OS X is out there. You’ve seen it in coffee shops, on TV, in the laps of hipsters at the local taqueria. There‘s no shame in wondering what all the fuss is about. Hell, it’s healthy to mix it up a little bit. If only the idea of sending Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple, Inc. thousands of your hard-earned dollars didn’t send you into a cold sweat that only a game of Left4Dead can cure. Still, OS X is the subject of many glowing reviews. Even hardcore PC users are singing its praises. If you have the itch to try out OS X, but you’re not down with shelling out the cash for a new Mac, we have one word for you: Hackintosh.
When Apple announced the move to Intel processors for its computer lineup, the search was on for a practical way to install OS X on non-Apple hardware. Over the years, the best way to achieve this feat was to patch a retail version of the OS X install from Apple. Users would scour the Internet for the patches—always hoping that what they downloaded was indeed the correct patch, and not some virus or trojan horse ready to wreck havoc on their PCs.
But these days the quest for OS X needn’t be so perilous. Read on to see how an inventive little USB device can let you easily dual boot OS X on non-Apple hardware, using a legitimate copy of OS X.
Imagine a world in which all cars are like the Toyota Prius: four-door midsize hybrids. Sure, they aren’t bad cars, you can paint them any way you want and even modify some parts, but in the end you still just have a generic Toyota with a funky paint job.
That’s the world of personal computing today. It doesn’t matter if you’re running Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Your machine is almost certainly using Intel chips at its core and almost everything else is fairly generic—even the world’s greatest case mod with water-cooled dual-Xeons and quad-SLI graphics is just a really fast PC.
This was definitely not the case 35 years ago. A quick tour of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, reveals machines that were as varied and unique as the companies that made them.
The microprocessors, if there even was one, were supplied by Intel, MOS, Zilog, RCA, or any number of other companies. Memory was static, dynamic, and shift-register. And without the Internet, programs were loaded from paper tape, punched cards, cassette tape, floppy disks, cartridge, or even manually switched in by hand.
In the following pages, we take a close look at some of the most influential personal computers of the past 40 years. From pre-microprocessor machines to the venerated IBM PC, each of these systems contributed in some way to the modern personal computing era.
Stop surfing the internet for a minute (we know, a tall order) and go get your last cable or satellite TV bill. Back? Good. Now skim to the bottom and look at the total amount of money you paid for TV last month. Do you feel like you got a reasonable amount of entertainment for that $60, $80, or even $100-plus? Are you happy about the money you spend for the privilege of watching TV? We’re not. The vast majority of TV we watch is available for free, over the air. Sure, we’ll occasionally watch an episode of Flight of the Conchords on HBO or a documentary on Discovery, but most of the TV we watch is on one of the big over-the-air networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, the CW, and NBC. So we started looking for alternatives.
It turns out that the vast majority of new TV shows are available online, either as part of an ad-driven website like Hulu or TV.com, or available for sale on iTunes or Amazon’s Unbox service. However, having a PC in the living room has traditionally sucked. After all, you don’t want to hear a big, noisy PC when you’re enjoying a movie or a TV show, and using a mouse and keyboard as the primary interface just doesn’t cut it when you’re kicking back on the couch. But times have changed. These days, it’s easy to build a PC that’s quiet enough to be virtually unheard, yet powerful enough to play all the high-definition video that’s currently available.
And making the proposition even more appealing, there are software frontends like Boxee and the new Hulu Desktop that let you harness all that hardware power in an easy-to-use, remote-friendly interface that combines the massive library of streaming video on the web with the DRM-free content you rip from discs or purchase legally on the web. We’ll introduce you to a couple of the options, then help you configure our favorite. By combining a few hundred bucks’ worth of hardware with a free software app and your broadband connection, you can reduce the money you spend on entertainment from $100 a month to $100 a year.
A sucker buys a new PC at the first signs of a slowdown. A savvy power user gives his aged PC a fighting chance for redemption. From tweaking your OS to compressing files to overclocking your videocard or CPU, there are plenty of ways to tune up a computer, and none require a trip to Bob’s House of New PCs. Follow along this step-by-step as we show you 21 of our favorite techniques for making a PC better, stronger, and faster — for free. These essential tweaks and tune-ups range from common-sense caretaking measures to practical adjustments that you'd be foolish to ignore. Combined, they release your PC's untapped potential and breathe new life into your system.
There are few things we like more than apps that enhance the Windows experience at no cost. In fact, we've already shown you the 32 essential programs that you must download with every clean install of Windows. But while those apps work great on their own, some killer programs and services perform even better when combined with other software. For example, Dropbox excels as a standalone application, but when used in concert with the little-known Mklink command, its potential is exponentially expanded. We call these unions "software mashups" -- the use of two apps for utility that's greater than the sum of their parts. Yes, 1 + 1 can equal 3. And the best part: every program in this feature is free.
Click through to learn how to augment Dropbox, automate Bittorrent, and even stick it to Apple!
We love the excitement of being on the cutting edge, but have to also acknowledge the risks of being early adopters of hardware. In fact, there have been numerous occasions where tech enthusiasts have put their faith into the seemingly fastest or the more innovative pieces of technology, only to be burned months or years later when that tech is revealed to have to a serious design flaw or falls victim to sudden obsolescence. In this roundup, we spotlight some of the most memorable PC parts and computing gadgets that showed huge promise but just didn’t deliver in the end. Whether it was high defect rates, underperformance, or bad launch timing, these products were poised to be market leaders if not for their spectacular failure.
How could the world's fastest optical drive be a failure? Read on!
Windows 7 has the potential to be the most imaging-friendly version of Windows yet developed. Windows 7 makes viewing JPEG and other common file formats easy, displays exposure metadata, and supports more viewing options than Windows XP, while offering better performance than Windows Vista. However, to get the maximum benefit from Windows 7, digital photographers will want to make two additions:
Installing RAW image support for their DSLR
Installing a photo organizer and editor
Wondering how to get RAW support for 64-bit versions of Windows 7? Not sure which free program (Windows Live Photo Gallery or Picasa) is better at fixing common digital photo problems? Looking for the best solution for organizing your rapidly growing digital photo collection? Join us after the jump for the answers.
RAM, like water, is a commodity. And just as there’s a clear difference between putrid L.A. County tap water and water choppered in from the peaks of Mt. Everest, the quality of RAM can vary wildly. But quality is not the sole factor to consider when you’re trying to achieve optimum memory performance from your system.
These days, a user is faced with a plethora of options spanning different technologies, speeds, and capacities. We’re here to help you make heads and tails of all that so you’re prepared when you configure your next rig. Armed with a slew of RAM-based benchmarks, we set out to answer three of the hottest questions in memory today: Is DDR3 for AMD’s new AM3 Phenom II CPUs worth the expense? Should you pay for high-speed RAM or stick with the standard stuff? Finally, just how much memory is enough? We test three common amounts of RAM for Intel’s Core i7 to identify the sweet spot.
So you’ve installed that shiny Ubuntu distro onto your PlayStation 3 and finagled a couple of cool applications to boot. And yet, there’s still a lot of empty real estate on that newly formatted hard drive, and you’re no doubt pondering what else you can load up on your now living room-friendly PC. Turns out, there are literally thousands of options available; but the task of sorting through the seemingly endless lists and testing each and every app to see if it suits your tastes and jives with the PS3 can be a daunting task. But luckily for you, we’ve done exactly that; we rolled up our sleeves, burned the midnight oil, and muscled the necessary digital elbow grease to whittle down the Ubuntu archives to the top nine absolute keepers. So what are you waiting for? Plug in your PS3’s keyboard and mouse, fire up Jaunty Jackalope, and read onward to get cracking.
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.