Corel updates Video Studio, releases V7

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 11th 2014 | Discuss (0)
Categories: Software Review
Tags: corel video studio v7

Corel has long been a contender on the video front, and it has helped to thin out the ranks with its acquisition of Ulead, Intervideo, Roxio, and Pinnacle. The company’s release in 2012 V6 was a major upgrade. This latest release, V7, bats cleanup, but it also solidifies some of the changes introduced in 2012 and it’s a good opportunity to look at how Corel is addressing the booming and difficult video market. Right now, I should say that the feature I really love and use frequently is Screen Capture. Using it as a standalone module, you can capture a sequence…

Chromecast TV dongle

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 8th 2013 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: google netflix dongle chrome chromecast youtube

Our friends at Vivante got a Chromecast for us (their GC 1000 graphics core is inside the Marvell DE3005-A1 SoC), and we gave it a go. Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that plugs into a TV or monitor. It’s a good thing we got this when we did; they’re flying off the shelves, and Amazon has back-ordered the things.  We plugged it into a not-smart HDTV, and the TV never saw it. We thought we had a dud and called Vivante. Prateek Pujara, who has tested several of the units, suggested we plug it into a monitor, so we did.…

New Features in Lightroom 5 Beta

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 15th 2013 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags: adobe lightroom cloud

Just before the kick-off of Adobe Max, Adobe released its latest version of Lightroom, its photo management product, as the Lightroom V5 beta. Lightroom is designed for photographers and it is as much a basic editing tool as it is an organization tool. For many people for whom Photoshop might be overkill, Lightroom may have just enough editing for most work; it has crop, straighten, exposure, color, sharpness, and lens correction. The V5 version is not necessarily a significant release, but there are several features decidedly nice and two that make the release a must-have for users of Lightroom. So, not…

The HTC One X+: A review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 30th 2013 | Permalink
Categories:
Tags: nvidia graphics qualcomm mt. tiburon testing tegra htc one x+

The latest object of serious geek lust is the HTC One X+, the successor to the somewhat adored One. The phones are identical and they look nice. They are a critical bit bigger than most other phones, and especially the iPhone 4s, and OMG they have Beats audio. The latest version is available in flat black. The HTC One X+ features the Tegra 3 1.7-GHz quad-core processor and 64GB of internal memory. It has a 1 GB of RAM. Offsetting that huge advantage in storage is the lack of an SD slot, but in emergencies you can add USB memory with…

The Surface is a start

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 12th 2012 | Permalink
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Is Microsoft too far behind to catch up? Microsoft’s Surface has finally arrived, and we have finally gotten around to writing a review of the new tablet designed to be an Apple killer. It’s just as well; we’re late, we’re slow learners, and we’ve been using the Surface Tablet as a working tool rather than the traditional, tear open the box, run benchmarks, write the review, and toss the thing aside to review the next thing. We don’t think that’s a valid approach for the Surface, or any tablet device, really. There aren’t that many available benchmarks, for one thing. Most…

Adobe Edge

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 9th 2012 | Permalink
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A sign of the times Adobe has opened the door to all its content creation products with its new subscription model. The company says one of the reasons it has done this is so it can introduce cool stuff as it’s ready. They can feed new technology out to users and gauge how people like it, or how they will decide to use it and then they can fine-tune it. The company has been offering new technology up for testing and comment through its labs, and it’s doing even more through subscription with bonus programs and technologies. Adobe Edge is one…

Review: of Lightroom 4 builds on a successful legacy - Adobe adds features for consumers

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 16th 2012 | Permalink
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Photo organizing tools have evolved over the years to provide many more capabilities besides simple organization and editing. They have become workflow tools that many photographers use as their sole processing application. There are plenty of free or low cost tools available that can handle the simple task of managing data with simple editing, rating, geotagging, uploading etc. Among those tools are Google’s Picasa, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Apple’s iPhoto, Corel’s Paint Shop Pro, and Adobe’s Element line of consumer tools. Stepping up a bit, Adobe’s Bridge tool which comes with its content creation products is a magnificent organizational tool for…

Sony’s proto-ultrabook will be a hard act to follow

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 3rd 2012 | Permalink
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Some people just can’t wait to have an Ultrabook. Me, for instance. And if you’re not willing to wait for the crop of competively-priced new machines that are just being dusted off and readied for the store floor, the choice has been between an Apple Air and a Vaio. There are strong arguments in both directions, I personally like the Apple environment and tools and I do much of my creative work on the Mac, but the Vaio called to me. There are still minor issues when working in an otherwise Windows work environment. Both the Apple Air and the Sony…

Adobe apps — works in progress

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 11th 2011 | Permalink
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Adobe has come to the market with a raft of new apps for the tablet. They are useful to varying degrees but they all cost $9.99. Now, $9.99 is not a lot of money but it is a little high for an app and Adobe’s new apps vary quite a bit when it comes to usefulness and features. The app list looks like this: Photoshop Touch—a scaled down version of Photoshop optimized for touch and designed primarily for content creation. Collage—a brainstorming tool that lets people gather visual elements together on a work board to try out concepts. Kuler—a color picking…

Egnyte makes cloud storage a business

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 11th 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
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Dropbox, Sugar Sync, OpenDrive, Mozy, Egnyte ... there are quite a few options for cloud storage services, but Egnyte hopes to stand out with security and management as well as competitive pricing. The company is a startup founded in 2008. They’ve made a big introduction at CloudBeat 2011 where they showed off their latest product, which adds integration with Salesforce.com. Egnyte has a hybrid cloud product that offers flexibility over how customers want to store and share their data. There is a local storage option to allow constant access to important files even when not online—data syncs automatically. In the Online…

Review Amimon WHDI: Remote HDTV from your PC

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 28th 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: graphics gaming review computers

Israeli based Amimon developed WHDI (Wireless High-definition Interface) chipsets. A fabless semiconductor company, Amimom established the WHDI concept for uncompressed wireless HD video for CE video devices. WHDI allows flat-panel televisions and multimedia projectors to wirelessly connect to HDTV video sources and obtain a quality equivalent to that achieved with wired interfaces such as component video, DVI and HDMI, or so says the company. The company’s modules and reference designs are for the 5GHz unlicensed band of uncompressed HD video streams, and offer equivalent video data rates of up to 3 Gbps (including 1080p) using 40 MHz of bandwidth in compliance…

The tablet is a blank slate - Review ArtRage for Apple iPad

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 1st 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags: graphics review software ipad art

Steve Jobs is not always right and in fact, he was totally wrong when he dismissed the idea of a stylus for his devices because among all the other things the iPad does well — remote control, movie player, presentation platform, and best friend on a lonely Saturday night — the iPad is turning out to be a really great piece of paper. We have downloaded several drawing program for the iPad and every single one of them is good. Just the current list of drawing tools on my computer includes Brushes, by Steve Sprang: $7.99; Auto­desk SketchBook Pro: $4.99; Adobe…

Android vs. Android vs. Android

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 18th 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: mobile iphone benchmark g2x droid smartphone

A look at the Motorola Droid 2, LG G2X, Sony Ericsson Experia Play We’re swimming in Android phones right now. We have a (slightly) older Droid 2 that’s actually in use as my working phone, a brand new Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, and an LG G2X. The Droid 2 is a Verizon phone and the G2X and Xperia Play are from T-Mobile. The three phones are very different and they’re aimed at very different users, but there are some basic similarities too. The Droid 2 and the G2X are both based on the Android 2.2 operating system. The Xperia Play is…

The systems works; Revue reviewed again

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 21st 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: tv review television google revue

We've been revisiting the Logitech Revue after it's been in the house and operating for several months now. In fact, if we had the time or the organizational skills it would make sense to have second takes on most of the products we review. The first review tends to be a look at getting a system set up and working and so, even if that's not what you want to really talk about, the set up experience colors the review. Especially if it was a complicated set up. All of which brings us to the Logitech Revue, a set-top box implementation…

Corel Video Studio Pro Review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 25th 2011 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags:

Corel has introduced their latest version of VideoStudio and this product displays the considerable effort that has gone into streamlining the interface on the frontside and under the hood, Corel has tuned the software to take advantage of GPUs and one of the major features of VideoStudio is the ability to export videos to almost any imaginable format. Transcoding is something GPUs pride themselves on and VideoStudio has done a good job. Exporting videos is painless. But exporting comes at the end, VideoStudio has a new look right from the start. The interface is arranged around an easy One-Two-Three tab system:…

Adobe Acrobat 10 review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 7th 2011 | Permalink
Categories:
Tags: adobe publishing acrobat

With the introduction of Acrobat 10, Adobe has fine tuned its positioning of Acrobat to emphasize collaboration and communication in a company's business operations. The company has also added considerable functionality to aid process and management. Focus is a good thing. The Adobe Acrobat team will concentrate on what it does best—optimizing document work flows for knowledge workers. This latest version expands on the ability of Acrobat Pro to package data into interactive portfolios. Portfolios let users combine documents in their native formats or in PDF with a choice of simple and attractive interfaces. Acrobat has added new designs and templates,…

Review of the Google TV Revue system from Logitech

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 8th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

The true blend that will combine all the content you want from the internet with all the content you want from your TV service is coming, it's almost here, you can almost have it, maybe. Logitech sent us a Google Revue system and I managed to get the thing set up, but it has taken mom, dad, little Billy, and the guy across the street to figure it out. Here's a top line of my initial thoughts and experiences: I love being able to play Pandora through the AV amp while I'm cooking dinner. Looking at pictures on the TV is…

Nvidia GTX 570 Review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 8th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

Latest edition to product line is a winner Nvidia has released the latest in their Fermi series a lower cost Enthusiast class AIB named the GeForce GTX 570. On a performance basis the AIB is very close to the GTX 480 that came out last year and with 1.5 GB can be found today for $450. The new GTX 570 with 1.25 GB of GDDR5 was introduced this week at $349. Like previous GPUs from Nvidia, you will find that some of their AIB partners will also offer OC SKUs that of course will sell a little higher than that. The…

Review: GTS 450 Nvidia novice graphics board

Posted by Kathleen Maher on September 28th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

Nvidia released their newest AIB this week. The GTS 450 is geared for the LAN gamer and those who are keeping a close watch on their discretionary spending—which is all of us these days isn’t it? The successor to the GTS 250, the GTS 450 is positioned to take on the ATI 5750 at the $130 range. The GeForce GTS 450 standard clock is 783MHz for the GPU, however third party supplies will have over-clocked versions of up to 925MHz, standard versions can be over-clocked as well. The memory clock runs at 3600MHz for 1GB of GDDR5 memory with a 128-bit…

An open letter to Steve Jobs

Posted by Kathleen Maher on September 2nd 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

Why I can’t l leave my computer at home. Dear Mr. Jobs, I love my iPad, really, thank you very much. I am a proud member of the current generation of Apple zombies spawned by the iPhoneOS. I have been doing my best to fall in line and help bring in the new age of computing but I could use a little help here. The iPad is working out to be pretty much everything I need for entertainment. I read Kindle books and I can switch to reading them on the iPhone when I’m standing in line for 2 hours at…

New benchmarks - Radeon HD 5870 Review

Posted by Kathleen Maher on August 17th 2010 | Permalink
Categories:
Tags: gaming benchmark

Two new games are out, or will be shortly, and they run DirectX, even though they look like re-ports from a console platform. Nonetheless they do have interesting effects and lighting in them, and give a GPU an interesting workout. “Mafia II” Developed by 2K Czech (previously known as Illusion Softworks), “Mafia II” is published by 2K Games and was first announced in August 2007 at the Leipzig Games Convention. Developed originally for PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, a PC version will be out soon. A 3rd person shooter, driver, maze game with a pretty linear track, the graphics are good,…

AMD on AMD with AMD - The platform company shows its stuff

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 8th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: amd graphics gaming review

After too many years of being criticized for not tooting their own horn enough, the technical marketing folks at AMD sent us a Vision Black machine to put through the paces. I think we may have to toot their horn—this is one impressive machine. As configured, the system was pre-loaded with Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate, all the drivers already installed, and pre-loaded with AMD’s Fusion Media Explorer and the Fusion Utility software. Here is the system configuration: Antec Six Hundred Chassis. Corsair 750W PSU. Asus Crosshair IV motherboard based on AMD’s 890FX chipset with four PCIe slots. 4GB of OCZ DDR3.…

The Specialist Headphone from Nox Audi

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 23rd 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: gaming games audio sound audiophile headphones

While strolling the aisles of E3, we ran across some compact headsets from Nox Audio. The new design includes an integrated 4 mm omni­directional microphone slickly tucked by the left ear pad. It rolls out when needed and rolls back up discreetly to avoid the geek factor that gamers might as well give up worrying about because they’re a lost cause. The other side has a similar knob that turns up the volume. The earphones don’t have noise cancellation but they do employ noise reduction strategies in the construction of the headphones—meaning that they’re designed to block sound. The earphones work…

Testing Tessellation on the GeForce 480

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 28th 2010 | Permalink
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Tessellation represents one of the key benefits of DirectX 11 for gamers. By enabling Tessellation during gameplay the GPU is able to “dynamically subdivide the wireframes of 3D objects.” By subdividing the wireframe the detail of all objects in the game is exponentially increased. Images that once took on a box-like look with tessellation become more naturally rounded. Tessellation can be programmed so that objects in the background that appear far away from the gameplay can be rendered with less detail while objects up close can take full advantage of the dynamic tessellation process providing max detail. This week we took…

Nvidia GTX 480 benchmarks

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 16th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

Benchmarking is very time consuming and we have great admiration for those websites that get so much of it done right after an AIB is released. This is our second series of tests on the Nvidia GTX 480. Since it’s Nvidia’s flagship product, and has taken so long to get to market, we wanted to make sure we gave it the best tests we could do. As it was, due to monitor frustrations with DisplayPort, we were constrained to test at 1920 x 1080. However, as soon as we can get an active DP-to-DVI adaptor, or find a 30-inch 2560 x…

AMD’s new/last IGP motherboard—the 890GX

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 19th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: aib pmark fps usb3 motherboard

AMD has continued to impress us with their chipsets and the new ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 is one of their finest. The 890GX represents the last IGP chipset from AMD before the move to Fusion. The basic specs are formidable. It has an AM3 socket for a Phenom II (and several other processors). It can run up to four 1333 MHz DDR3 memory DIMMs (dual in-line memory module), has a VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs, as well as 1394, SATA, and 12 USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports—one of the first boards to embrace the new specification. The 890GX…

Corel Photo & Video Bundle

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 19th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags:

True to its heritage, Corel has released a powerful set of tools for photo and video professionals in its Photo and Video Pro bundle. Corel disrupted the drawing and illustration market by adding a broad range of tools in Corel Draw including raster to vector tools and most recently dimensioning and other tools for professional users (we’ll talk about CorelDraw in an upcoming review). In the case of the new bundles the company has been releasing for its video and photo products, you can argue that Corel is late to the party but the Photo & Video Pro Bundle is a…

Sony Vaio VPCW2

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 19th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

The smaller the computer the better as far as I’m concerned; and the new Sony Vaio VPCW2 line of computers is pretty darned small. It’s an example of the newest netbooks coming out based on the new lineup of Atom processors. This computer weighs 2.9 lbs and it’s 2 inches thick. It’s basic. The Atom N450 is a dual-threaded processor that runs at 1.66 GHz, it has integrated Intel 3150 graphics, a 667MHz frontside bus, a 512 L2 cache and 1GB DDR2 memory. It features a 10.1-inch display, 1366x768, with web cam and microphone. The video technology includes face tracking. It…

Review: ATI Radeon HD 5830 graphics AIB

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 2nd 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: gpu amd graphics ati gaming radeon gpgpu pmark

ATI-AMD continued to roll out products in its Evergreen line this week, adding to the Enthusiast segment with the HD 5830. The HD 5830 fits in the lower end of the Enthusiast segment in between the HD 5850 and the HD 5770 with a $240 price point. The following chart puts the new board in perspective with its peers from AMD. HD 5770 HD 5830 HD 5850 GTX 260 Core 216 1.36 TFLOPS 1.79 TFLOPS 2.09 TFLOPS   850 MHz 800 MHz Core Clock 725 MHz 1.2 GHz Core Clock 800 Stream Processors 1120 Stream Processors 1440 Steam Processors 240 Processor…

Pay a little, get a lot—AMD’s HD 5450 and 5470 sub $100 AIBs

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 16th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
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AMD introduced two additional add-in boards to their expanding product line for the Value segment putting a virtual strangle hold on the <$100 market. Radeon HD 5450 The HD 5450 with a 40nm “Cedar” GPU is a sub $60 card set to take the place of its HD 4350/4550 predecessors. To get to this thrifty price point AMD made some significant hardwaremodifications. AMD cut the cost of manufacturing of the AIB by giving the 5450 a fan-less heat sink which gives the HD 5450 a unique look but also turns this sub $60 AIB into a dual-slot solution. There will be…

Aperture surprises: Apple slips in new release when fans were losing hope

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 16th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags: apple review adobe images faces lightroom aperture photography photographer geotaggin

Aperture 3 is here and Apple has made it a lot more flexible and friendly. In fact, Apple has reversed the waterfall and pulled the popular Faces and Places feature in iPhoto up to Aperture. Features like photo books, which have existed in both products, have become easier to use in Aperture but there are also more options. Aperture, if you don’t remember, is a photo management tool introduced for professional photographers. It was brought forth sometime before Adobe introduced Lightroom and it caused a sensation. It handled some of the most common tasks performed by professional photographers—and in so doing…

AMD’s ATI Radeon HD5670

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 18th 2010 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: gpu amd ati radeon gpgpu pmark hd5670

While multi-card Crossfire/ SLi solutions and chasing record breaking performance get the headlines the bottom line is fueled by the $100 and under AIB’s. The Mainstream segment of the market has always been the monetary sweet spot of the GPU industry. What a company loses in profit margins in the segment is more than made up for in volume. In years past this segment would be reserved for the high-end parts that has fallen from grace and becomes obsolete, however recognizing the importance of this segment (Steam is reporting that 90% of AIB are <$100) GPU companies design GPUs specifically for…

Software Review: Making Muvees

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 15th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
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Of all the tools out there that promise to make video making easy and fun, Muvee has been one of the best and one of the easiest. The way Muvee works is to let you select video clips and still pictures, add a soundtrack, and pick a style. The templates add some graphics elements, such as a scrapbook, stars, cubes, and also a style for cuts and transitions. Then you just push a button and see what you get. The developers at Muvee have been pretty quiet and that’s because they’ve been working away re-architecting the software to take advantage of…

EVGA’s GT 240 - Testing a powerful low-cost AIB

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 15th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
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We don’t just test super high-end AIBs here at Mt. Tiburon Testing Labs; we look at any AIB that is novel or interesting, or controversial. So we decided to take a look at some midrange AIBs, and in particular Nvidia’s newest offering, the GT 240. EVGA loaned us a board for examination and we put it through the usual tests. It’s appropriate to look at midrange AIBs at this time of year and in this economy. Consumers looking for a gift, or for themselves, are looking for value in their purchases and the midrange AIBs offer plenty of that. Not everyone…

The new Zune review – HD at work

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 19th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
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Microsoft's latest assault on the portable media market is the Zune HD. It is a lovely little piece of hardware that gives Microsoft a play against some strong. In fact, it reminds me of my beloved Samsung Yepp YP-P2. Samsung has upgraded that line with a new P3 and of course, Apple is the power house with the iPod Touch. Microsoft developed this generation of Zune, the HD, with Nvidia’s Tegra and the added power is evident in the beautiful bright screen. It also has a nifty interface, a long battery life, and a software infrastructure that needs work. Table 1:…

Corel Digital Studio 2010

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 28th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags: video media photoshop corel ilife studio editing elements

We believe that there are about 16 million people working with digital media all over the world—and around 35% of them are in the United States. The vast majority of those people are not professionals, they are people who are taking pictures, editing them, and creating videos and picture books, because they like it. Some of them are good at it, many of them wind up spending a lot more time on what they’re trying to do than they ever intended. Corel has taken a look at the market and brought a new suite for working with video, pictures and creating…

Photoshop.com Mobile for iPhone

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 15th 2009 | Permalink
Categories:
Tags: apple facebook iphone adobe photoshop flickr photos online sharing social media

Adobe has released a new photo program for the iPhone and it’s designed to complement the company’s online strategy introduced with Photoshop.com. Photoshop.com Mobile for iPhone lets users quickly edit images including crop, rotate, and flip, and they can adjust exposure, saturation, tint and add effects and borders and it’s easy to upload photos directly to the online version of Photoshop.com. Photoshop.com has shown steady improvement. It’s reasonably fast and it integrates with online sharing sites including Flickr and Facebook, making it easier to publish photos. This app for mobile devices will make it easy to upload images taken with the…

The Insight drive—simple and sweet

Posted by Kathleen Maher on September 22nd 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: apple disk storage hd verbatim backup nero time machine

Verbatim has been building its storage business with products that are easy to use and give customers a little something extra. Their latest product, the InSight drive, adds a small, 32x128, always on LCD display that includes the drive’s name and the amount of storage left on the drive. It’s a little thing, but in situations where there are a number of drives being handed around with video files, audio files, pictures, and backup data, it’s helpful to be able to see the name. If you change the name of the drive, the Verbatim drive updates after a safe removal, but…

Seeing is believing - Putting photo editing products through their paces

Posted by Kathleen Maher on August 6th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Software Review
Tags: apple microsoft google avi wmv roxio mov quicktime

Roxio Photoshow is easy and fun. There’s something nice about having just a few options and getting something done quickly. Luckily, the templates, styles, and music, are pleasant and not too childish or silly as is so often the case in similar programs.Remember this: nothing is easy on a computer unless you stay within your boundaries. You like the Mac, stay there, you like Windows, stay there. Things might work out okay if you stay in your own backyard but then again they might not. What was a simple test of free online software can turn into a maddening exercise in…

A daily driver that looks like a hotrod

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 7th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: hp vista hdx

FIGURE 1: Right side view. (Source: Hewlett Packard) FIGURE 2: Left side view--moving the data. (Source: Hewlett Packard) FIGURE 3: Looks like the DV6Z has a bigger gas tank. (Source: Jon Peddie Research) FIGURE 4: The DV6Z is faster too. (Source: Jon Peddie Research) Computers and cars can be judged using almost the same criteria. You have your “trailer babies” that are carried around to impress but never do much (perhaps your CEO who has the most expensive laptop in the world but only uses it to look at Excel spreadsheets and show it off at board meetings). You have your…

Lenovo vs. HP Z800

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 25th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: nvidia lenovo linux thinkstation

Lenovo S20 ThinkStation workstation. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)The Lenovo S20 ThinkStation we tested had a W5580 Xeon 3.20GHz processors, 3 GB of 1.3 GHz DDR3 ECC RAM, a 7,200 RPM 500 GB HDD, and an Nvidia Quadro FX4800 AIB with 4 GB of GDDR3 RAM. The S20 and the HP Z800 both have a Xeon W5580 @ 3.2 GHz processor, the main hardware difference between the two is that the HP is running with a Quadro FX 5800 AIB and Vista 64, while the Lenovo has Windows XP Pro and a Quadro FX 4800. Not quite the fair fight when it…

The HP Z800

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 25th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: workstation hp

FIGURE 1: Parallels’ Workstation Extreme software allows access of graphics AIBs directly inside VMs (Source: Parallels) ERRATUM: The Z800 does not support hot swap disks. This capability requires a server OS. We are unable to support this on our client OS architecture. When we wrote about the Parallels Workstation Extreme software (Workstation graphics difficulties fixed, p.13, Volume 9, Number 9, April 27, 2009) we were anxious to see it in action. Due to a lot of travel and various other obstacles (such as learning the ins and outs of Linux) it has taken us until now…

Acer Aspire Revo

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 14th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags: acer windows desktop reviews thumbs up

The Aspire is a slick looking little computer, really little, measuring only 180mm x 180mm x 30mm (7.1in x 7.1in x 1.2in) about the size of a wide book. Watching a blu-ray movie on the Acer Playing Stalker on the Acer Figure 1: Performance comparison of three PCs (Source: Jon Peddie Research)The unit is powered by an Intel 1.6 GHz N230 single-core Atom processor, 2 GB of DDR2 RAM, an Nvidia 9400M GPU (aka “Ion”) and a HOW MANY GB drive and it’s running 32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium. The RAM is segmented into 1,792 MB for the system and 320…

What can you get for a hundred bucks these days? - ATI introduces the Radeon 4770

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 28th 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

A damn powerful graphics AIB—ATI introduces the Radeon 4770 Resistance is futile – you will buy a new AIB We test a lot of things here at Mt. Tiburon Testing labs, mostly stuff that has a pixel associated with it, and sometimes things that just amuse or interest us. Last year, we became concerned with the narrow focus in evaluating graphics add-in boards (AIBs) and felt the emphasis on just the highest 3DMark Vantage score or the highest frames per second (FPS) score (using Fraps) in a game was not helping the consumer, or the manufacturers of AIBs understand the total…

What you can do with 55nm and a gig

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 2nd 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
Tags:

The HD 4890 is a dual-slot solution with two DVI-connectors FIGURE 1: The HD 4890 compared to its competitors.ATI announced two new top-of-the line single GPU AIBs this week: the HD 4890 and the HD 4890 OC. Both AIBs are based on the RV790 GPU. The new GPU is a revamped "shrink" version of the RV770, the GPU that powers the HD 4870. The RV790 is built on a 55nm process and it has 959 million transistors. ATI turned up the core clock to 850 MHz in the standard HD 4890 and 900 MHz in the OC version, which represents a…

The Nanovision Mimo UM-710 - USB powered external monitor

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 3rd 2009 | Permalink
Categories: Hardware Review
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No points for neatness here, but the ability to fold the desk up and hide all the business going on in this desk is important and the Nanovision Mimo 710 provides a little more screen real estate at almost no real cost in space. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)According to the compact little manual, getting the Mimo display up and running should take about a minute. So okay, it took me longer. First, there was a bit of head scratching about how to attach the microphone as the instructions told me to do, but ohhh, this is a 710, it doesn’t have…

Nvidia’s GeForce GTS 250

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 3rd 2009 | Permalink
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Nvidia’s new old GeForce GTZ250.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) Figure 2: GTS 250 benchmark scores.(Source: Jon Peddie Research)Nvidia’s “new” AIB isn’t new at all; it’s the branding and marketing effort that is getting the true overhaul. It’s not the fastest card in the world, but it’s got style, vive and brand—who needs anything else? The GTS 250 is a reintroduction of our old friend the G92 first introduced in the 8800 series back in Q4 2007—it was then shrunk from a 65NM to a 55NM part and rolled out as the 9800 GTX+. The GTS 250 has virtually the same specs as…

AMD Introduces the Phenom II

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 18th 2009 | Permalink
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Figure 1: Benchmark results for the AMD and Intel processors.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) Figure 2: FPS results for the AMD and Intel processors.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) At this point, it is almost impossible for AMD to take on Intel from a technology perspective. By all accounts, the i7 processors by Intel are a huge performance step forward. Plus, with 32nm processing on tap for Intel later in the year, AMD is looking to take on their rival on different fronts; the obvious one being the cost/performance ratio. The new Dragon platform with the 45nm Phenom II line features the x4 940…

Canon PowerShot XS10IS; Learning to live within limitations

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 9th 2009 | Permalink
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Musician David Lindley at the Fillmore in San Francisco—this shot was taken from the audience about mid-way back in the hall and zoomed in. This is a pretty amazing shot given everything going against it—low light, zoom, high ISO, etc. etc., and it has been sharpened.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) If there is any activity guaranteed to teach you that you usually get what you pay for, it’s buying cameras. I don’t know how many times I have succumbed to a cheap camera when what I really wanted was the top-of-the-line camera. This time was different. What I really wanted was a…

The HP MiniNote 1000 XP for the road

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 9th 2009 | Permalink
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The HP Mini 1000 XP starts at $359.99 for the 8.9-inch model. Options include SSD or HDD storage upgrades, Bluetooth, external storage with slot, HP Mini Mobile Drive up to 8 GB, HD integrated audio.(Source: Hewlett-Packard) A few companies have embraced the netbook, or mini notebook—some perhaps against their better judgment. If you talk to these companies, they will tell you that the mini-note class is not intended to replace a regular laptop or a desktop—it’s intended to be an on-the-go computer. Their low-power processors are designed for long battery life, as opposed to the kind of heavy-duty processor you might…

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS/1000D Companion; by Ben Long; published by O’Reilly

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 9th 2009 | Permalink
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The Canon Digital Rebel is the most popular digital SLR camera on the market. In fact, it’s fair to say that Canon has created the entry-level dSLR market—Nikon and its fans may disagree, but Canon has built the field, taken the ball, and run with it. Ben Long’s detailed manual for the Rebel XS/1000D is a necessary accessory. Long combines information about the camera with basic photography lessons, as well as lessons in digital photography. Now, for those of you who know all about photography and digital photography and think you are way too smart for this book, let me say…

HP dv2945se: show, go, or both?

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 27th 2008 | Permalink
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One would hazard a guess that the most likely causes of early laptop retirement, regardless of who uses the machine, are the same—death by gravity (dropping) or death by blunt object (smacking it against something). This review was undertaken due to the latter cause of death. An overzealous traveler apparently stuffed this writer’s trusty old Acer 1690 WLCi into an overhead bin to make room for his oversized luggage (the backpack containing the machine managed to travel four rows from its original location, so there was more than one culprit). One must look at the bright side, however. The Acer weighed…

Adobe’s CS4 features major changes for photographers

Posted by Kathleen Maher on September 29th 2008 | Permalink
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Adobe has been readying the market for its new CS4 lineup of software products for months now and anticipation is high. This is a performance release as well as a feature release, although we saw a few features that are going to need a little more work. This fast review is a quick overview concentrating primarily on the imaging tools. We will follow up with a look at the other modules as soon as we catch our breath. With CS4, Adobe has worked hard to finalize the integration of the Macromedia products and the Adobe products. For the most part, there…

ATI takes the flag

Posted by Kathleen Maher on August 18th 2008 | Permalink
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By Alex Gorvoi, Robert Dow, and Jon Peddie Sapphire’s HD4870x2(Source: Jon Peddie Research) FIGURE 1: Comparison of three new AIBs.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) FIGURE 2: Power consumption of three new AIBs.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) FIGURE 3: P4 values for the new AIBs.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) FIGURE 4: Benchmark points per dollar for the three new AIBs.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) ATI launched their new dual-GPU AIB, the Radeon HD 4870 X2, and reclaimed the flag from Nvidia with regard to performance. The timing couldn’t be better—occurring at Siggraph and nicely sidestepping the noise of the Intel Developer Forum and Nvision—not just a…

ATI and Nvidia chips

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 28th 2008 | Permalink
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Alex Gorvoi, Robert Dow, Jon Peddie, and Scooter Now that the dust and hysteria have settled, we thought this was a good time take a look at the two new competing architectures from the leading GPU suppliers. Actually it’s taken us this long to collect all the information and run the tests. We ran so many tests and got so many results we stand in awe of the web boys who manage to pump them out in a day or two. Just getting all the eight- pin power connectors worked out ate up hours of time. Nothing is simple anymore. Fortunately,…

Adobe blends Flash with Acrobat in Acrobat Pro

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 28th 2008 | Permalink
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Adobe’s CS3 brought new interoperability between the company’s product lines, especially by extending support for Acrobat throughout the content-creation tools, making PDF a common format for markups. With Acrobat 9.0 Adobe has increased the integration of Flash in Acrobat. It’s safe to say that this is a trend users can expect to see throughout the product line as Adobe increases the ability of its products to work together and to create interactive pieces. One of the earliest products to be released for Adobe’s next gen is Acrobat 9 Pro, which will be integrated into the Creative Suite 3.3 Design Premium and…

Samsung takes on Apple’s iPod Touch – the P2 works its way to functionality

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 30th 2008 | Permalink
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Samsung YP-P2JAB P2, 4 GB media player The P2 has several interface options for its touch screen. The screen, as you can see, is very reflective but one I figured out the brightness controls all was well. Right out of the box the Samsung P2 is a thrill—it’s sleek, it has a whizzy interface, and it promises to do anything for you. Reality sets in later duing the experimental phase. There’s a media store, but it’s not active in the U.S. yet. There’s Bluetooth but it doesn’t have anyone to talk to. Why in the world does the USB connector have…

Pinnacle Video Transfer

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 30th 2008 | Permalink
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The Pinnacle Video Capture and its little friend iPod. In this case the device is recording as you can see by the red lights and it’s recording to “better” mode because the two blue lights are lit up. It’s a very elegant system. Pinnacle has learned well from experience.(Source: Jon Peddie Research) Such a simple idea and it works. The Pinnacle Video Transfer box has plenty of forerunners and they too were often capable machines if a tad complicated. The Pinnacle Video Transfer box is a simple analog video recorder that attaches to your machine via composite, S-Video, or Stereo Audio.…

Corel 4 - a big box of tools

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 2nd 2008 | Permalink
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Figure 1 Corel has added several useful features to its package of tools for graphic artists including tables, as shown in this example. The basic tasks required to create good-looking pieces including brochures, newsletters, business cards, ads, etc. are all here and easy to use. Note the object manager on the right side, the tabs give users fast access to hints (that usually don’t apply, but at least they’re trying) and to ConceptShare to post work online for comment and even interactive chat with comments. CorelDraw is pretty much the alternative to Adobe’s suite of products for graphics professionals, especially Photoshop…

AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 3870 on Vantage

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 5th 2008 | Permalink
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Figure 1: AMD Radeon HD3870X2 driver tests on Vantage. (Source: Jon Peddie Research) AMD released a 3DMark Vantage Hotfix (Catalyst 8.4.71.1 for those of you scoring at home—not quite Tinker to Evers to Chance but you get the idea. The new driver release is designed to deliver performance enhancements and bug fixes for 3DMark’s new Vantage Benchmark. The new driver applies to Radeon HD 3870 Series through the Radeon HD 2400 Series. Vantage is a benchmark solely for Windows Vista 32 and 64-bit DirectX 10. We ran the tests on the SkullTrail. For our testing purposes, we employed the Radeon 3870…

Pinnacle Video Transfer – no computer needed

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 21st 2008 | Permalink
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We watched some movies and TV this week at MTTL, on the big screen and the tiny screen. We remember the old days, not that long ago, when testing video software was truly a pain, a pain to get the drivers to install and the programs to run, and when we finally got the videos to run, were a pain to look at, the quality was so poor. Those days are thankfully behind us now and watching videos on a PC or a handheld device is now actually a pleasure. CyberLink’s DVDSuite 6 Ultimate By Jon Peddie Downloaded the SW, installed…

Photoshop for free?

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 7th 2008 | Permalink
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Photoshop Express is Adobe’s free online application that links to popular online sites like Flickr, and Facebook. Here, I used the Sketch feature to make my friends look mysterious and pensive. They usually aren’t. Adobe has made the latest version of its Photoshop software available absolutely free. Photoshop Express is yet another example of an online application but it has quite a bit of sophistication in comparison with other sites that we have used. Now, for the sake of honesty, we’ll say tha we use primarily Picasa on the desktop and Flickr online. Photobucket is one of the latest contenders and…

Graphics chips, boards, and systems

Posted by Kathleen Maher on March 24th 2008 | Permalink
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What an amazing couple of weeks this has been, the biggest rush of new, exciting, and interesting graphics parts since we can’t remember when. We got to examine two new IGP motherboards, two new dual GPU boards, and a two GB memory boards. Here’s what was released, and came into the lab, in the last couple of weeks: AMD’s Radeon HD 3870 X2 dual GPU AIB. AMD’s 780g chipset with hybrid graphics. AMD’s FireGL V8650 with 2GB AIB. Nvidia’s GeForce 9800 GX2 dual GPU AIB. Nvidia’s nForce 790i chipset with three SLI slots. And we still have some other slightly older…

Kindle

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 11th 2008 | Permalink
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Star Trek crew member accessing data on his PADD. (Courtesy CBS Studios) In December, in one of the best-executed PR programs since the iPhone, Amazon announced and then released the Kindle. It was the Ebook only better: a larger display, and always on-line for almost instant down loading of books, and Web surfing. Kindle had all the things Sony's Ebook didn't; granted, Amazon had two plus years to figure it out. Nonetheless it was sold out the day it went on sale (300k units we were told) and was in such demand (mind you this was just before the holidays) that…

Graphics boards and killer computers

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 11th 2008 | Permalink
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FIGURE 1: 3DMark06 tests of three AIBs on an AMD Spider platform. (Courtesy CBS Studios) FIGURE 2: Relative performance gain over a single HD 3870 on a Spider platform. (Source: Jon Peddie Research) TABLE 1: Analysis of the data and benchmarks per dollar. It has taken us almost three weeks to do all the testing needed for this article. It was a labor of love. We had two motherboards with new CPUs, and three AIBs, not totally equal in all specifications, but all with interesting features and prices. The equipment: AMD Spider with Phenom quad-core processor. Two Radeon HD 3870 AIBs.…

HP’s latest tablet is good to go – and it’s not bad as a couch companion either.

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 17th 2007 | Permalink
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HP has designed a new tablet computer for business users—the Compaq 2710p and, best of all, they sent it to JPR to try out. We've been really curious about going to a tablet since we spend a lot of time listening to people and taking note. Also, we spend a lot of time travelling. For this, the 2710p is a good size, not too big, not too heavy. The screen size is comfortable and the keyboard, one of the critical aspects for me, is very nice. It has a nice snap to it. HP has opted for an embedded pointer mouse…

Fastest twitch mouse in the world

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 19th 2007 | Permalink
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At Siggraph, we discovered a 3D mouse from Sandio Technology and have been playing with it for the last couple of months. There are three joy-sticks built into the mouse, one on either side (where your thumb and ring finger hold the mouse), and one on top in front of the wheel. That gives you a total of 12 movements, plus the wheel and the conventional left-right mouse buttons—that’s a lot of control, you can see two of the joy-sticks, which have a blue light behind them, in the following photo. Table 2: Benchmarks/dollar for the various AIBs. (Source: Jon Peddie…

Application Interface Boards

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 19th 2007 | Permalink
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This was a busy week for the elves at Mt. Tiburon Testing labs (MTTL), not that it’s every slow around here. Stuff piles up almost faster than we can experiment with it, but as we’ve said many times before, this is so much fun it’s hard to imagine getting paid to do it. Well that’s a lie, it’s not always fun, in fact sometimes it’s so damn frustrating all you want to is throw the computer and whatever it is you’re trying to get to work out the window and then run and jump up and down on it while screaming…

Verbatim forms partnerships that work

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 5th 2007 | Permalink
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It's no secret that memory prices have completely crashed through the floor and we now have gigs of memory available on tiny hard drives as well as flash and even mobile phones. A quick web check reveals a tiny 12 GB Verbatim drive for $107.99 and if you're willing to pack something larger there is a 100 GB Diskgo portable drive for $104. These days 2 GB drives are practically free as companies put their product data on give-away drives. As a result, companies selling memory are facing serious challenges as they put their products out there against competitors with shinier…

RESOURCES FOR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHERS

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 8th 2007 | Permalink
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As enthusiasm for digital photography has grown, so has the lineup of tools available for photo editing and management and many of them are free. In essence, photography tools fall into three categories with a wide gulf in the middle. At the top is Photoshop and its plug ins used widely by professional photographers. There is a mid-range of tools that generally cost no more than $100 and many that offer suites of capabilities including video and audio in addition to photo imaging. The leading competitors include Paint Shop Pro from Corel, Digital Image Suite from Microsoft (you can at least…

Alien Skin offers instant paint plug-in

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 16th 2007 | Permalink
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PRODUCEABLE ART There’s no such thing as easy art but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Snap Art, a plug-in program from Alien Skin, seems to promise users a shot at becomming high art with a few push buttons. In the end, you can get some pretty interesting creations but as in all things, the more effort you put into it, the better your end result will be. And, this being a computer and all, the old rule, garbage in/garbage out still holds. I have used several Paint Programs and I enjoy them a great deal. The leading example is…

Photography reviews

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 16th 2007 | Permalink
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Introduction Camera technology has reached a major inflection point. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say cameras are looking for an inflection point. The camera body designs, lenses and sensors have all settled down into a comfortable arms race. Customers can have all the megapixels they want even in low-priced cameras. If they’re savvy enough to discern quality, consumers can opt for high quality digital SLRs with optional lenses of any description. Now, it’s all about money and brand. There is one more detail—formats. He who owns the format owns the data. And that, in a nutshell is why imaging companies…

Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 16th 2007 | Permalink
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Did we ever tell you that we love TV? We do, we really do and always have, and it just keeps getting better and better—and more accessible for everyone everywhere—TV to the max! And loving TV as much as we do you can imagine we’re always interested in seeing new ones and new technologies. This week we got to look at a couple of new units from Pinnacle and got a pleasant surprise. Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro There are a lot of PCTV USB tuners around—many of them work, a lot don’t. So it’s with a bit of trepidation that we…

Matrox’s TripleHeadToGo – Digital edition

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 2nd 2007 | Permalink
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Those cunning Montrealites have extended their external frame buffer manager into the digital domain and now have a DVI version of it. Shown in the picture is the PC side of the unit, and it also has a VGA input connector since most laptops don’t offer a DVI connector. Figure 1: Matrox’s TripleHeadToGo Digital Edition. (Source: Matrox) The unit looks like a giant second monitor to your PC and can drive an image up to 3840 x 1024 (if you have enough frame buffer memory to support it). That works out to be the equivalent of three 1280 x 1024 screens.…

Confessions of a digital media junkie

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 4th 2007 | Permalink
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If that Amazon bill ever gets into the wild in our household I am toast. Ditto that Paypal history. When it comes to buying media players I just can’t help myself. As readers of this column know, I am in serious love with the Creative ZenW media player. I take it with me everywhere and I have given serious thought to leaving my computer at home and just taking the media player. Why not? I can listen to music, use it for storage, play videos, record podcasts, play the radio. It synchs with Outlook so I have my calendar and appointments…

Cyberlink updates its video lineup

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 4th 2007 | Permalink
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Cyberlink has just introduced its latest version of PowerDirector and Media Deluxe Pro. Cyberlink is a wildly crea-tive company and that adjective is chosen carefully. The company draws from a deep well of creative talent in Taiwan who are associated with the University, thanks to the company chairman Jau Huang and his longstanding relationship with the school. For instance, Cyberlink is pushing the boundaries of PC TV to places that TV would never go alone with its new Media Deluxe Pro. Media Deluxe Pro The company has put itself out ahead with its new video analyzing and editing features. For people…

Dynadock: The almost

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 4th 2007 | Permalink
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It works well and exposes the idiosyncrasies of USB peripherals Figure 1. Setting up the Dynadock. (Photo: JPR) This week we’re testing a nifty little 2001 A Space Odyssey–looking monolithic device from Toshiba called Dynadock. The concept is amazingly clever: simply plug it into a USB 2.0 socket on your laptop (or desktop for that matter), and you’re done. Plugged into the Dynadock is your RJ45 CAT5 Ethernet cable, your DVI second monitor, your optical S/PDIF and/or 3-mm stereo jack, and whatever other (up to six) USB devices you use (e.g., keyboard, mouse, disks, etc.). Is that a great idea or…

Graphics boards and chips

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 21st 2007 | Permalink
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Testing the AMD HD2900XT AMD and Nvidia try to excite—no sale In the last week of April AMD held a little party first in Tunisia and later in the week in Sunnyvale, because those AMD folks really like to party and stack up the mileage points. To attend either of these shindigs you had to sign a NDA promising you wouldn’t say or write anything about what you might hear at the event until May 14, 2007. On Tuesday April 24 we were given details about the R600 chip and the AIB it would grace, the Radeon HD2900. We were not…

AMD likes four

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 26th 2007 | Permalink
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A couple of months ago we reviewed AMD’s 4x4, possibly the most powerful machine that one can still call a PC. Now AMD has brought out the RS690 chipset, and among its many features the one that caught my eye (no pun intended) is the ability to drive four displays—another four for AMD. There have been a lot of IGPs in the market, and all of them, up until now (at least as far as we know) shut off the IGP’s GPU when an AIB is plugged into the PCIe slot. AMD changed the rules, in many ways, with this new…

Sandio’s Game O 3D mouse

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 8th 2007 | Permalink
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The Sandio Game O 3D gaming mouse is a well-designed device that incorporates three mini-joysticks for either six degrees of freedom in 3D applications, or whatever the user custom-programs them to do. Other features of the mouse include a removable palm rest base and two additional programmable buttons, which when pressed in unison cycle the mouse on the fly through four dpi settings ranging from 400 to 2000. The software is quite easy to use and installed without a hitch. I created a profile for web use where I programmed the joysticks to page up and down, home, end, bookmark, print,…

NEC omnibus display

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 8th 2007 | Permalink
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NEC 37-inch LCD monitor, 3735WXM. (Source: NEC) NEC invented the multisync monitor in 1985—22 years ago. The company was king of the hill for computer monitors for a long, long time, but slowly lost market share to aggressive Taiwanese monitor companies like LLLL and in 2000 merged with long-time rival Mitsu-bishi. NEC was also one of the first to bring out LCD monitors. Recently NEC Display Solutions (formerly NEC–Mitsubishi) brought out a killer 37-inch LCD multi-sync display that can be used for almost anything, and they loaned one to us to test. Well suited for home entertainment systems, gaming arcades, conference…

Photoshop reloaded – make that Adobe reloaded

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 4th 2006 | Permalink
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Got work to do? Do not go near Adobe Labs or you’ll get sucked right in. If you don’t find big fun playing with Soundbooth, Adobe’s new sound editor for non-sound editors, you’ll lose hours organizing your photos via Lightroom or picking the colors for your guest room using Kuler, shown above. CS2 users will get a shot at the very latest in Photoshop. As we have commented here before, the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe has brought on a fundamental change in Adobe’s corporate culture—not to mention its software architecture. We’ve been seeing this evolution from the very start as…

Pure Foto Magic, a mini USB TV tuner, and how (not) to download movies

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 6th 2006 | Permalink
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I know, some of you think the “F” in PFM stands for something else, and it does, but in this case it stands for both—read on … This is a sad story with a happy ending. My dear aunt Joy died last week, in her bed, asleep, no pain, about as good a way to go as there is. She was 93, led a great life, had three daughters, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, but only one nephew. I flew back to Philadelphia for the funeral and met with my cousins, who I haven’t seen for five years. We grew up together and…

Roxio’s Creator 9

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 6th 2006 | Permalink
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$79.99 In this day and age of low-cost consumer video products, it can be pretty hard to make a buck. Roxio met the challenge by combining its formidable disk-creation software with video- and photo-editing and charging a premium for the suite compared to similar products. The ace in the hole for the com-pany was their CD/DVD-burning tools acquired with Adaptec. Well, time marches on—Sonic Solutions acquired Roxio and now the company has all kinds of expertise including DVD-making, video, audio expertise, and -backup. An adequate review of Roxio’s new Creator 9 should probably take a few months and a few disasters…

Creative media player: The Vision:W

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 6th 2006 | Permalink
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$299 (30-GByte version) Figure 1. The wide-screen appeal of the Vision:W is obvious. The high-resolution screen can easily handle movies. Now, if only it were easier to get TV shows and movies for non-iPod devices. (Source: Creative)   It’s always Christmas at the Mt. Tiburon Testing Labs, at least when it’s not Halloween and time for tricks or treats. This week brought a real treat in the mailbag—the Creative Vision:W media player. This is a top-of-the-line Creative media player with a 30-GByte hard drive (it’s also available in a 60-GByte version), 4.3-inch high-resolution color screen display, and a replaceable, rechargeable battery.…

ATI’s new AIBs

Posted by Kathleen Maher on October 31st 2006 | Permalink
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TI introduced two new AIBs last week with the x1950 Pro and X1600. The X1950 Pro is targeted at the performance segment and can be categorized as a totally new product for ATI despite the fact the RV570 is a very close relative to the R580. The RV570 is manufactured in an 80-nm process as opposed to the 90-nm. ATI obviously has confidence in its 80-nm proc-ess because the X1950 Pro cooling fan is significantly smaller allowing the x1950 Pro to be a sleek single-slot solution. The X1950 Pro comes equipped with a 330 million transistor processor with a 575-MHz core,…

MTTL melts ATI’s Radeon X1950XTX

Posted by Kathleen Maher on August 28th 2006 | Permalink
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Figure 1. ATI’s X1950XTX and X1950CF. (Source: JPR) True to their word, given at Siggraph, ATI promised to send samples of the new AIBs to us, and they showed up last week—a X1950XTX, and a X1950 CF. To us that means they are in production; we have found this to be a pretty solid rule. Notice the dual-link connector on the CF version (AIB on the right), and the heat tubing running through the copper heat sink. It’s filled with a glycol. We plugged them into an Asus A8 R32 MVP Deluxe 3200-based mobo with a 2.6-GHz dual-core FX 60 AMD…

Jon tries to make a movie for his PSP

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 5th 2006 | Permalink
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Here’s the way it should work. You pick a source file, say a DVD, or maybe a WMV or AVI. You jam in your memory stick, tell the program where it is, or if it’s a really smart program, what it is—you let the program find it, and press Go. You can’t do that for a zillion reasons. Some of the reasons are all the damn file formats, other reasons are the source locations (CDs, USB memories, HDDs, web, etc.), then there are all the output formats, and finally the output media. Several companies produce “DVD” burning and copying programs and…

2-4-$1 – Nvidia’s Dual-GPU AIB

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 5th 2006 | Permalink
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Well, it’s not quite two for the price of one, but it’s close. Long anticipated, since Nvidia showed its Quad solution in the big Dell tent at CES, the company has come out with a consumer version of the dual-GPU AIB. And by installing two of these SLI-ready GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics AIBs into an nForce 4 SLI or 590/570 SLI-based motherboard, authorized system builders can build quad-SLI systems. So, quad is still not for consumers after all, sorry. The GeForce 7950 GX2 offers two GPUs working simultaneously on a single card, which when added up gives you 48 pixel pipes…

Windows Vista tests

Posted by Kathleen Maher on June 5th 2006 | Permalink
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We had lots of stuff to play with this past three-day weekend—too much, as usual, but we gave it our best effort. We went from the very large to the very small. Having just gotten back from WinHec with a fresh Vista Beta build, and having a new motherboard and Intel Duo processor to check out, we went to work. Todd Sparks (our IT manager) and Jon set up a new system with an Intel Pentium D 3.4 GHz with 1 GByte of 533-Mhz PC 4200 DDR2 memory (the fastest we could get, even though the chipset will support 800), an…

Devices that work

Posted by Kathleen Maher on May 22nd 2006 | Permalink
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KATHLEEN HAS BEEN CORNERNING THE MARKET IN RIO MP3 PLAYERS. A trip to eBay reveals that these players are still available and many of them are selling for less than $50. Rio was a pioneer in the industry, and the company got a lot of things right. What’s really wonderful is that it is expandable with an SD memory. The devices have gotten a bad rap for dependability, and indeed one of the players, a cute little khaki-colored Rio 256-MByte player, did go south—worse, it went south on a defenseless younger relative of ours who was given the thing as a…

Never buy another keyboard

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 11th 2006 | Permalink
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Now that’s the last thing our friends at Logitech want to hear, but you get your hands, er, your fingers on a G15 keyboard, you’ll never want anything else, and you probably won’t need anything else. This is the keyboard that does it all. It’s branded as a gamer keyboard and it’s that, and whole lot more. Logitech positions it as being designed by gamers, for gamers. The company says its engineers and designers spent hundreds of hours talking to pro gamers, getting feedback through questionnaires, interviewing casual gamers, and observing gamers of all ages and levels of expertise. We can…

Big boards, big fun – looking at Nvidia’s 7900GTXs

Posted by Kathleen Maher on April 11th 2006 | Permalink
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Figure 1. Benchmark results for ATI and Nvidia. (Source: JPR) You may recall we recently tested dual Nvidia GeForce7800GTX 512 AIBs in SLI mode against dual ATI Radeon X1900XTX AIBs in a Crossfire mode. The results are on our website. No sooner had we finished than Nvidia announced the GeForce 7900 GTX So we called Nvidia and asked if we could borrow a couple of the new AIBs to do some testing. And, true to the reports we’re been reading on The Inquirer and The Register, there were no AIBs available, to us. I happened to be whining about that to…

We do Crossfire – SLI tests

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 28th 2006 | Permalink
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We got a new Asus A8R32 MVP Deluxe socket 939 motherboard with the new ATI Crossfire chipset (that we're not permitted to talk about now, but will do so in the next issue) and built up a new computer. AMD sent us a new dual-core 2.604-GHz 64 FX-60 processor and we beefed up the system with a 550W power supply and 1 GByte of 400-MHz DDR; we were ready to rock and roll. Comparison of SLI and Crossfire systems. (Source: Jon Peddie Research) (Note: Nvidia doesn't run AA in SLI mode.) Sitting next to the CF-based system was an SLI-based system,…

What a chassis – the Lian Li memorial chassis, that is

Posted by Kathleen Maher on February 28th 2006 | Permalink
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Figure 1. Lian Li's memorial chassis. (Source: Lian Li) We recently stumbled across the Lian Li 20th anniversary memorial chassis and thought it was exactly how a Crossfire or SLI chassis should look, like a giant exhaust fan. Further investigation, however, revealed it also to be very cleverly designed, and strikingly interesting looking, as well as totally unique, cabinet (see Figure 1). A little more investigation led us to Hardware Logic's page, where they took the cabinet and built a PC using it (Figure 2). Figure 2. Lian Li 20th anniversary memorial cabinet loaded and exposed. (Source: Hardwarelogic.com) You can see…

Apple introduces Aperture; Adobe counters with Lightroom

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 30th 2006 | Permalink
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Apple has been saving most of its surprises for the consumer end of its business, but just before the holidays the company rolled out Aperture as a gift for its dedicated professional customer base. The new photo-management and image-processing tool is a gorgeous complement to Apple's Cinema displays—which are making their way to being affordable—and the new Quad G5 computers, the last of the Power PC Apples. Figure 1. The Loupe in action with Apple's Aperture Layout feature. (Source: Apple) Aperture represents an archetypal Apple approach to design. The new software for photo post-processing does not do much that a myriad…

If you like four how about a 2 x 2?

Posted by Kathleen Maher on January 16th 2006 | Permalink
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AMD just announced its long-awaited dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60. Long-awaited not because it is late but because there is such a pent-up demand for it in the enthusiast community. You can expect to see this part fly off the shelves. The demand for high performance in PC games and digital media content has steadfastly escalated, challenging Moore's Law while reviews have shown the AMD Athlon 64 dual-core processors outshining the competition. So the 64 FX-60 dual-core processor will take its place as the highest performing dual-core consumer processor from AMD. The company claims it is showing an average 34% improvement on…

Asus EAX1800XT breaks speed limits

Posted by Kathleen Maher on December 5th 2005 | Permalink
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If the reviews for the Asus EAX1800XT TOP are as good as the initial reviews of the ÒKing KongÓ movie then Asus will be getting gaming converts. Asus, is making the connection by bundling the official game of ÒKing KongÓ with the new Asus offering. Figure 1. Asus EAX1800XT TOP over-clocked AIB. (Source: Asus) Asus promises that the R-520 based EAX1800XT will be the fastest AIB using the X1800XT GPU, with the core clock speed cranked to a racy 700MHz and a memory clock of 1.6 GHz (800 MHz GDDR3). ThereÕs 512 MB of GDDR3 on board. The 700MHz core clock…

No wonder about ATI using R520 for TV

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 21st 2005 | Permalink
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As the 1800 XT is finally hitting the market ATI will introduce its latest card in the All-In-Wonder series, the Radeon All-In-Wonder (AIW) X1800 XL. In the past the All-In-Wonder additions to the ATI family usually didn't appear until months after the launch of the flagship products. However, ATI wanted to change things up this time around. By releasing the All-In-Wonder closer to the main product launch they are hoping that they can entice graphics and multimedia enthusiasts to purchase the combo board rather than running straight out to buy just the graphics AIB. For the price it would be hard…

Living with the Xbox 360

Posted by Kathleen Maher on November 21st 2005 | Permalink
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The Xbox 360 is clearly this year's Tickle-Me Elmo. Stores started reporting shortages shortly after Thanksgiving. If you want an Xbox 360 and you just can't find one you might try going to Japan because we hear the machines are sitting on the shelves. According to a survey conducted by Japanese publishers Enterbrain, Microsoft has sold less than half of the 159,000 boxes the company has shipped to Japan for the first week of sales. Enterbrain publishes the Japanese game magazine Famitsu. Editor Munetatsu Matsui of Famitsu says the reason for the slow sales of the Xbox 360 is because gamers…