It's difficult to envision a life without email. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Suffice, digital messaging is just a fact of geek life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Whether your inbox gets flooded with messages like the Nile during rainy season, or it's barren as one of those outback wastelands that Bear Grylls likes to visit, you probably aren't using your email client of choice to its fullest potential.
That's ok. Neither was I before undertaking the research for this week's open-source and freeware roundup. But now that I have seen the light, as it were, I would never go back to the ol' vanilla installations of Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or whatever one's particular email utility of choice happens to be. There are just too many interesting ways to tweak and alter the normal email experience to better enhance your ability to read, organize, and shuffle your messages.
That's kind of "the big point" of the roundup this week--making your email work better for you. Click the jump, and I'll show you five apps and utilities for taking your email processing to the next level!
Batteries are everywhere. They’re in our phones, mice, cars, laptops, game machines, controllers, remotes, cameras—you name it. Battery technology influences the design, capabilities, and feature set of nearly everything portable, from laptops and cell phones to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Most of the batteries in our lives are rechargeable, and our more eco-aware world is quickly replacing standard alkaline AA and AAA batteries with rechargeable equivalents. Still, few people know how all these batteries work or how to best take care of them.
We’re going to focus on common rechargeable battery types, but before we get into that we should cover a few basics about how batteries work and go over common terms.
Whether you own an iPod touch, Zune HD, Nintendo DSi, or any number of other portable devices, there's one tool that makes easy work out of ripping DVDs and converting incompatible video files into manageable formats: Handbrake. This wonderful utility has just about everything you could ask for, including robust compatibility, a slick interface, and snappy performance. And if that weren't enough, the developers have chosen to give the program away for free, no strings (or trialware) attached.
We realize we're probably preaching to the choir and there's a good chance you've used Handbrake before, if not frequently. But do you know how to create, backup, and transfer your own custom settings for the Xbox 360, PS3, and other popular media players not included by default? Do you know how to encode a copy protected DVD with the least amount off fuss? We do, and on the following pages, we'll guide you through a series of advanced tips for getting the most out of Handbrake.
In our last router roundup, way back in November 2007, we wrote, “We’re months away from a final IEEE 802.11n standard.” We never imagined that months would stretch into nearly two years before that standards body would finally finish ironing out all the details. But now that the spec has been ratified, 802.11n routers abound—and their prices have dropped dramatically.
Back then, the average price of the 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers that we reviewed—all of which had single-band radios—was $130. The average street price of the six single-band 802.11n routers in this batch has dropped to less than half that. The even better news is that the cheapest router in this roundup also delivered the best real-world performance.
You’ll want to consider features as well as benchmark numbers, of course. If you have complex routing requirements, you’ll want a model with tweaker-friendly firmware. And if you rely on VoIP for telephone service, play online games, or stream video over your wireless network while downloading files using BitTorrent, you’ll want a router with robust quality-of-service features. One of the models we tested allows you to share a printer over your network; another boasts advanced parental-control features.
And then there’s the certification issue to consider: Each of the routers in this roundup implements features of the IEEE 802.11n standard, but not all of them carry the Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11n certification logo. We’ll go into more detail about this in our buyers guide.
Read on for our full review of six of the latest mainstream 802.11n routers on the market.
As Nvidia struggles to get its first Fermi based graphics card, code-named GF100, AMD just keeps rolling out new versions. With the Radeon HD 5670, AMD pushes into $100 territory.
Classically, cards in this price range offered capable 2D graphics, high quality video and very limited 3D gaming performance. Let’s start by comparing the feature sets of the various AMD DX11 cards, which should give us some idea as to capabilities.
I've been a stalwart user of TweetDeck for all my 140-character messaging needs for quite some time now. But that's the problem with having a favorite freeware program: Your devotion to a tried-and-true application could be preventing you from reaching out and discovering a program that does an even better job. I mean, TweetDeck--awesome as can be--sure isn't perfect. There are a few features I wish I could get my hands on and, conversely, a few features I wish I could excise from the program with one almighty keystroke.
So all this got me thinking. I cover a lot of apps in these weekly Freeware Files roundups. But apps typically go through a number of changes throughout their lifespans. For better or worse, not every app is always going to look like it does when it's been profiled in a Freeware Files column. And with new programs entering the freeware fray at all times, what's a great recommendation one day might turn out to be an average or dull recommendation the next.
So, instead of just profiling five different Twitter apps this week, I'm going to make this more of a challenge. TweetDeck has been a top Twitter application on the market for some time now. What has it been up to since we last took a look at the software. More importantly, what other apps have risen the occasion to challenge--or topple--this killer program?
Nvidia’s latest generation GPU is going through the most painful, drawn out gestation period since the company’s first programmable GPU, the GeForce 5800 series. Like the more recent GeForce 280 GTX, the current GF100 (the code name, not the final name) chip represents a major, ground-up architectural redesign.
Recently, we spent the better part of a day being briefed on the GF100, which represents the first actual graphics processor built with Nvidia’s Fermi architecture. The basic Fermi architecture layers graphics functionality atop a powerful parallel compute engine. As GPU compute becomes more important, both in games and in certain classes of mainstream applications, it makes sense to build an architecture that builds more general purpose capability.
But that’s not to say that Fermi will try to take on the functions of a mainstream CPU.
Five minutes here, a lunch break there, the urge to procrastinate. The free browser-based Flash game has evolved with the technology, producing some high-quality time-killers that can interrupt the most productive of days. With volume comes choices. But you don’t want to waste time browsing—you need the definitive go-to guide to the best of what’s out there. We did the leg (hand and mouse) work for you. Many sites collect hundreds of these free games—check out Kongregate.com, Armorgames.com, Gamebrew.com, as examples—but scan our list and you’ll be on the road to fun, free entertainment in no time. Plus, for a hint of nostalgia, or to get your feet wet with casual gaming, spend some quality time with classics of the genre, collected in our list of all-time favorites.
Does your favorite time-wasting game make the list?
Ripping a CD or DVD is one of the most basic tasks for a PC user. But you need the right tools if you want to automate the process. Current ripping programs incorporate video encoding, tagging, and subtitles management. There's no single app that will do everything, so here are our picks for the best Linux apps for ripping audio CDs and video DVDs.
There are also a few things you'll need to do before downloading these apps.
The games are played, the votes are tallied, and our crack team of vote tabulators has tabulated the results. We’ve played literally hundreds of games this year—big games, small games, good games, and games that just plain sucked—solely for the purpose of presenting you, our adoring audience, with the undisputed list of the finest moments, experiences, and surprises in gaming for the year 2009. Without further ado, we now commence Maximum PC’s Gaming Awards!