There was a time when home automation was a toy only for the wealthy (for whom it worked because they could afford the incredibly expensive hardware) or the extremely geeky (for whom it sometimes worked because the hardware they could afford was reasonably priced but buggy— we’re talking about you, X10). Belkin hopes to change that with its WeMo line.
Note: This article was originally featured in the May 2013 issue of the magazine.
Budget is as budget does, but Silverstone’s RL04 just feels incomplete—or ill-designed—across a number of key areas. We suppose this case is worth looking into if you’re tired of running all your parts and pieces on an open-air design—as in, propped up on cardboard boxes or Styrofoam. Otherwise, it’s worth your while to explore some of the other cases in the sub-$80 category; the RL04 just isn’t all that compelling.
Note: This review was taken from the May issue of the magazine.
Update: Leaked Intel Roadmap Reveals New Batch of Haswell Chips
Faster hardware shouldn’t be this somber. Yet we can’t help but furrow our brow in concern over Intel’s fourth-generation Core i7 CPU. Yes, in typical Intel fashion, it’s a tour de force of technical achievement and features that’s the envy of the free world. It’s also, by the way, quite fast.
How fast? *Spoiler alert* Let’s just say that the new Core i7-4770K easily unseats the previous midrange sweetheart, the Core i7-3770K, as the best all-around performer, and even gives the high-end hexa-core part a hard time.
Just before the release of the GeForce GTX Titan this month, AMD held a conference call with tech media to reiterate its position in the market today, its plans going forward, and to drive home one particular point: AMD has the fastest hardware available, period. At the time of the call, we thought, “Well, that’s debatable.” But AMD pressed on, and further clarified its position by stating that the Asus Ares II was the fastest GPU available, bar none. Since most of us on the call hadn’t seen that card, and most people never will since only 999 were produced, we didn’t dispute the claim, nor did we have the data to know if the claim was correct. Well, about a week later, the card arrived from Asus and now that we’ve run the benchmarks, it looks like AMD was telling the truth—the Ares II is without a doubt the fastest single-card GPU available. So step aside, Nvidia GeForce GTX 690, there’s a new sheriff in town, and it’s not only faster in benchmarks, it runs cooler and quieter, to boot.
Note: This review was originally featured in the April 2013 issue of the magazine.
Razer Surround: Can virtual surround sound software do the job of a real 7.1 headset?
Razer Surround is a program for gamers to get surround sound in any pair of headphones, be itRazer or otherwise. That’s right, install it and Razer claims that you’ll have “the best virtual 7.1 channel surround sound experience [possible] with any stereo headphones.”
The half-eviscerated zombie of first-person shooters
Perhaps if poor Isaac Clarke had been able to switch parts with the late Isaac Hayes, Dead Space 3 might have been a bit less boring. At this point, we’d gladly throw in a few Chef-like wisecracks just to liven up the game a tad—might as well rename this one “Dull Space 3.”
Note: This review was taken from the May 2013 issue of the magazine.
The Fujifilm X20 proves that compact digicams aren’t dead yet
Why buy a compact digital camera these days when every smartphone and tablet has a built-in camera? Amateurs and even some professionals are making impressive pictures with phonecams. Phones are almost always handy, and downloadable apps make them infinitely customizable. Just as digital cameras have all but killed film, now phonecams threaten to kill digital cameras—or at least the compact digicams, leaving DSLRs alive for those occasions when nothing but the best will do.
Even the most diehard fan boy can admit AMD’s not in the hunt against Intel’s top-end processors—well the reasonable one’s anyway.
That doesn’t mean AMD still can’t give Intel a hard time. While AMD can’t compete with the Core i7-3970X or even the Core i7—4770K, the company’s rush to merge CPU and GPU to make the APU has put more pressure on Intel than Intel would probably want to admit.
Fails to execute as a simulation or strategic shooter
When we see a gangster game come out—especially one that blends our love of building a true, bootleggy, 1930s-style criminal empire with our zest for shooting thugs with poorly executed Italian accents—we get a little anxious. It’s true. Give us a game that looks like a cross between Theme Park and Mafia and we’ll be set for quite a long while, cackling with glee as we outrun the cops in old-timey cars while trying to deliver our bootlegged booze to our various speakeasies.
Note: This review was taken from the April issue of the magazine.