Content and news by Taterworks

Thermaltake BigWater 760i

If you thought about liquid-cooling your PC, but were put off by the complexity of a typical installation, Thermaltake’s BigWater 760i may be the solution for you. The drive-bay mounting system is a novel solution, but can it provide enough of an advantage over air-cooling to make it worthwhile?

Published on January 22, 2008

AMD Delays Phenom 9700 CPU, Possibly 9900 Until Q2 2008

Ars Technica reports that AMD has revised their roadmap yet again for the upcoming Phenom parts. According to the report, Phenom 9700 will be delayed into the second quarter of 2008, and a low power quad-core part is also planned, the ‘9100E’. Part of the reason for the delay, as Ars speculates, might be a delay in producing the ‘B3’ stepping – which does not suffer from the TLB bug that limited the clock speed of the original stepping.

It’s unclear whether this shift in AMD’s roadmap will affect the Phenom 9900 model CPU, which had been slated to come in at 3.0GHz. Also, as Ars reports, there’s probably little reason for anyone to hold their breath waiting for AMD’s 45nm components.

If Sunnyvale can’t offer a higher clock than Phenom’s current 2.3GHz, however, much of the processor’s potential appeal is going to vanish—moving from a dual-core at 2.8GHz to a triple-core at 2.3GHz isn’t going to appeal to most enthusiasts. Initial Toliman CPUs will also be based on current K10 steppings—don’t expect AMD’s B3 stepping to show up in the tri-core line before it moves to the quad-core products.

Source: Ars Technica

Published on January 10, 2008

Microsoft Won’t Make An iPhone Competitor, Gates Says

Several companies have announced or released competing products to Apple’s iPhone, among them Nokia’s N810 (which isn’t a phone, but provides internet capabilities), and HTC’s Touch. However, in an interview with German national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Bill Gates stated that Microsoft wouldn’t be joining that list anytime soon, according to PC World. The company, he stated, prefers to focus on its Windows Mobile platform, which is already in wide use.

His statement essentially puts the kibosh on rumors that began to circulate shortly after the release of the iPhone. But wait…in February 2007, CrunchGear reported that Microsoft filed a patent for a handheld device that would use the OFDM communication protocol, the basis for future 4G wireless networks. If Bill was giving a straight story, it means that any development that might have occurred has been halted. Which is just as well…we desperately need Microsoft to have total focus and be at the top of their game for Windows 7.

“We have partnerships with a lot of device manufacturers from Samsung to Motorola and this variety brings us significantly more than if we would make our own mobile phone,” he added.

Source: PC World

Published on January 9, 2008

CompUSA Gets New Lease On Life

Thank TigerDirect. When CompUSA announced back in December that the electronics retailer would be closing their remaining stores nationwide, Systemax (the parent company of TigerDirect) took notice, and rumors of a potential rescue for the CompUSA brand began to fly. Those rumors have become reality, with Systemax agreeing to purchase select CompUSA stores as a complement to the company’s TigerDirect online retail outfit. Ars Technica has the full story.

In 2003, CompUSA purchased the California-based Good Guys electronics retail chain, renaming and converting the stores to CompUSA and adding a “Home Entertainment” department to their existing stores featuring products from the defunct chain. However, the addition of home A/V products was not widely publicized, and so did little to help CompUSA in its final years. There is no word yet from Systemax on what changes might be in store for CompUSA’s product line.

“We believe the value of the CompUSA brand remains very high. The company has a long legacy of value pricing, service and customer loyalty among consumers nationwide,” said Systemax CEO Richard Leeds in a statement. “We view this acquisition as a strong complementary business to our TigerDirect operation.”

Source: Ars Technica

Published on January 8, 2008

Mozilla Won’t Be Going Public Anytime Soon

The web loves its rumor mill. Recently, on the speculations of industry analyst Henry Blodget, who wrote that Mozilla stood to gain greatly from going public, despite

the fact that to do so might be seen to run contrary to the open-source ethos, renewed discussion of what a Mozilla IPO might mean for the industry began to surface once

again. It’s clear that, though the for-profit Mozilla Corporation was formed from the original nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, the high-ups at Mozilla still view their work

as a continuation of the original values of the Mozilla project, and the fact that the sole shareholder in the corporation is the non-profit Mozilla Foundation stands to

ensure that for years to come.

Ars Technica examines the subject in detail in a new article on their site – it turns out there’s more to Mozilla’s denial than a simple statement. The fact that the

corporation is owned by a non-profit organization would make an IPO difficult. Also, as Anders Bylund writes, Blodget’s comparison to Google isn’t warranted; there isn’t

a vastly widening circle of owners with Mozilla as there was with Google – instead, there is effectively a single owner.

This goes far beyond a simple “no, we won’t.” With public statements like these, management would lose lots of face if they ever turned coat and went public. And

while Blodget likes to draw parallels to the Google IPO four years ago, the situation at Mozilla today is really very different.

Source: Ars


Published on January 6, 2008

Sony Might Actually Win A Format War…For Once.

The memory most frequently conjured up by the current Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD format war is the earlier war between VHS and Sony’s Betamax format. But with Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema abandoning HD-DVD for Blu-Ray, and the HD-DVD Group canceling their CES press conference and one-on-one meetings, could we soon be looking at the resolution of the hi-def format war?

According to a recent DailyTech article, Toshiba and the HD-DVD group aren’t ready to admit defeat just yet, but the truth may be that Blu-Ray was a more marketable technology from the start, with a more widely-recognizable name and the placement of drives in every PlayStation 3 console sold by Sony. In this case, it would appear that consumer awareness of a particular format played a crucial role in selecting a winner in the format war.

“A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry,” stated Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara.

Source: DailyTech

Published on January 6, 2008

Ultrasone HFI-700 Headphones

A relative newcomer to the high-end headphone market, German manufacturer Ultrasone is making waves in the industry with their competitively-priced offerings that deliver excellent sound quality and value. We take their HFI-700 headphones for a spin, and find plenty to get excited about.

Published on December 20, 2007

GameSpot Editor Firing Prompts Ethics Discussion

Last week, a GameSpot editor (Jeff Gerstman) was fired after publishing a negative review of the new game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. We can’t say for sure whether the two events were related; Jeff wrote the review, and was fired after it was published. (Draw your own conclusions.) Gerstman’s employer, GameSpot, was quick to publish a statement afterward, saying it takes editorial integrity “very seriously”. The entire incident has prompted a wide-ranging discussion on everything from the possibility of foul play in the GameSpot scandal itself to the more general ethical considerations in a medium supported by advertising dollars.

The discussion continues at Ars Technica, where columnist Ben Kuchera tackles the ethical concerns in the game journalism world, but it’s exceedingly relevant to the hardware journalism world, as well as the rest of the software journalism world. Editors and reviewers balance ethical concerns with the concern for perpetuating the journalistic enterprise – and the sobering truth is that in some cases, ethical considerations have had to give way to self-preservation.

Currently, it’s Techgage editorial policy not to bow to pressure from hardware manufacturers and software publishers to pad their review scores, even if they have advertisements on our site. We strive to uphold our role as advocates of the consumer first and foremost, and ultimately we believe this arrangement is the most beneficial, both to our readers and to manufacturers and publishers. If a company is dissatisfied with the outcome of a Techgage review, we will oblige them by re-examining the methodologies and attitudes present in the review itself, but that’s as far as it goes. If the methods used in testing and reviewing the product are legitimate, we’ll ultimately stand behind our reviewers’ opinions, and invite the company to submit a different product which may fare better in our review process. But we have it a little easier than sites that specialize heavily in game reviews – because of the diversity of content we publish, we have a much broader base of companies that we can go to for advertising. In gaming journalism, the market is dominated by several major players, which means that as a matter of survival, you’ve got to be very selective about who you tick off.

The reason this issue came up at GameSpot was simple: the site allows one company to blanket GameSpot when a new game is released. When one title occupies every ad spot on your site and also features a launch center, trailers, and anything else you can think to sell, the game’s makers have too much control over what writers say. After all, at that stage, it’s their site. They paid for it, it’s covered with their intellectual property, and it’s by their graces that you’re still in operation.

Source: Ars Technica

Published on December 4, 2007

Activision and Blizzard Join Forces

On Sunday, we received word that two of PC gaming’s biggest companies (one of which is also console gaming’s biggest, thanks to Guitar Hero) will be joining forces to take on the future of electronic gaming, which, apparently, involves mega-huge developers going toe-to-toe in epic style for gamers’ dollars. Vivendi Universal and Activision released a statement on December 2 stating that the new company would henceforth and evermore be known as Activision Blizzard.

In any such merger, the question eventually arises: “Who’s on top, and who’s on the bottom?” In this case, Activision’s CEO Robert Kotick will be the CEO of the new company, with Vivendi’s former CEO, Bruce Hack, ending up as vice-chairman and Chief Corporate Officer. Vivendi, however, will have a 52% stake in the new company once all is said and done with the 18.2-billion-dollar deal. The boards of both companies have approved the merger, but it currently awaits stockholder approval.

Mike Morhaime added: “Blizzard’s industry-leading PC games business, with a track record of nine consecutive bestsellers and a global subscriber base of more than 9.3 million World of Warcraft players, is an exceptional fit for Activision’s highly profitable console games business. From our interactions with the Activision team, it is clear we have much in common in terms of our approaches to game development and publishing. Above all, we are looking forward to continue creating great games for Blizzard gamers around the world, and we believe this new partnership will help us to do that even better than before.”

Around here, we’ll likely begin referring to the company as ‘Actiblizz.’

Source: IGN

Published on December 3, 2007

Unexpected Partners in DRM Fight: Amazon and Wal-Mart

Two of the world’s biggest heavyweights in electronic music distribution, Amazon and Wal-Mart, recently handed the music industry separate (though one in spirit) ultimatums – make your catalogs available in MP3 (DRM-free) format…or else. According to Ars Technica, among the companies to receive ultimatums were Warner Music and Sony BMG. .

Wal-mart’s store discarded DRM back in August, providing DRM-free tracks from EMI and Universal. Amazon’s MP3 store, DRM-free since its inception in September, also features tracks from over 20,000 independent labels in addition to Universal and EMI.

With Amazon spreading the word next year in a big way for DRM-free media and Wal-Mart trying to knock some sense into more major labels, 2008 is already looking to be a strong year for the fight against DRM.

Source: Ars Technica

Published on December 3, 2007

Puppy Love: XM and Sirius Merger Could Be Approved Today

While we’d stop short of calling the subscription-based satellite radio business model a total failure, it certainly hasn’t quite revolutionized the way we receive radio in the way its pioneers had hoped. The message from consumers is clear (actually, there are two): 1) we don’t mind commercials, and 2) don’t make us buy expensive hardware (which also puts HD Radio in the toilet).

A long talked-about merger between XM and Sirius may be approved today by the U.S. Department of Justice, green-lighting the two companies to join forces. Though it’s true that a merger between the two companies would leave us with only one satellite radio provider, and it’s anybody’s guess whose current reception hardware will end up obsolete, the loudest sound in the radio industry is overwhelmingly the sound of nobody caring.

Many believe that the DOJ will issue its announcement before the bell on Monday, mostly based on Bear Stearns’ word that the deal will be approved as soon as last Friday or today. Of course, no one knows for sure except for the DOJ itself… but what do you think? Is today the day?

Source: Orbitcast

Published on December 3, 2007

Quad FX Gets The Boot

From the We Hardly Knew Ye (And We Liked It That Way) Department: The last hurrah for enthusiast multiprocessor systems has hurrahed its last. Power-hungry, hot-running, expensive, and limited by poor memory bandwidth, AMD’s Quad FX is finally being taken behind the woodshed. According to DailyTech, AMD has “discontinued future planning and development” for Quad FX, which means – in short – that the platform has been canned.

So what does this mean for multiprocessor enthusiast systems? The simple fact remains that multiprocessor systems require more power, generate more heat, and cost significantly more than their single-CPU counterparts, and they only appeal to a tiny fraction of enthusiasts, which represent only a fraction of the wider PC market. Though Intel’s offerings are the flavor of the month (or year), there’s reason to expect that Intel’s Skulltrail won’t go far either. Oh, sure, we’ll see a few offerings for the sake of establishing Intel’s fire superiority in the gaming market – but don’t expect much market penetration…at all. Enthusiasts would rather hold out for octal-core CPUs, which will likely cost less. We suspect that with the end of Quad FX, multi-CPU gaming platforms have been effectively kicked to the curb once and for all.

After all the promises ad statements by AMD that Quad FX was the companies enthusiast future, AMD has apparently decided to all but kill the platform off. The few enthusiasts who plunked down the big dollars required to adopt the platform should be feeling a bit uncomfortable right now.

Source: DailyTech

Published on November 30, 2007

iPod Touch Fails To Gain Retail Traction

Of all the Apple iPod players I ever thought I might buy, the iPod Touch grabbed my attention most of all. The promise of Wi-Fi internet access and the eye-catching “awesome” factor of the bright touch-screen were the chief benefits that put the Touch on my personal list of must-have techie toys. (That is, if I were in the mood to purchase my over 5,000 PlaysForSure tracks on iTunes.)

However, according to this article from AppleInsider, though the iPod Touch captured the most consumer interest out of Apple’s current line of music players, all that interest hasn’t translated to sales. It seems that when it comes time to buy, capacity is still king – and overwhelmingly, retail customers are walking out the door with the 8GB iPod Nano (known affectionately around here as the “fattie”) instead of an 8GB Touch.

Also, a lot of consumers seemed to opt for iPhones over iPod Touch because iPhones facilitate all that iPod can do (and more), but the opposite is not true,” the analyst further advised clients. “Older individuals preferred iPod Touch because of its interface and Wi-Fi capability, while iPod Nano was more favored by younger individuals (children and teens).

I suppose that makes me ‘old.’ Rats.

Source: AppleInsider

Published on November 30, 2007

MSI Takes Motherboard Watercooling A Step Further

MSI’s new HydroGen X48-based motherboards don’t bother with fans, heatpipes, or fins of any sort – instead, according to photos obtained by Bit-Tech, MSI has developed a cooling solution that appeals specifically to watercooling enthusiasts, featuring a copper tube that channels the cooling water from one heat-producing component to the next.

The MSI waterblock doesn’t include barbs – just threaded holes, which means enthusiasts will be able to match tubing sizes throughout their liquid-cooled rig. The question remains to be answered, however, about whether the exclusively watercooled solution will catch on – given the limited market penetration of liquid cooling systems, even in the enthusiast market.

MSI claims up to 20 percent more power efficiency and up to six times longer life because of the continually reduced component temperature. We expect this also means there should be some better potential overclocking too – providing the BIOS (and new X48 chipset) is up to it.

Source: Bit-Tech

Published on November 29, 2007

AMD Slips Past Number 10 On Key List

The embattled AMD has certainly lost a lot of blood this year, with only (really) the RV670 GPU and 790FX chipset to show for their efforts. Phenom was a bust, to say the very least, and even the Radeon HD2000 series fell short of expectations, relegated to the bargain bin. The Black Edition CPUs did virtually nothing to help AMD regain its standing with the enthusiast market, either, despite the Black 5000+’s overclocking headroom.

As if AMD’s Year in Review didn’t already look bleak, now there’s more bad news – the lone Intel rival has slipped past the number 10 spot on iSuppli’s ranking of the world’s top ten chipmakers. The impression we’re getting is conflicting, however, since AMD just made its first appearance on the top-ten list of IC Insights, another industry research firm. The key is in the third quarter – the only quarter IC Insights considered for their most recent rankings. And despite dropping off iSuppli’s list, the research firm indicates that they expect AMD’s market share to grow in the fourth quarter – albeit to nowhere near where it was just a year ago. Should AMD fans and investors even hold out hope that the chipmaker will be able to regain its former footing and go toe-to-toe with Intel once more? Stockholders, place bets now!

For the fourth quarter of this year, iSuppli is predicting that Intel will hold onto 78.8% of the market. The analysts also estimate that Intel will bring in $7.24 billion in revenue this quarter, while AMD is expected to bring in $1.3 billion, which is just shy of the company’s $1.35 billion in fourth quarter, 2006, revenue.

Source: PC World

Published on November 29, 2007

Optimus Maximus Goes (Barely) Affordable

Though the prices will still be way outside the realm of possibility for most enthusiasts, Art Lebedev Studios – the makers of the incredible eye-popping $1564 Optimus Maximus OLED keyboard – recently announced that flavors of the Optimus Maximus will become available with fewer OLED keys.

An Optimus Maximus with 47 active OLED keys will still run you a cool thousand bucks, while one with only 10 programmable OLED keys will set you back $600. A third variation with only an OLED space bar will also be available, for the odd figure of $462. Though I’m inclined to wonder what use a keyboard with a programmable space bar would be.

Starting February 20th, 2008, Art Lebedev comes true to his word with new 1, 10, and 47 programmable OLED key configurations for $462, $599, $999, respectively. How (almost) practical.

Source: Engadget

Published on November 29, 2007

Apack ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 CPU Cooler

If you’re Apack, how do you surprise the rest of the cooling industry? Release a tower-style CPU cooler that doesn’t look like a butterfly. The new ZEROTherm Nirvana NV120 is that cooler, and luckily, it impressed. Could the Nirvana NV120 be our newest air-cooling champion?

Published on November 27, 2007

Valve’s Eric Wolpaw talks to RPS

If you’ve found yourself laughing out loud at the bizarre wit and humor in the game Portal, that’s all thanks to Valve’s Eric Wolpaw. In this interview with RockPaperShotgun, the writer of Portal talks about his experiences at Old Man Murray, the move to Valve, and the development of Portal.

I figured I’d be spending most of my time getting fired in a few weeks. Thank God for Portal and Team Fortress and Valve’s decentralized management structure that created an environment where nobody 100% knew who had the authority to fire me until I was able to actually make a meaningful contribution.

Source: RockPaperShotgun

Published on November 2, 2007

iTunes 7.5 Expected As Early As Next Week

Those who are waiting with baited breath for the next release of Apple’s popular iTunes software shouldn’t have to wait much longer – Apple’s preparing to deliver iTunes 7.5 sometime during the month of November, but the release could come as early as next week. iTunes 7.5 fixes a vexing bug in which iTunes Plus downloads could sometimes cause the program to hang after completing the download.

The software is currently in late beta and targeted for a release within the next week, as it is also expected to bundle support for the UK and German versions of iPhone. However, those familiar with the matter say plans for critical software releases such as iTunes are often subject to change, which could push the release out by a few additional days.

Source: AppleInsider

Published on November 2, 2007

Logitech G51 Gaming Surround Speakers

More than just a design refresh of the X-540 system, the G51 gaming speaker system delivers plenty of substance and several features that are intended to appeal to the specific tastes of gamers. We’ve got a set, and we’re putting it to the test.

Published on October 31, 2007

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