Sunday, October 27, 2013

ASUS Nexus 7 2013


Why You'll Dig it:

Sharpest screen we’ve ever seen
Apart from the "Nexus" logo on the back of the tablet (now orientated vertically rather than horizontally), there initially appears little to distinguish this Nexus 7 from its predecessor. But on closer inspection, the plastic build is noticeably thinner and less creaky than before, while the dimpled rear finish of the older model has been replaced by a smooth rubbery surface. It’s still a little slippery though.

Annoyingly, the volume and power buttons are hard to find by feel alone and don’t give enough feedback when pressed. Another design quirk is the continued absence of an SD card slot. It would be wise to buy the 32GB model, which costs around US$400, if you plan to carry lots of media files and games around. Otherwise you’ll have to use online storage or juggle apps and files constantly.

Another irritant is the very thin borders on either side of the screen when it’s held vertically. If you prefer to hold a tablet with your thumbs resting on the border, rather than gripping it like a phone, then you’ll find yourself accidentally tapping one of the onscreen controls. It’s an annoyance that would have been avoided if the Nexus had bigger borders or a touchscreen that’s smart enough to realize when you’ve accidentally grazed it.

The Nexus 7’s best new feature is its high-resolution screen. At 1920x1200 pixels, it’s easily the sharpest of any 7in or 8in tablet screen we’ve seen so far. Text is exceptionally crisp, while photos and videos look vibrant and rich. The screen is almost painfully bright at its highest brightness setting, so it’s more than good enough when turned down halfway to conserve battery life. Battery life was one of the original Nexus 7’s few weaknesses. Rival mini tablets easily surpassed its so-so battery life (seven hours when playing videos continuously). The new model is much better, lasting 10 hours and 38 minutes. This is still behind the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the iPad Mini, which last for 11 and 12 hours respectively, but neither has a screen as good as the Nexus 7’s.

The first Nexus 7 only had a frontfacing camera for use when making video calls, but the new model also has a five-megapixel, rear-facing camera. It’s not good enough for regular use as your main camera, however.

We’d have forgiven the Nexus 7 for a less-than-perfect performance given its low price, but its quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and 2GB of memory sped through our benchmark tests. The Nexus 7 is more than fast enough for playing the latest 3D games. In everyday use, we only occasionally encountered lag and stuttering when navigating the interface and apps.

Get new Android versions early
One of the best things about the Nexus is that you’ll get new versions of Android quickly. With other Android tablets you’ll have to wait weeks or even months for updates and some models will never get updated at all. New Android versions often include security patches as well as new features.Having said that, the new Android version included with the Nexus 7 – 4.3 Jelly Bean – is only a minor upgrade over 4.2, but there’s one handy new feature parents will appreciate, which is that you can now create a restricted account for kids, choosing which apps they can access. It’s not a complete child-control package. You can’t create a list of websites they’re allowed to visit, for example, but it’s still a useful feature to have. This builds on the user accounts feature introduced in 4.2, which let different members of your household have their own separate set of apps and files protected with a personal password.

However, one flaw with the Nexus 7, and indeed all other Android tablets, is the continuing lack of apps designed for large, high-resolution tablet screens. The number and quality of Android tablet apps is slowly improving, but the iPad still has a better selection.

Conclusion
The new Nexus 7 isn’t perfect, but its design is mostly blighted by niggling limitations rather than serious flaws. Overall it’s an excellent-value tablet, but if you’re keen on downloading apps and enjoying media files, you’re better off skipping the US$250 16GB model and paying around US$50 extra for the 32GB model.


Where To Get it?

  

Specs


Screen resolution: 1920x1200 pixels
Cameras: 1.2-megapixel forward facing; five-megapixel rear facing
Battery life (video playback) :10h 38m
Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core
Video connector: HDMI using micro USB adapter (not included)
NFC: Yes
Separate 4G model: O2 exclusive, US$400

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Zotac GeForce GTX 680 4GB


Why You'll Dig it:

Experience game-changing performance with the amplified Zotac GeForce GTX 680 4GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 AMP! Edition Graphics Card. Powered by the powerful GeForce architecture, it redefines smooth, seamless and lifelike gaming. It raises the performance bar with NVIDIA GPU Boost technology that maximizes clock speeds on the fly for maximum performance in every gaming scenario. NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync technology adapts the monitor's vertical sync dramatically to current frame rates for maximum gaming smoothness and playability. Take your gaming experience to the next level with NVIDIA Surround technology for an unmatched immersive gaming experience.

To stand a chance in any PvP scenario, you need a graphics card that won’t fail at frames when it matters most. Big, widescreen displays are the standard now, so to push the necessary pixels in most modern games, getting a GPU with enough horsepower is your top priority. Because Crazy 8 was destined to be a respectable gaming rig, this was our top priority, too.

Based on the success of the LAN Party Boxster, we went back to ZOTAC to find a quality thoroughbred from the company’s stables. In the end, we decided on the GeForce GTX 680 4GB, a card with plenty of Kepler kick, a modest factory overclock, and a super-sized frame buffer to boot.

The GK104 GPU at the heart of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4GB has been one of the dominant forces in PC gaming. The GTX 680 boasts 1,536 CUDA cores and a base clock of 1,006MHz, the GTX 670 has 1,344 CUDA cores at its disposal, as well as a base clock of 915MHz.

As far as that memory subsystem is concerned, if you haven’t already guessed by now, it’s significant that ZOTAC took the time to mention this GTX 680’s frame buffer size right in the product name. At 4GB, the GeForce GTX 680 4GB offers twice as much VRAM as the standard GTX 670. That extra frame buffer should come in handy when you want to run games at high resolutions and then set all the visual effects dials to "Insane".

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4GB has the necessary muscle for your 3D heavy lifting. Whether as a single card or the first half of a future SLI setup, it gives gamers that vital edge necessary to dominate.


Where To Get it?

Specs


GPU: GK104;
Core clock: 928MHz/1,006MHz
(Base/Boost);
Memory: 4GB GDDR5;
Memory clock: 2,004MHz;
Memory bus: 256-bit;
Display outputs: 2 DVI (1 DVI-D, 1DVI-I), 1 HDMI 1.4a, 1 DisplayPort 1.2

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB


Why You'll Dig it:

How is it that a company that’s been in business for nearly two and half decades and now makes some of the fastest consumer SSDs manages to fly under the radar of so many power users? Those of you already familiar with Other World Computing (aka OWC) already know the answer.

See, OWC, which is headquartered in Woodstock (Illinois, that is, not that Woodstock) is one of the leading online Mac retailers. In fact, OWC’s URL is www.mac sales.com. Mac fanatics know that OWC is a veritable one-stop shop for all things Mac—software, accessories, component upgrades, etc. That said, even the PC faithful owe it to themselves to get acquainted with OWC; as we mentioned, OWC has an impressive line of solid-state drives. The Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G just happens to be one of the fastest SSDs we’ve ever tested.

The cheetah’s out of the bag, as it were, but let’s take a closer look at what makes this animal so wickedly fast. SandForce’s SF-2200 controller, which needs no introduction at this point, is the Hemi under the Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G’s hood. The SF-2200 is the controller of choice for the vast majority of today’s cutting-edge enthusiast SSDs, so we’re not terribly surprised to see it here. The Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G is also outfitted with synchronous NAND flash, which gives it a nice boost when you’re dealing with data that’s already compressed.

OWC advertises 479MBps and 282MBps peak read and write speeds, respectively, with a workload of incompressible data.

The Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G’s performance alone makes it a legitimate contender, but OWC has a few more tricks up its sleeve. For starters, OWC lets you take this SSD for a 30-day spin around your own personal test track, and if you don’t like it, OWC will take it back and give you a full refund. Because we can’t imagine a sane person actually returning this drive, what type of warranty are we looking at, OWC? What’s that you say, five years? Why, thank you—you really are too kind.

In a ridiculously crowded, unbelievably competitive SSD market, OWC stands out as one of the leaders. Keep a close eye on this company. We’re guessing the bestkept secret in solid-state storage won’t be a secret much longer.

Video Review



Where To Get it?

Product Details and Features


Key Features
HDD Form Factor : 2.5'
Capacity : 240 GB
Designation : Laptop Computer
Type : SSD (Solid State Drive)
Interface : Serial ATA
Enclosure : External
Technical Features
External Data Transfer Rate : 300 MBps
Interface (Detailed): Serial ATA II • Serial ATA 3
Other Features
Platform : PC, Mac
Brand : OWC
Package Qty. : 1
Dimensions
Height : 0.37 in.
Depth : 3.94 in.
Width : 2.76 in.
Weight : 0.176 lb

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