There are quite a number of tools out there for stretching the core functionality of your desktop in new directions. Some of these third-party replacements keep your standard setup and add a unique extension--like a 360-degree wallpaper that you can scroll through with mouse gestures. Fun stuff, huh? Other tools are a bit more comprehensive in their objectives, allowing for a total retrofit of very core of your desktop's operation. In these cases, gone are the typical organizational structures, options, and extensions you can pack into a Windows desktop--it's all brand-new and editable in ways you might have never previously thought were possible.
The best way to really get a feel for what's out there is to see it in action. So we're going to take a look at three unique desktop enhancement tools--one 3D, one shell replacement, and one widget-based service--and see just how they stack up versus the usability of the trusty Windows setup we've all come to know and love (or hate.)
AMD exploits a price point with the Radeon HD 5830, but the implementation is so weird, we’re scratching our heads.
If you’ve got $250 to burn for a graphics card, you’ll find a dearth of cards at that price point. Hit any of the major web retailers for PC gear looking for $250 cards, and you’ll find a couple of models of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 275 and… that’s it. The much faster Radeon HD 5850s are around $300, and you’ll find older GTX 260s and not much more.
AMD decided to fill the gap with the Radeon HD 5830. But the HD 5830 is a really odd duck. It’s slower than a Radeon HD 5850, but the reference implementation is huge – the same size as the Radeon HD 5870. The 5830 also consumes more power at full throttle than the HD 5850 – hence the larger cooler on the reference design.
Read on to find out all about the 5830's features, and how it did in our grueling benchmarks!
Security rivals thermal paste as the most important thing you have to keep in mind when building or using a system. Every bit of software on your PC should be updated; every external access point into your digital life, closed. There's no reason why you should be handing over the keys to the castle to random Internet strangers. Powerful virus protection, a strong firewall, and a bit of common sense -- among other tricks -- will go far to preserve your fortress of a system.
Now that's all well and good for the desktop in your living room, but what about third-party machines? We've all had to jump on a system over which we've had no control--no observance or administrative rights to ensure that every bit of the operating system checked out to ideal security standards. You can always head over the falls in a barrel and type your passwords and login credentials blindly, with no foresight or worries that you're inputting valuable information on a potentially infected machine. That, or you can do what I'd do: Make sure that your every keystroke and action is somehow safeguarded through the use of portable applications that you can carry on a storage device of your choice (cough USB key cough).
And that's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's Freeware Files: Five awesome portable apps that you can carry with you to increase your security presence on a PC that isn't yours. These aren't panaceas--you'll still want to be as critical and as cautious as you would previously. However, they're a step in the right direction toward (hopefully) a data-leak-free lifestyle.
At Maximum PC, computer hardware is our bread and butter. We review it, preview it, and just generally love to talk about it. Unfortunately, hardware becomes less important with each passing day, as more and more software moves onto the internet. We're not looking forward to the day that our PC's become Chrome OS-style thin client, but we have to admit, some web apps are pretty awesome.
So to help you prepare for a future in the cloud, we've put together a list of 30 of our favorite web apps and services. We've tried to keep them on the lesser-known side, but a few of the classic have snuck their way in. Check out our list, and then hit the comments and share your favorites.
Windows Explorer hasn't always been the most feature-packed of elements inside Microsoft's operating systems. Yet, oddly, it's probably the one part of your Windows version that you use most frequently. But that's not to say that everything is Microsoft's fault. We're often so quick to blame the software giant for what's more a lack of future-proofing than outright failure. In this case, Windows Explorer can't predict what's going to be the next big thing--it can't know that you'll want your photographs easily updated to Maximum Photos someday; it has no idea that you might somehow need to paste a direct link to a file instead of its name or containing folder.
Windows Explorer is, in a word, dumb.
But that's not what we're here to talk about. We're not going to sit around a table and lament about all the features Windows Explorer could have were you one, Bill Gates, and had access to an engineer, or two, or twenty thousand. We're going to go over all the unique little elements that you can build into Windows Explorer right this darn second. I can think of five off the top of my head that are useful additions to your standard interactions with your operating system. They're free, they're awesome, and they're yours for the taking after the jump!
Show of hands - how many of you are still clinging to Firefox not because it's the perfect browser, but because it's the best alternative out there to Internet Explorer? Probably a good many of you, and the reason why Firefox has been so hard to supplant as the No. 2 gateway to the Web is because Mozilla had the foresight to make it extensible. Thousands of add-ons exist allowing users to custom tailor the open-source browser however they see fit, and it only takes a few mouse clicks to do so.
Well move over Mozilla, and make room for Google Chrome. Why is that? To start with, Google recently added extension support to Chrome, which was previously only available in beta builds. Now that Google has given users the green light to install third-party add-ons, it's a brand new ballgame in the browser world. And in case you haven't heard, Chrome also supports Greasemonkey scripts, of which there are over 40,000 to choose from.
But those aren't the only reasons to give Chrome a second look. Google continues to tweak the underlying code and add features to what's already a fast, lean, and intelligent browser. Chrome is also highly tweakable, though you wouldn't know it by glancing at the sparse interface.
On the following pages, we'll show you how to soup up Chrome so you can leave Firefox in the rear view mirror and never look back!
It's astounding that until this moment, three years after the iPhone, the biggest software company in the world basically didn't compete in mobile. Windows Phone 7 Series is more than the Microsoft smartphone we've been waiting for. Everything's different now.
Yesterday, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft is publicly previewing Windows Phone 7 for the first time. The brand new, totally fresh operating system will appear in phones this year, but not until the holidays. All of the major wireless carriers and every likely hardware maker are backing it, and they'd be stupid not to. It's awesome. We've got a serious hands on for you to check out, but here is everything that you need to know:
The name—Windows Phone 7 Series—is a mouthful, and unfortunately, the epitome of Microsoft's worst naming instincts, belying the simple fact that it's the most groundbreaking phone since the iPhone. It's the phone Microsoft should've made three years ago. In the same way that the Windows 7 desktop OS was nearly everything people hoped it would be, Windows Phone 7 is almost everything anyone could've dreamed of in a phone, let alone a Microsoft phone. It changes everything. Why? Now that Microsoft has filled in its gaping chasm of suck with a meaningful phone effort, the three most significant companies in desktop computing—Apple, Google and Microsoft—now stand to occupy the same positions in mobile. Phones are officially computers that happen to fit in your pocket.
Windows Phone 7 is also something completely new for Microsoft: A total break from the past. Windows Mobile isn't just dead, the body's been dumped, buried and paved over by a rainbow brick road.
You and your home PC play hard – and sometimes, work hard. While you can grab some shuteye every night, and bid your PC goodbye when you head out the door for work, there's no need to give your PC half the day off. From scheduled FTP downloads to converting digital photos and more, here are the ten best ways to keep your PC busy so it won't miss you when you're gone. Downtime be damned!
Music, music everywhere, and a ton of programs with which to organize it. But how will you know which of the many iTunes-equivalents (if not iTunes itself) are going to be right for your needs?
If you're one of the many people using Windows' default music libraries to organize and store your files, stop. Just stop. There's so much more you can do beyond that-which-is-given by Windows Media Player's library features, it's not even funny. Conversely, if you're one of the people who clings to Apple's iTunes with a death grip by virtue of it being one of the first big music organizing tools to really "stick" amongst the general geek population... you might be in good hands. You also might be missing out on a ton of additional functionality, depending on what you're looking for and how you typically go about rocking out on your computer.
To keep the playing field fair, we'll look at three different applications in this ultimate guide to media organizing: iTunes, Songbird, and Zune. For those keeping score at home, that's one big solution from Apple, one big solution from Microsoft, and one big solution from the open-source community. There are certainly other options around--Foobar comes to mind as one such example. None are as comprehensive in their combination of features and/or customizability as these three, however. They're all easy to install and easy to set up, but which application has the features and usability that'll make it a hit?
Can we use Windows 7's new fast-boot capability and BIOS optimizations to get to the desktop in less than 30 seconds?
If you’re the kind of person who fumes at the microwave because it takes so long to nuke popcorn, you probably can’t stand the plodding boot of your PC, either.
And who can blame you? Time spent waiting for first the BIOS and then Windows to come to life is time that could have been spent working, gaming, or surfing the web.
Microsoft’s claim that Windows 7 could boot (from the BIOS) in 11 seconds first gave us the hope that such idle time might be lessened dramatically, but being Maximum PC we wanted to take the idea even further. We sought to not only replicate Microsoft’s claim, but to see how much time we could shave prior to the OS loading, with a combination of hardware and BIOS tweaks. Our ultimate goal: to have a machine up and running within 30 seconds of hitting the power switch.
So if your attention deficit disorder hasn’t already caused you to click to the next story, find out how we were able to achieve the shortest boot possible.