Sorry, we couldn’t resist the headline. For the record: We’re not predicting the early demise of AMD’s new Live Home Cinema reference platform (code-named Maui). AMD sent us a sample build several months ago, but we wanted to live with it for a while before publishing our thoughts on the design.
We’re big fans of home-theater PCs, especially the build-it-yourself variety (be sure and check out the May issue of Maximum PC for Will Smith’s terrific how-to guide to building one of your own). If AMD can resolve one major issue, we think Maui will be the best home-theater PC platform on the market.
With a home-theater PC, you can stream all manner of Hollywood content for free (from websites such as Hulu) or for a small fee (from online stores such as iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon’s Unbox). While you can accomplish the same thing with a media center extender and any PC equipped with a version of Windows that includes Windows Media Center, a dedicated HTPC leaves that other machine available for other tasks. A home-theater PC with a Blu-ray drive can play HD movies, too, but comparing home-theater PCs to Blu-ray disc players—which are becoming increasingly PC-like—is more problematic. We’ll get to that soon enough; for now, let’s take a detailed look at AMD’s Live Home Cinema platform.
UPDATE: There will be another chance to win at 4PM PST today! We’ve given out t-shirts, small toys, and even a personal beverage cooler in our weekly Twitter trivia contest (hosted by @willsmith), but this month, we’re raising the stakes by giving away one HP Mini 1001 netbook! Starting next week, our Illustrious Editor-in-Chief will challenge his Twitter followers with a series of three technology trivia questions. Correct answers will score you one entry in our random drawing, which we’ll conduct on Tuesday, March 24th. One lucky grand prize winner will score the netbook (Approximate value, $490 USD) and five first place winners will get a Left 4 Dead t-shirt, courtesy of Valve Software. We won’t be announcing the times of the trivia questions on the website, so subscribe to Will’s Twitter feed to make sure you don’t miss out!
Read on for the official rules and more photos of the prize!
Look what the mail truck dragged in! After first announcing the X8 in early September (where we got our first look and photos of the mouse), Microsoft has finally shipped the latest addition to the Sidewinder gaming mouse family. The X8 adopts Microsoft’s proprietary Bluetrack technology, which empowers it with 4000 DPI tracking resolution (scalable from 500) and the ability to work on almost any surface. We tested this claim on five different surfaces, from a rough wood desk to Styrofoam board and even coarse carpet. The mouse worked fine (though understandable not perfectly smooth) on all of our test surfaces, and only failed when we tried moving it over glass.
The shipping version doesn’t differ much from the pre-production model we fondled back in September, and retained the nice grip and smart button placement that we liked from our first hands-on. The included rechargable battery was a cinch to install, and tethering the mouse to the thin magnetic cord didn’t hinder our sweeping mouse movements. The wireless receiver is built into a clunky puck-like disc that sits on your desk, which ensures that you get better reception than if the receiver was hidden on a USB key behind your PC. The X8 still feels big for some hands, but our initial impression is that this is a winner. We’ll post our full review soon, but for now, enjoy these sexy unboxing and handling photos.
In our March 2009 issue, we dressed our illustrious Editor-in-Chief up as a one of the ravenous antagonists from our Game of the Year, Valve’s Left 4 Dead.
The transformation from living human to decaying dead took almost two hours, though in the end it made for an amusing, but slightly horrifying, photo shoot. Read on to find out how we managed to turn this famed zombie slayer into one of his victims, or follow along to attempt your own zombie transformation.
Nvidia stands at a crossroads, with two closed, proprietary APIs that have mainstream potential: the general-purpose computing CUDA API, and the PhysX physics-acceleration API, which sits on top of CUDA. These are both promising technologies, but only owners of Nvidia hardware can harness their power. Meanwhile, there are two emerging open standards that mirror what Nvidia is doing with its proprietary development. One is OpenCL 1.0, and the other is a general-purpose GPU computing API, which Microsoft will include in DirectX 11. There are a relatively small number of consumer applications that use CUDA, PhysX, or OpenCL right now, but the possible applications for the tech are endless—grossly simplified, these APIs let graphics chips perform CPU-like functions.
The question Nvidia needs to be asking is simple: Will developers write their general-purpose GPU computing apps using a proprietary API that works on only a subset of PCs—those stuffed with Nvidia hardware—or will they use an open API that will work on every PC on the market?
Maximum PC intercepted the following memorandum from a high-level Comcast executive to the company’s Board of Directors. We suggest you read it once, and then immediately delete all traces of this text from your PC. This is seriously twisted stuff.
From the Maximum PC Archive - Odds are, you already have everything you need to turn that big TV in your living room into an movie and music jukebox that will put all your media at your fingertips and amaze your friends. Whether you ripped your entire CD and DVD collection, purchase DRM-free content online, or you acquire your media from less legitimate sources, we'll show you everything you need to know to stream your audio, video, and pictures to your Xbox 360, PS3, or any other UPNP-compatible streaming device!
Sorry for the late notice, but we're going to be taking Maximum PC offline for an hour or so later this evening, starting around 9PM Pacific/midnight Eastern. If you're reading this, we're back. Woo! The good news is that we're taking the site down to upgrade the hardware (more on that later), which should result in snappier load times and less downtime, even when the site is running under extremely heavy loads. I'll be posting status updates on my Twitter, as I don't have much else to do during the migration. If you notice anything weird after the site comes back up, please post about it in the comments.
Think a 30-inch monitor at 2560x1600 resolution is amazing? Then you haven’t seen Merdian’s 810 Reference Video System that gives you a 4096 x 2160 projected image for the low price of $185,000. But we have.
We got to touch and see the 810 up close and personal last week in a private demonstration held at Dolby Laboratories headquarters. Why Dolby? The company has a famous 90-seat theater in its main building in San Francisco that’s actually nicer than most small screens at the multiplex. And how does this monster of a projector perform? Read on to find out!
Click through to read our impressions of the 810 Reference Video System
We almost didn't believe our eyes, but Fabrik is launching a completely eco-friendly external drive. And by completely, we mean completely. The outer shell of the 500GB Simpletech "Redrive" is constructed of 100-percent recycled aluminum and bamboo. And even the drive's packaging seems to have been designed by a Planeteer: the box itself is made up of 100-percent recyclable material, and there are no extra plastic bags, twist ties, or printed marketing materials of any kind.
Click the "Read More" link to check out all the other products Fabrik showed us!