I just picked up a new netbook the other day. And you know what that netbook had? A lot of things, but "optical drive" wasn't on the list. So there I sat, staring at a stack of CDs all full of my most critical applications, games, and movies. Then I had a brainstorm: Rather than run down to the local electronics store to buy a lame external optical drive, I figured I would convert all of my optical media and slap it onto one of the external hard drives I have sitting around.
To do that, I turned to a suite of applications to rip, burn, encode, convert, and create all sorts of image files. It was a daunting task at first, but it sure beat shelling out for more hardware. Based on my troubles, I've come up with a list of five of the must-have applications for your CD manipulation needs. And these aren't just a list of applications for new netbook enthusiasts. These free apps have a universal appeal for anyone who's ever had to interact with their optical drive at any point. I would assume that this would make up 99% of all computer users--the one percent being anyone who just bought a new netbook without any kind of secondary system in their house. Whoops!
Click on the link and check out the five free apps for CD manipulation mayhem. Trust me, it's just that exciting.
So you've just downloaded that hip new open-source replacement for your favorite paid-for application and you're ready to crack it open and unleash all the awesome community-driven features contained inside. Well, if this application is Songbird, you might want to hold off for a moment. A recent blog post by the application's developers has revealed that the media player's iPod add-on does more than just transfer music to your device. It also has the potential to corrupt or otherwise delete music straight from your hardware device. Yikes!
Bugs are the bane of any software, but they can especially affect the open-source world in unpleasant ways. Read on to find out what we mean -- but first, unplug your iPod!
The competition between open-source projects and retail applications is a never-ending struggle. Even when two products aren't in direct competition -- like Adobe's Photoshop versus the GNU Manipulation Program -- there's still an underlying push and pull for your attention and resources. The struggle only deepens when the retail version of the two programs approaches an inexpensive or free pricing model. Open-source is an alternative, but when is it the better alternative?
Open-source software developer Patrick McKenzie wrote a post recently about the various ways retail software developers can out-develop open-source alternatives to their products. While it was geared toward the perspective of an open-source creator, he nevertheless gave some good insight as to what differentiates quality open-source projects from the muck. And a number of his points apply to some of the very applications we've recommended in our weekly freeware/open-source roundups.
Click the jump to find out how the best open-source applications get their crowns!
Dell teased us with a brief showing of their new Adamo laptop line at this year's CES, but after that first peek, we were all left hanging with only a mysterious website to satiate our curiosity. Today, Dell has finally officially announced the Adamo notebook line, which they call a "luxury brand notebook designed for the luxury conscious consumer." We got to play with the Adamo at a recent press preview meeting, and can confirm that this beauty is indeed luxurious -- easily worthy of envy. We have a ton of Adamo unboxing and close-up photos after the jump, but here are the technical details that you care about:
Adamo's launch models are 13.4" inches (screen resolution is 1366x768) , priced at $1999 for a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U9300 with integrated Intel X4500 video, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, and 128GB SSD running a custom skinned Vista 64-bit. Dell has also custom skinned the Bios to match the Adamo aesthetic.
External hard drives (up to 500GB) and Blu-Ray drives are also available, both of which match Adamo's styling.
Dell told us that Battery life rated at 4 hours, even though the press release states 5+.
Physically, the Adamo measures only .65" thick (thinner than the Voodoo Envy), and weighs in at 4 pounds. Aside from the Dell and Adamo logos, the notebook's rigid surface --made from aircraft grade aluminum -- bears no other unsightly marks or stickers. Even the Windows authenticity sticker is hidden in a magnetic cover in the back.
Built-in ports include 2 USB (with power share, so you can charge devices even when Adamo is off), one eSATA/USB combo port, Display Port, RJ-45 (Wireless N is included), and a SIM card slot for mobile broadband. The Adamo has no Express Card slot nor microphone jack, though a tiny mic is embedded to the left of the keyboard.
The Adamo is now available for preorder, shipping March 24th in Pearl and Onyx colors. A $2700 model is also available in foreign countries, and sports a 1.4GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a built-in 3G wireless card.
Read on for our large gallery of unboxing and hands-on photos.
In the past year and a half, solid state drives have come from nowhere to take their place as the Next Big Thing in storage, especially in notebooks. The MacBook Air and the Asus Eee PC and OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop Per Child) netbooks were among the first consumer notebooks to utilize solid state drives. While SSDs are still most popular in netbooks, they have begun appearing in more mainstream notebooks and even high-end desktops.
SSDs have much higher read speeds than traditional drives, and with no moving parts, they’re more durable. They’re not susceptible to magnetic interference or vibration, and they use less power and run much more quietly than standard magnetic hard drives. Best of all, they come in standard 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch formfactors with SATA connectors and emulate traditional drives, so they’re compatible with existing architecture. Unfortunately, they’re also orders of magnitude more expensive per megabyte, thus limiting widespread adoption, at least for now.
Although the fastest solid state drives use DRAM for storage (with a battery backup to preserve data), this White Paper will focus on flash-based SSDs—the variety most commonly found in consumer gear.
The beauty of a Live CD is that it gives you a chance to access your computer or a batch of alternate applications without actually having to load up your operating system. You only need to pop the CD into your optical drive and boot it up from your BIOS -- this self-contained environment runs independent of anything that's located on your drive partitions, even though you can still perform a variety of tasks that manipulate the data on your drives.
For example, you can test our new Linux distributions using a Live CD, saving you the time and hassle of blanking an entire partition just to see if it's the right distribution for you. You can also manipulate the partitions of your drives using a Live CD, expanding and creating volumes to create alternate locations for new operating systems, files, or whatever it is you'd use a separate volume for. Live CDs are great for troubleshooting your system (or saving your data) when your primary operating system won't boot, and they can also be used to break through Windows installations that you've lost the password for.
All that functionality... and you don't even have to install a single program on your machine! Click the link to check out some of the best Live CDs that you should have sitting on your desk.
For more than a decade, Adobe Photoshop has been the de facto image-editing program used by professionals and art students alike. But there are plenty of casual users who only dabble with Photoshop for simple tasks, such as photo resizing and cropping -- oblivious to the sheer power of Photoshop's graphics manipulation abilities. These decidedly non-power users (and we know some of you are included in this group) can do so more with this versatile program -- and we're here to show you how.
Whether you've just installed Photoshop for the first time or know your away around a the Tools toolbar, we put together a few of the most essential Photoshop skills to get you started on your photo editing endeavors. Before you know it, you'll be fixing up your grandmother's torn-up black and white wedding photos and airbrushing the heck out of yourself for your Facebook photo.
It's been far too long since we've run a Parts and Price Guide on the website, but we're now ready to get back into the groove of monthly component recommendations for your next PC build. This month, we're starting off with a $1000 PC. You'll be surprised at how much power and storage you can get for a grand -- even we're hesitant to call it a mere budget rig. In the following weeks, we'll also be running guides for $1500, $2000 systems, and will even try assembling and benchmarking a $500 configuration for the really budget-conscious (the troubled economy pretty much mandates it!). But for now, take a dive into our choices for a respectable system, and sound off on how you would build your PC differently!
Today, hard drive manufacturer Seagate and chip manufacturer AMD unveil the first tech demo of Serial ATA Revision 3.0, which boasts transfer rates of up to six gigabits per second, twice the speed of the current SATA spec. The specification, which was announced by the Serial ATA International Organization last August, will appear in hardware starting later this year.
SATA 6Gb/s comes several years before Seagate estimates it will be needed for standard hard drives, but, as we reported last year, several current-gen SSDs are already bumping against the 3Gb/s limit of the current spec.
It's hard to find good freeware games that are original, but not overly wacky. A lot of the more unique titles can tend to be a little esoteric--they don't offer your traditional platform gaming or simulated RPG, instead opting for a crazy mix of minimalist design and weird gameplay. It sometimes works, but more often than not, these games fall to freeware's version of the bargain bin.
That's not the case today, however! We've scoured the Web to find some awesome free hits that represent a good mix of zany and traditional gameplay elements. In this roundup, you'll become a historian, play a card game, recreate your favorite Steam experiences in 2D, and shoot down enemy planes. It's a tall order, but we think that you're up for the task. Click the jump and check out the unique titles we're showcasing in this five-game freeware roundup!