Unfortunately, there’s no Wi-Fi as standard but 802.11g can be added for $25, and 802.11n for $45.
The terms petite and gaming notebook are about as incongruous as self-restraint and Wall Street, so our curiosity about Alienware’s M11x was naturally mixed with skepticism. Could this sub–five pound, 11-inch rig do much more than play aged or anemic titles?
Small as it is, the M11x indeed has substance. The first sign of hope was the GeForce GT 335M graphics card—a slightly faster kin to the GT 325M we found in Asus’s N61J 16-inch notebook (reviewed in May). Also stuffed into the wee chassis: a 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo overclocked to 1.73GHz (which can be turned off in the BIOS), 4GB of DDR2/1066 RAM, and a 7,200rpm 500GB hard drive. That’s a lot of gear to cram into an 11.25x8.25x1.25-inch body—so much, in fact, that there’s no room left for an optical drive.
You have to give AMD credit for trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
The Radeon HD 5830 is the odd duck of AMD’s 5000-series GPUs. The card itself is as long as the high-end HD 5870, and consumes more power at idle than the Radeon HD 5850. But that’s what you’d expect of a card built on a “salvaged” chip.
Salvaged chips are produced by taking chips that fail to pass muster as the highest-end part and selling them as lower-end parts. This can be seen in the Radeon HD 5830, which has 1,120 stream processors active, as opposed to 1,440 for the HD 5850 or 1,600 for the 5870.
Unlike AMD’s lower-end HD 5770, which uses the Juniper GPU, with 1.05 billion transistors and 800 stream processors, the 5830 sports the same 2.15-billion-transistor GPU as the 5870/5850, with more functional units disabled.
With the arrival of the much-hyped iPad and the rest of tablet-mania, it seems like ebooks are about to have their “iPod moment,” when they’ll go from a favorite of early adopters and bibliophiles to a mainstream phenomenon. There’s one problem, though: Unlike MP3s, there’s not a single, near-universal standard for ebooks. Historically, this has made it difficult to organize your ebooks and transfer them between various reading devices.
Fortunately, there’s one program that can help you solve nearly all of your ebook-related problems: Calibre. A free, open-source project, Calibre is one part iTunes-esque library-management program, one part batch-conversion tool, and one part file-transfer manager. In this article, we’ll show you how to use Calibre to manage your ebooks and to get them working on any reader.
Because everyone uses the Internet in a different way, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all browser. The feature set one person needs might be too little or too much for another person. Extensions for browsers like Firefox and Chrome go a long way toward solving this problem, but installing and managing extensions is a pain, and can be an overly complicated solution to often-simple problems.
That’s where bookmarklets come in.
There are few moments in life quite as sickening as realizing that you’ve spilled a beverage on one of your gadgets. The feeling can range from mild infuriation (spilling a Bud Light on your PlayStation controller) to near-coronary levels (knocking over a Mountain Dew: Code Red onto your brand-new laptop). Either way, it’s never something you want to go through. Because of that, we’ve put together a simple disaster plan for dealing with beverage-soiled electronics. We hope you never have to use it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you read it.