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It's been a long year of HDD supply shortages and wacky premiums, but things are finally stabilizing and new designs are trickling out of drive makers. Recently WD expanded its flagship Black series with a 4TB model, meant to deliver a balance between speed, capacity and price.
At ~$350, a Black 4TB drive is slightly cheaper than a pair of WD Black 2TB drives and much more affordable than the previously released enterprise WD RE 4TB drive. Given that we've been spoiled by SSDs over the last few years, we don't expect to be blown away by the new drive's blistering speed, but it should be fun comparing its performance with other terabyte-plus hard drives if ample capacity is what you're after...
A $200 laptop is a difficult thing to assess. The Acer C7 Chromebook has that shockingly low price tag, but there's also weak build quality and a netbook-grade CPU. The trade-offs the buyer must be willing to make are not trivial. And that’s before we acknowledge the Acer C7 runs Chrome OS rather than Windows.
The most interesting question then, is who exactly is the C7 for? Before we can get to who it’s for (hint: there is more than one correct answer,) we have to get to the bottom of what the C7 is and then more importantly, what it can do.
They are, beyond control schemes and visuals, the single best reason to play games on a PC. Mods can, at their laziest, tweak a game so its settings or features behave more to your liking. At their most ambitious, they can transform your entire experience, leaving you with something that feels like an all-new game.
This year was a big one for PC mods, with two - DayZ and Black Mesa - rivalling commercial products for public awareness and, perhaps more importantly, quality. But they weren't the only great mods released this year, here's a shortlist of the best mods released during 2012.
Gamers tend to take a lot of pride in building their own rigs, but it's generally not enough to have top-notch performance without the looks to match. Motherboards, for instance, have transformed from generic green slabs to works of art. Interestingly, it seems increasingly common to find aggressive military styling among high-end motherboards. Despite the prevalence of military-themed motherboards, enthusiasts haven't had a whole lot of stock options for matching cases.
Hoping to fill that void, Corsair updated its Vengeance gaming lineup earlier this year with the C70 series which comes in Military Green. Thermaltake also launched the Level 10 GT Battle Edition with the same olive drab paint job and a few nifty details that are well worth a look if Army-themed gear is your thing.
Being one of the most prolific sources of security vulnerabilities in Windows and other platforms, Adobe Flash Player needs no introduction. In spite of that reputation, and the fact that the rest of the industry is moving away from Flash, Microsoft surprised many of us by bundling the software with its operating system for the first time with Windows 8. This is after previously announcing that they wouldn't allow Flash in the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 -- a decision the company later reversed.
I was glad when the Adobe Flash Player Updater was released in March. Finally the day had come when our machines would be silently updated with the latest Flash version... or so I thought. It'd just seem Adobe is making all possible efforts to make its software more bloated and less attractive to all consumers, here's why.
Like the original game, Far Cry 3 is set on a tropical island, this time found somewhere at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In typical TechSpot fashion, we'll be testing Far Cry 3's open world environment using 29 DirectX 11 graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia across all price ranges.
This new game is built using an advanced version of the Dunia engine called Dunia 2, which is said to feature new water rendering technology, a realistic weather system, advanced AI technology, a new animation system, realistic facial expressions, motion capture technology and global illumination -- many of which are made possible by the game's adoption of DirectX 11 and can only be experienced on the PC version.
Far Cry 3 is an open-world shooter through and through. The setup is simple: You're set loose on a massive island and tasked with gradually conquering it, one dead pirate/tiger/shark at a time. Here's a gun. Have fun.
There's a story you can play through, but it's in the balance between the "story parts" and the "non-story parts" that Far Cry 3 finds success. The story parts are a long series of mostly linear, welcomely varied adventures Jason undertakes in service of this rescue/revenge plot. The non-story parts are the emergent action that happens all over the island between missions. As with many of the best open-world games, the story parts are fun, but the non-story parts are what make Far Cry 3 special.
Modern tablets were designed primarily as media consumption devices. But more recently, units like the Asus Transformer and the Microsoft Surface are challenging this idea with optional keyboards built for each slate. Microsoft in particular is keen on showing consumers that Surface can serve as a legitimate productivity machine.
Unsurprisingly, accessory makers have been selling keyboard units designed specifically for the iPad for quite a while. Today we are checking out three of them from the likes of Belkin, Logitech, and Zagg.
Six years later and it seems the developer is ready to revive the infamous Agent 47 in Hitman's fifth game, which crept onto shelves last Tuesday, November 20 -- or the 47th week of the year. Among its other advancements, Hitman: Absolution is the first game to be developed using the new Glacier 2 engine.
The updated engine was specifically built for Hitman, with a strong emphasis on enabling very dense crowds and allowing players to not only interact with characters but also to influence their behavior. The engine is said to be able to handle up to crowds of 1200 characters, which makes Absolution unlike any other game.
Hitman: Absolution is a wickedly smart, darkly enjoyable video game, one that's as generous to players as its protagonist is merciless to his victims. You'll stab, strangle and shoot your way through level after level, sometimes grimacing, sometimes scowling, sometimes laughing.
Absolution picks up the Hitman story where the last game in the series, 2006's Blood Money, left off. That's a long time between sequels, even in the relatively slow-moving video game world. But that extended time in development likely accounts for a lot of what makes Hitman such a sprawling, interesting game.
Earlier this year we reviewed OCZ's flagship Vertex 4 SSD which at the time we were lead to believe was based on a second-generation Everest controller developed in-house. Eventually it was revealed and later confirmed by OCZ that the Octane and Vertex 4 drives actually used Marvell controllers with firmware developed in-house by the Indillinx team. While we acknowledged that it was very sneaky on OCZ’s behalf, it also didn’t change things much for us. Regardless of who did or didn't make the controller, the Vertex 4 was still one of the best performers and best values in the high-end SSD segment.
So with the controversy of the Vertex 4 almost behind them, OCZ is finally ready to unveil its first truly in-house SSD controller. It's been three years since Indilinx released a brand new controller and they are doing so today with the Barefoot 3, which is to be featured in OCZ’s latest SSD series known as Vector.
After a busy year with numerous GPU releases by mid-September things had settled down for good. And then, AMD threw us a curve ball. Their Catalyst 12.11 beta drivers delivered major performance gains in many popular games such as Battlefield 3, Borderlands 2, Civilization V, Skyrim, Sleeping Dogs and StarCraft II. Around the same time, Nvidia released a new beta driver of its own which claimed gains in several titles, and this driver has since been replaced by the GeForce 310.61 update, which made further performance enhancements.
With updated pricing and performance across the board, we figured it would be worth revisiting both company's offerings to see where you should spend your hard-earned cash this holiday season and into early next year.
Each iteration of Sony's flagship device has improved and been better than the previous version, but no single attempt has been just right. The Xperia TL, available now on AT&T, is as close as the company has come to finding the smartphone sweet spot, but is that good enough to rival other Android manufacturers?
James Bond seems to think so. The Xperia TL gets quite a bit of product placement in the latest flick, Skyfall, popping up as Britain's greatest fictional spy goes on missions to save the world and get the girl. If it's good enough for the world's most debonair spy, surely it's good enough for the average gentleman or lady.
There is no single event responsible for ousting AMD from its lofty position in early 2006. The company's decline is inextricably linked to its own mismanagement, some bad predictions, its own success, as well as the fortunes and misdeeds of Intel.
AMD has long been subject of polarizing debate among technology enthusiasts. The chapters of its history provide ample ammunition for countless discussions and no small measure of rancour. Considering that it was once considered an equal to Intel, many wonder why AMD is failing today. However, it's probably fairer to ask how the company has survived so for long -- a question we intend to explore as we revisit the company's past, examine its present and gaze into its future.
With barely a month to go before Christmas, the race is on to clear your holiday shopping list -- or, for the procrastinators out there, to start putting one together. Although you're working against the clock, the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales make this a fairly sensible time to dive in and ensure your loved ones are sufficiently showered in silicon-laced trinkets and baubles on the morning of December 25. As it happens, we have a soft spot for said gadgets and we've compiled a list of over two dozen things spanning all budgets that we'd love to find under the tree this year.
If you’ve played around a bit with Windows 8, you know it’s just one of those things that needs to be touched. A mouse is okay, a trackpad gets by, but don’t-call-it-Metro begs to be touched. The live tiles and lengthy Start screen are designed for just that, and nothing else truly satisfies.
While manufacturers haven’t exactly flooded the market with touch-enabled laptops, there are some good options out there already. Expect a crush of touchable Windows 8 machines at CES early next year, but for those shopping this holiday, we have cherry picked the best touch-enabled, Windows 8 laptops.
The Wii U is a capable machine. For once, we have a Nintendo console that doesn't feel like it is pocked with omissions. Gone is the era of GameCube controllers with three shoulder buttons when the competition has four. Gone is the era of the Wii that couldn't send HD graphics to an HD TV.
The Wii U meets the standards of modern console gaming, while also supporting Wii Remotes and therefore serving as an HD version of the Wii. It does all of these things and introduces some well-realized new features to modern console gaming.
For Call of Duty fans, developer Treyarch just delivered an early Christmas present when they released Black Ops II this week. As the ninth game in the Call of Duty franchise and the sequel to the 2010 game Black Ops, we are hoping to see something meaningfully new from Black Ops II.
But as usual, our main concern from a performance article perspective has to do with the game engine which has been slow to evolve over the years. The key changes to the game engine include a new technology called "reveal mapping" and HDR lighting. On paper the upgrade also calls for the move to the DirectX 11 API for the PC version of the game. This means PC gamers should enjoy better visuals when compared to those using console versions.
The holiday season is right around the corner and so is Black Friday, when the Christmas shopping season officially begins. The best way to make the most of Black Friday savings is to be prepared. So we're kicking off the holidays with Dealnews' 5th annual Black Friday predictions.
If you're wondering how low big-screen HDTVs can go, how much you'll have to spend on a decent laptop, or whether you'll actually see a discount on an iPad, then you've come to the right place. We also have predictions for smartphones, eBook readers, game systems, and more.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is big. Colossally big. It's important to get that description out of the way because anyone who sees or holds the Galaxy Note II will have no choice but to be taken aback by how large is the phone-meets-tablet.
The same predicament made doubters believe that the original Galaxy Note was too big to succeed, but millions of phones sold later, that proved to be a false prediction. The Galaxy Note II is a smooth and dynamic experience from top to bottom. It's probably too big as a phone or too small as a tablet for most, but many will find it's a comfortable compromise between the two form factors.
The major issue with SSD adoption over the past few years has been price, the astronomically high price when you are counting in hundreds of gigabytes. In today's comparison review we are going to look at 8 popular SSDs that cost $100 or less and feature capacities of up to 128GB.
The contenders include the OCZ Vertex 4 128GB, Samsung 840 120GB and Crucial m4 128GB. The most affordable high-capacity SSD featured in our roundup is the Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB, while the OCZ Vertex 4 64GB, Crucial m4 64GB and Samsung 830 64GB should all offer stellar performance for under $80.
Besides not offering a way to bypass the new Windows 8 Start screen (not without the help of third-party utilities), surprisingly Microsoft is also limiting your options when it comes to customizing its appearance. You can choose from a couple color schemes and 10 stock background images, but that's about it. We've seen some workarounds before but they are cumbersome and the results are less than optimal.
Enter Decor8. Stardock’s Windows 8 customization app removes this limitation by giving users the ability to pick any picture they want as the Start screen background.
Last weekend I was feeling a bit nostalgic and fired up Windows 2000 on my home computer. Win2k has a special place in my heart. Sadly, due to planned obsolescence it's no longer possible to use this fantastic operating system with the latest software available.
Be that as it may, what annoys me even more are the "improvements" made to Windows search through the years. The search box in Windows 2000 is very powerful, there are no cute animations and there are no exclusions. It's just no-nonsense search, as you would expect it to be. I'm afraid to say, Windows search has got worse, and not better over the years, 8 included.
People, especially gamers, seem to be afraid of change. That's understandable when it comes to the Halo franchise. Halo is a legacy. When Bungie introduced the sci-fi, FPS franchise over a decade ago, it wowed fans with a perfect formula of alien creatures and versatile weapons. It became a household name, and for good reason.
So change seems like it would be scary. Like it might ruin the integrity of something that's formed such an impressive community. Fortunately hardcore Halo fans can rest assured that 343 has stayed true to the core of Halo, and I urge them to keep an open mind when confronted by its new skin. Because that skin is beautiful.
When Microsoft launched Windows 8 last week, it was the culmination of a long wait. For most folks, it was a rather jarring thrust into the future. For better or worse, the operating system that introduces the touch-oriented Metro UI to the Windows environment had arrived.
No one is more excited about the launch than Microsoft. The company has launched pop-up holiday stores at malls across America to promote the new OS and the Surface RT. I had a chance to check in with one at Aventura Mall in Miami, Florida.
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