A few years ago, SUVs were riding high, with throngs of the massive gas-guzzlers clogging the highways. Compact cars were considered wimpy and passé. Fast-forward to the present day and suddenly small is back in style. It’s not the size that matters, as the saying goes, it’s what you do with it. Since the advent of Asus’s Eee PC, manufacturers have been racing to bring tiny, low-powered laptops, also known as netbooks, to the market. You probably won’t use a netbook as your primary computer: limited storage space, integrated graphics, and the lack of an optical drive make them unsuitable for any really intensive tasks. But as small, eminently portable word-processing and Internet-browsing devices, netbooks hit the price/performance sweet spot for many people. By the end of 2008, more than 8 million netbooks will have been shipped.
In just the past several months, the netbook market has gone from nonexistent to immense, with dozens of models out already, most of them built around Intel’s low-voltage Atom processor, but some on VIA’s C7-M.
For this roundup, we chose three Atom-based netbooks running XP from three different vendors at three different price points to determine what this new category of portable PCs is capable of and how much price figures into performance. Ultimately, we aim to answer whether this new breed of portable PC is something we should even care about.
We know, you just got your rig right where you want it, complete with a primo CPU, a kick-ass videocard config, and seemingly limitless storage. So forgive us if we dangle the temptation of better, faster hardware in front of your face. We’re just doing our job. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been grilling our industry contacts for news of what computing delights await power users in the months and years to come. And delightful the future is: CPUs with eight cores, GPUs that run games as a pastime, mobos with both SLI and CrossFire support, and hard drives so large your data will feel puny and inadequate. And that’s just part of it.
Look at it this way: Our 2009 technology preview gives you advance warning about the hardware that will soon occupy your dreams, so you can start saving your pennies and plotting your next upgrade path today.
As we get ready to celebrate the end of 2008 and start of 2009, it's important to put down the champagne glasses for a moment and consider all of the big open-source stories that have come across over the past year. There have been a lot. In fact, we've even gone and chronicled some of the bigger stories for you already. If you haven't checked it out yet, do so. Like watching The Empire Strikes Back before A New Hope, you'll be lost if you read on much further. That's because we're now taking a look at what's in store for the open-source world in 2009.
We'll get to the specific predictions in a big, but here's the big picture: the open-source software world is on the up, up, up. We called this out in a news article awhile ago once the economy started taking a dive. Guess what? The economy's still taking a dive, and companies long and far are taking an increased interest in the open-source community. That's because open-source solutions can help them generate cost savings over expensive, proprietary software without a loss of business quality or functionality. And that translates into increased opportunities for open-source developers -everybody wins! Unless you're Microsoft and think the entire affair is rubbish. But enough of that... onto the predictions!
Click the link to jump into the open-source world of 2009!
Can a computer exist without hardware? It can if it’s a virtual machine. A virtual machine is software that’s capable of executing programs as if it were a physical machine—it’s a computer within a computer. Virtual machines can be divided into two broad categories: process virtual machines and system virtual machines.
A process virtual machine is limited to running a single program. A system virtual machine, on the other hand, enables one computer to behave like two or more computers by sharing the host hardware’s resources. A system virtual machine consists entirely of software, but an operating system and the applications running on that OS see a CPU, memory, storage, a network interface card, and all the other components that would exist in a physical computer. For the remainder of this discussion, we’ll use the term “virtual machine” to refer to a system virtual machine.
Software running on a virtual machine is limited to the resources and abstract hardware that the virtual machine provides. Since a virtual machine can provide a complete instruction set architecture (ISA, a definition of all the data types, registers, address modes, external input/output, and other programming elements that a given collection of hardware is capable of working with), a virtual machine can simulate hardware that might not even exist in the physical world.
Using virtual machines, a computer can run several iterations of an operating system—or even several different operating systems—with each OS isolated from and oblivious to the existence of the others. The only requirement is that each operating system must be capable of supporting the underlying hardware. And, of course, there must be enough resources (memory, hard disk space, CPU cycles, and so on) to support everything. You could use a virtual machine to run Linux on top of Windows, for instance, or you could run two versions of Windows and use one as a sandbox for testing software you wouldn’t trust on a “real” machine.
We're taking a look at Web page creation tools in this week's freeware/open-source roundup. And let's face it, the task sounds daunting: making a Web page, that is. Finding the programs is the easy part. There are a ton of authoring tools out on the Interwebs, but therein lies the problem. You don't want to have to burrow through 30 different applications to find the one that matches your experience level. And if you're completely new to HTML/CSS, you're going to want the most bare-bones, easy-to-use application you can find for making your first big online "Hello World!"
We've scoured through a number of programs to find the best applications for helping you make that picture-perfect Web page. From HTML creation, to file uploading, to validating, our choices represent a batch of must-have programs. Depending on your experience level, you might not need all five before you have your own variant of Maximumpc.com up and running. But everyone should be able to find something they need in our treasure trove of Web tools.
As 2008 winds to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the year's highlights in the open-source world. And what a year it's been! Google phones and the android operating system finally saw the light. The semi-popular MMO Myst decided to go entirely open source, the genre's first "conversion." And Microsoft--yes, Microsoft--decided to embrace open-source development with one hand while chastising it with the other.
We're rounding up all of the year's top stories from every source we can get our hands on. Click the link and let's get started with 2008's top open-source news!
Stop. You had us at oil submersed motherboard, CPU and GPUs. You didn’t even have to dunk the SSDs, PSU or create a custom motherboard and bullet resistant tank too to convince us that you’re really hard core, umm, Hardcore.
Of course, if you stare too hard at the tank, you’ll miss all the heavenly glory that the Hardcore PC truly is. From its beautiful aluminum case, to its top port routing and the easy to access hard drives, every centimeter of the machine oozes custom computing. And we can honestly say that after tinkering with the most exotic PCs available on Earth for a decade now. What Hardcore is trying to do is so over the top that no one has ever tried it before on a production machine.
But before Hardcore can ascend to take its place among the top performance PC makers, there are an awful lot of questions to answer. Like can they really make and sell these babies for how much the company claims it can? Does it really work? To find the answer to that read on.
It was a herculean task. Team Maximum PC at this year’s Comic-Con International consisted of only two people, and there was no way we could attend every packed panel at the event. So instead of bringing you movie and television panel reports you’ve probably already read on SlashFilm or AintitCoolNews, we wanted to be your eyes on the show floor. And that meant showing you what stood out most in the 500,000sq ft space of the main exhibit hall: the cosplayers. Our quest to document as many unabashed costumed geeks as we could find yielding 400 photographs of comic-book, anime, fantasy, science fiction, and film characters. We saw dozens of jokers and batmen, numerous video game-inspired outfits, and even steampunk-era Ghostbusters. The impressive level of creativity and enthusiasm that we saw in these cosplayers was an awesome reminder of why we love geek culture. We hope you can appreciate it as well.
Click through for, yes, all four hundred photos -- each in thumbnail and full-rez formats. Can you name all of the characters?
We’ve heard the phrase “visual computing” being used a lot lately – it refers to the use of computers and graphical environments to interact with and manipulate heady data sets and other textbookish content. Well, we’ve encountered one of the most visually stunning and impressive examples of visual computing in San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium, the new $20 million dollar facility that’s a part of the recently reopened California Academy of Sciences. This isn’t your daddy’s planetarium (nor is it Barack Obama’s famous $3 million dollar star charter, either).
The Morrison Planetarium is a technological marvel, enabling astronomers not only to show traditional star charts, but to guide visitors through an immersive fly-through of our universe – realistically rendered in real-time. We were fortunate enough to be invited for a private screening of the new exhibit, and went behind to scenes to check out exactly what PC hardware drives this modern stellar cartography lab. And before you ask – yes, the system can play Quake.
We'll guide you through a tour of the planetarium, show you what visitors get to experience in the amazing digital presentation, and then walk you behind the scenes for an exclusive look at how the tech gods who built the whole system make it work. Trust us, you'll be impressed.
As power users, we all know how awesome a PC can be. After all, we’ve built and fine-tuned our rigs with an eye toward maximum capability. And as a result of our tinkering we know with stone-cold certainty the killer frame rates we can achieve, the mad multitasking we can accomplish, and the sheer speed at which we can get common computing chores done. All very important matters, to be sure. But perhaps it’s time to broaden our horizons and look at the lesser-known ways our computers can empower us. Whether it’s by helping us develop new talents or ply a new trade or expand our technical savvy, our rigs hold the key to limitless possibilities. Don’t believe us? Well, read on.