OCZ has added a backlit keyboard to its Alchemy line of gaming peripherals, but this one comes with a twist. Unlike traditional backlit planks, OCZ's Illuminati lets users switch between blue or red LED backlit keys, erasing the fear that the decor at the next LAN party you attend might clash with your keyboard.
In addition to the user-selectable color scheme, the Illuminati comes equipped with rubber-coated keys, which the company claims will last for more than 5 million cycles. Gamers can also make use of 14 multimedia and internet hotkeys and a curved wrist wrest. What you won't find on the keyboard are any USB ports.
OCZ launched its Alchemy line last year in an attempt to offer gaming peripherals without the high prices that typically come hand-in-hand. The Illuminati is the third keyboard in the company's Alchemy series, with the Elixir and Elixir II having come before it.
This is starting to get ugly. It's bad enough watching Intel and Nvidia go at each other over licensing disputes (remember how long we waited for SLI on Intel chipsets?), but the two aren't showing any signs of letting up. In response to Intel's recent lawsuit, which alleges Nvidia has no right to produce chipsets that are compatible with any Intel processor that has an integrated memory controller, the GPU/chipset maker had some choice words for Intel.
"We are confident that our license, as negotiated, applies," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia. "At the heart of this issue is that the CPU has run its course and the soul of the PC is shifting quickly to the GPU. This is clearly an attempt to stifle innovation to protect a decaying CPU business."
Huang has never been one to mince words, at one time declaring his company would "open a can of whoop-ass." Now less than a year later, the quote-worthy CEO has declared the CPU just another run-of-the-mill component taking a backseat to the GPU.
Nvidia's press release went on to talk up the company's Ion platform, and was quick to point out that it "offers 10x the performance of Intel's current three chip design." Huang also said that given the broad and growing adoption of Nvidia's platforms, including the Ion, he's not the least bit surprised Intel is disputing a four-year-old contract.
You know that couple that is always at odds with each other, turning parties and other get-togethers into awkward affairs? The worst part is when they both turn to you to pick a side, and all you're trying to do is have a good time. For power users, that couple is Intel and Nvidia. We don't know what it is with these two, but just when their relationship appears to be on an upswing, another squabble breaks out.
After years of butting heads, Intel and Nvidia just recently came to agreement over licensing the GPU maker's SLI technology for use on Intel chipsets, and all appeared to be right in the world. But now the two are at it again, this time with Intel taking the offensive. Intel has filed suit against Nvidia this week claiming that the four-year old chipset license agreement between the two does not cover both its current and any future CPUs with integrated memory controllers.
"Intel has filed suit against Nvidia seeking a declaratory judgment over rights associated with two agreements between the companies," Intel said in a statement. "The suit seeks to have the court declare that Nvidia is not licensed to produce chipsets that are compatible with any Intel processor that has integrated memory controller functionality, such as Intel’s Nehalem microprocessors and that Nvidia has breached the agreement with Intel by falsely claiming that it is licensed. Intel has been in discussions with Nvidia for more than a year attempting to resolve the matter but unfortunately we were unsuccessful. As a result Intel is asking the court to resolve this dispute."
Nvida contends that the license agreement is still valid, however admits that it has been "working with Intel to come to some kind of agreement" for the past year. And despite the lawsuit, Nvidia says it has no plans of changing its roadmap, including those chipsets which extend to future processors.
Less than a month after Fujitsu announced it would end production of read/write heads for hard drives, the company has sold off its HDD business to Toshiba. The two companies are aiming to have the transfer completed in the first quarter of 2009. Previously, Fujitsu was engaged in takeover talks with Western Digital, but the two couldn't agree on terms.
"Fujitsu will facilitate the transfer by bringing its HDD-related businesses and functions together in a new company," Fujitsu wrote in a press release. "Toshiba will acquire about an 80 percent stake in this company and make it a Toshiba Group subsidiary. In order to promote a smooth transfer, Fujitsu will continue to hold a stake of under 20 percent in the new company for a certain period of time, after which it will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba."
Toshiba, who is already a player in the 2.5-inch HDD market, looks to reinforce its position, while also moving in on the enterprise HDD market, an area Fujitsu has been very active. Toshiba is also looking at the solid-state drive (SSD) market, "fusing Toshiba's NAND flash memory technology with Fujitsu's enterprise HDD technology." Despite the heavy focus in the past several months, SSDs have been intentionally overlooked by Fujitsu, who has been turned off random write performance.
Toshiba said it will aim to raise its share in the overall HDD market to over 20 percent by 2015.
The SSD era is fast approaching and Intel would like nothing more than to flood the retail channel with its own branded solid-state drives. To help do that, and to clear out stockpiled inventory, Intel has started offering significant discounts to its channel partners who opt to buy Core i7 processors and SSDs bundled together, says Digitimes.
According to the report, discounts range from 10 to 15 percent and primarily target markets in China, Europe, and North America. For reference, pricing for the company's latest SSDs looks like this:
X25-E 32GB: $410
X18-M 80GB: $385
X25-M 80GB: $385
X18-M 160GB: $760
Intel also plans to launch the X25-E 64GB later this year for $790, before discount. However, it's not a given that the bundled price points will result in less expensive parts for the end-user. There's no stipulation in place that the discount has to be passed on to consumers, and vendors could opt to keep the savings for themselves.
Upgrading is an obligation of any self-respecting PC geek. It’s an affirmation of your thirst for power, a healthy rejection of the status quo. Upgrading is an acknowledgement of the fact that there’s always a way to improve your rig. You may have the funds for premium parts—lucky you. We’ll tell you exactly what those parts are. But even if your means are more modest, there are affordable parts in every major component category that can breathe new life into an aged PC.
Regardless of your financial situation, you must address some important questions before embarking on an upgrade. First, you need to honestly assess your rig’s merits. You shouldn’t waste money upgrading your PC if it still sports an AGP slot or a pre-AM2 Athlon 64 motherboard. The question you should ask yourself is whether it’s more cost effective to gut the machine and replace its primary components—motherboard, CPU, memory, and videocard—than it is to do a piecemeal retrofit. If you look at your rig and decide to build new, check out our full build-a-pc guide, but if you’re ready to proceed with an upgrade, click to find out how!
If you want to take full advantage of your PC’s audio potential, you should connect your rig to your A/V receiver and passive speakers—or a really good set of powered speakers. But accomplishing this task is often tricky, thanks to a combination of digital rights issues, proprietary surround-sound algorithms, and evolving connection standards.
Computers outfitted with Blu-ray drives and certain late-model videocards can deliver Blu-ray video over HDMI, but getting HD audio that way is another issue. An HDMI cable can carry both high-definition video and up to eight channels of high-definition audio (front left and right, front center, rear left and right, side left and right, and low-frequency effects). Blu-ray discs are typically encoded using Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, or DTS-HD Master Audio; all three of these eight-channel lossless compression codecs can deliver bit-for-bit perfect copies of the original movie soundtrack. Here lies the rub: PCs currently cannot output audio encoded in any of these formats over HDMI.
A properly outfitted PC running CyberLink’s PowerDVD 8, however, can decrypt and decompress Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD and output it as uncompressed eight-channel LPCM (linear pulse code modulation) to HDMI. However, while videocards based on newer Nvidia GPUs are outfitted with HDMI, they’re all limited to two-channel LPCM (linear pulse code modulation) audio over HDMI, and that’s only if your motherboard has a S/PDIF-out header
AMD’s RV7xx-series cards can deliver uncompressed eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI because they route the signals over the PCI Express bus. For integrated graphics, motherboards with Nvidia’s GeForce 8300 chipsets (for AMD CPUs) and GeForce 9300 or GeForce 9400 chipsets (for Intel CPUs), and those with Intel’s G35 Express, G45 Express, and G965 Express chipsets can do it, too.
We highlight the four most common PC audio scenarios. Pick the one that fits your situation and we’ll show you the best way to integrate your PC into your home-theater system.
With the recent release of Nvidia's GTX 285 (single GPU) and 295 (dual-GPU) videocards, ATI's performance crown has been under siege. But according to chatter around the web, the GPU maker is set to respond with a new videocard in a couple of months.
Specifically, VR-Zone claims to have confirmed ATI will release its HD 4890 in April. The new card is expected to use the RV790 core and would appear to put to rest an earlier rumor stating ATI plans to name its new card the HD 4970. As currently spec'd, the HD 4890 will come clocked at 850MHz with GDDR5 running at 975MHz. The current RV770-based HD 4870 runs at 750MHz (core) and 900MHz (memory).
VR-Zone also says there will be two versions of the new card, a standard and OC edition. The standard edition is expected to launch in mid-April, with the OC card reaching retail by the end of April. if the rumor pans out, expect the OC edition to cost $299 at launch.
In what's sure to appeal to pandas, ninjas, and environmentalists who just can't go green enough, DBL Distributing LLC has partnered with Micro Innovations to release a full lineup of bamboo computer accessories. Why bamboo, you ask?
DBL points out that bamboo is a natural resource that's easily harvested and replenished with almost no impact to the earth. Switching to bamboo cuts back on carbon dioxide gasses, and DBL says it can be harvested in 3-5 years instead of the 10-50 years it takes to harvest most soft and hard woods.
"There is a high demand for environmentally friendly products," states Tim Coakley, Senior VP of Merchandising for DBL. "Research suggests that customers will pay a higher price for 'green' products and technology. Micro Innovations has developed a great new eco-friendly product line-up that is stylish and speaks to an under saturated market of people who seek eco-friendly innovative technology."
Starting in April, DBL will begin selling Micro Innovations' EcoSmart Bamboo computer keyboard and mouse for an unspecified price. Shortly after, DBL will add Bamboo speakers, webcam, 4-port USB hub, media card reader, and USB keyboard, also at unspecified price points.
Earlier this week Lite-On announced a new line of internal DVD writers it says will be the fastest on the market with a 24X rated write speed. The new drives will come in three different versions, with all three sporting Lite-On's SmartErase data erasing feature. Lite-On's fastest model, the iHAS624, will be the only one to come with the company's LabelTag feature, which allows users to create label tags on the data side of the disc.
"PLDS is proud to manufacture the fastest 24X writers in the market, especially with included technologies such as LabelTag," said Christine Hsing, Marketing Manager at PLDS. "LabelTag provides a cost-effective and flexible method for professional disc labeling, a great solution for today’s busy professional, and people on-the-go."
Lite-On says that users can still add data after using its LabelTag technology, which works on any standard recordable media. Two of the drives -- the iHAP424 and iHAS624 -- will also support LightScribe.
The iHAS324 with SmartErase will be available in March, the iHAP424 with SmarErase and Lightscribe by the end of March, and the iHAS624 with SmartEarase, LightScribe, and LabelTag by mid-May. No word yet on pricing.