Price is one of the last elements we take into account when we evaluate a new product. We’d rather spend a little more get a lot more in terms of features and performance. But Sceptre’s X270W-1080p is selling online for as little as $300, and that earns it more than a highly qualified buy recommendation—especially if you’re a gamer with a fast videocard and you’re looking to move up from something a lot smaller.
Now don’t get the wrong idea: This is not a great monitor by any stretch of the imagination; it suffers from many of the typical shortcomings we’ve seen with other twisted-nematic panels. While testing using DisplayMate Multimedia with Test Photos (www.displaymate.com), for example, we encountered color-tracking problems where blocks of what should have been the same color exhibited variations in tint depending on where they appeared on the monitor.
It's turning out to be a banner year for TV makers, who according to market research firm DisplaySearch, will ship more than 242 million TV sets globally in 2010. That number marks a 15 percent on-year growth rate, made even more significant when you consider shipments only grew by 2 percent in 2009.
Not surprisingly, LCD displays are performing exceptionally well with a 29 percent growth rate to 188 million units, but don't go counting out plasma and CRT TVs just yet. DisplaySearch says both have a better outlook in 2010 than previously expected. Plasma TV shipments, for example, rose 24 percent on-year in the first quarter of 2010, driven by demand for high value-per-inch.
On the LCD side, LED-backlit displays are quickly gaining ground. While only 3.9 million LED-backlit LCD TVs were shipped around the globe in the 2009, DisplaySearch expects that number to jump to 37 million units in 2010.
"Most of the top LCD TV brands are strongly emphasizing LED technology in an attempt to offset declining profits and prices fo CCFL-backlit models," said Hisakazu Torii, VP of TV market research for DisplaySearch. "This has led to a shortage of critical LED backlight components, and the lofty goals for LED market share in 2010 have been tempered somewhat by the reality of supply constraints."
By the end of the year, DisplaySearch reckons LED-backlit displays will account for 20 percent of total LCD shipments.
The art of the PC upgrade is simultaneously an expression and a test of one’s diagnostic skills, computing savvy, and fiscal sensibilities. Identify the bottleneck. Research the parts that will fix the bottleneck. Remove the bottleneck.
As always, price and performance are the pivot points. After all, you can’t just toss $1,000 at your system to level it up. Well, you can, but in most cases you’d be a fool for doing so.
When the Maximum PC staff convened in conference room Spock to plan this story, we decided to establish some ground rules. First, we challenged ourselves to stick to our theme of a successful budget upgrade. This meant avoiding the tendency to fall back on the most expensive, best-of-breed components in each category.
Instead we forced ourselves to take a more nuanced approach. In each category, we expended considerable energy determining which product(s) owned the sweet spot—top-left on the 2x2 grid if you’re graph-happy—of the price-performance ratio. Staying consistent with our real-world theme, we used real-world pricing from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Because we’re talking about upgrading an existing machine, you’ll find no case or mobo recommendations here.
Without further adieu, we happily present the results of our research. After the jump you’ll find a bevy of product recommendations that prove you don’t have to break the bank to achieve substantial gains in performance.
For those of you hoping to score Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld console in time for the holidays, you better have a backup gift to add to your wish list. Addressing rumors suggesting an October launch, Nintendo said not to expect the 3DS until 2011.
"Nintendo 3DS will not be arriving in 2010. 3DS won't be appearing until next year," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
Reggie's comments came during a taping of the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon talk show and clarify what Nintendo has said all along, which is that the 3DS would ship before March 31, 2011. How much earlier remains to be seen, and given the early hype, it's possible Nintendo could push the release date back to buy some time to line up more supply.
Nintendo's 3DS console has been making headlines because of its ability to produce 3D images without requiring the viewer to don a pair of stereoscopic glasses.
Buying the right HDTV is actually much harder than simply walking into a store and laying down some plastic - and certainly much harder than it should be. There are quite a few cautions but also quite a few things that you can do to prepare yourself. Virtually identical issues apply to buying computer monitors, so keep the following info and tips in mind the next time you're in the market for a monitor as well.
We're still not sold on 3D for the living room (and outside of Avatar, we haven't been super impressed with 3D in movie theaters, either), but one thing we love are large screen displays. Mitsubishi pairs both of these with its latest LaserVue display, a monstrous 75-inch 3D-capable TV.
That's a ton of real estate, and it's not even Mitsubishi's largest 3D display. For those of you willing to roll with DLP technology, Mitsubishi also announced an 82-inch 3D DLP Home Cinema set complete with a 16-speaker array capable of outputting 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround.
"3D at the cinema is large, immersive entertainment, and the optimal way to replicate that experience in the home is with Mitsubishi’s mammoth LaserVue and 3D DLP Home Cinema TVs," said Frank DeMartin, vice president of marketing, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America. "We have one of the largest 3D TVs at 82-inches, and now with the addition of our new 75-inch 3D-ready LaserVue TV with Cinema Color, Mitsubishi 3D TV owners can now feel fully immersed in their favorite 3D movies, 3D games and 3D broadcasts at home."
You'll still need to wear a pair of dorky glasses, which Mitsubishi provides as part of its 3D Starter Pack ($400). Inside the kit are two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses, a 3D emitter, 3D adapter with remote, an HDMI cable, and a Disney Blu-ray disc filled with 3D trailers.
Citing Taiwan-based television manufacturers, news and rumor site DigiTimes says that technological developments of 240Hz LCD TV panels have progressed to the point where volume production is expected to begin in the second half of 2010. Combined with LCD shutter glasses, these two technologies are fast becoming the mainstream technology for 3D displays.
This has 3D TV vendors cautiously optimistic about the future. On one hand, there's some concern whether 3D TV demand will continue to grow, as early indications suggest. Despite the questionable future, several industry heavyweights are planning to push 3D into the mainstream. Samsung, for example, has set a goal of shipping 2.6 million 3D TVs in 2010, while Sony will shove 2.2 million units into the market. Panasonic won't be quite as busy, setting a goal of 1.1 million units, while LG Electronics plans to ship 1 million units.
It's no secret that tablets are gearing up to become as popular as netbooks, but would you have guessed that the current and upcoming demand would push shipments of touchscreen displays up by 5,000 percent in 2010? First of all, that's not a typo, and secondly, that's the exact number market research firm iSuppli is predicting.
"The rising popularity of slates is setting off a conflagration in touch screen technology, firing up not only the long-dormant tablet computer market but also all-in-one PCs, desktops and monitors," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitors and sustainability displays for iSuppli.
It's going to be a touchy-feely tech world in the coming years, iSuppli suggests. Global shipments of touchscreen tablets and tablet-like devices is expected to rise to 8.9 million units in 2010, up from only 176,000 in 2009. After than, touchscreen shipments will jump seven-fold by 2013 and reach 63.9 million units, iSuppli says.
Tired of hearing about 3D? Get used to it folks, this is one fad that shows no sign of going away, and instead continues to pick up steam. It's infectious, and the latest to catch the 3D bug is Lenovo, which just announced its first 3D laptop, the IdeaPad Y560d.
"Fun is a notebook that brings multimedia to life—and the IdeaPad Y560d does this in a dramatic fashion with a truly unique 3D viewing experience," said Dion Weisler, vice president, business operations, Lenovo. "While 3D technology has been around for ages, it has not been readily accessible to consumers within the home. Lenovo is helping bridge this gap by delivering consumers a 3D experience on a familiar PC platform that can be viewed and enjoyed when and where they want."
The IdeaPad Y560d measures 15.6 inches and, like just about every other 3D product on the market, requires special glasses to see objects in three dimensions. In addition, Lenovo says its TriDef technology will allow users to view standard 2D videos and photos in 3D.
Lenovo didn't talk up the hardware specs in great detail, saying only that there will be both SSD and HDD options, an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, an ATI Radeon HD 5730 graphics chip, optional Blu-ray drive, HDMI, and of course Windows 7.
Look for the 3D IdeaPad to ship in late June starting at about $1,200.
It's bad enough having to don a pair of goofy looking spectacles just to enjoy 3D visuals, and if they don't fit right, it just rubs salt in the wound. Enter RealD, which today announced kid-sized 3D glasses so your children can look every bit as dorky as you do when watching Toy Story 3 or any number of other 3D movies in the theatrical pipeline.
"The little ones will be able to comfortably enjoy the great summer movies coming out in RealD 3D wearing glasses designed just for them," said Joseph Peixoto, President of Worldwide Cinema at RealD. "Kid-sized RealD 3D glasses are made to the same high-quality standards as adult size RealD glasses with each individually packaged in sealed bags ensuring they are clean and fresh for every moviegoer."
You can find Real3D 3D-equipped theaters by visiting www.RealD.com/theatrelocator, and then take a bit of solace knowing that this is all temporary. At some point -- and hopefully not all that far off in the future -- we'll look back at wearing special glasses for 3D visuals and laugh, much like we do already.