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February, 2010

ATI Eyefinity on six screens: first look review

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

ATI Eyefinty Our previous encounter with Eyefinity came courtesy of a Chillblast machine which came with three monitors and enough gaming grunt to stretch the latest titles across its 5,760 x 1,080 native resolution.

ATI’s much-rumoured Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition boasts six DisplayPort outputs – although it’s a standard HD 5870 under the hood – and ATI visited the PC Pro Lab yesterday to demonstrate gaming at a mighty resolution of 5,760 x 2,160.

(more…)

Posted in: Hardware, Just in

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Nvidia rebrands yet more GPUs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

FermiFinally, after months of waiting, Nvidia has announced that two of its Fermi chips will be released at the end of March – but, to sate eager customers, the Californian firm has been busy churning out some new parts.

Except that they’re not new in the strictest definition of the word.

Instead, Nvidia has merely rebranded some of its older chips with bigger numbers for the benefit of OEMs – and to the detriment of people who’d naturally think that a GT 340 was more capable than the GT 240 or a GTX 295. Presumably, it’s an attempt to eke as much cash out of these older cores before the much-delayed Fermi arrives.

Take, for instance, the GeForce 310, which is the same part as the GeForce 210 and, consequently, uses the same GT218 core. Nvidia has even used the exact same picture for both of these GPUs on its website.

(more…)

Posted in: Rant

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What the Government really knows about broadband

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Today’s report into broadband – published by the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee – is an interesting read. Not only because it calls for the 50p broadband tax to be scrapped and reveals the Government hasn’t the first clue what its own 2Mbits/sec broadband pledge actually means, but because it uncovers an even deeper level of Government technical incompetence than we feared.

Take this table – credited to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – which appears on page 11 of the report and allegedly describes the capability of different internet connection speeds:

Broadband report table (more…)

Posted in: Newsdesk

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Harriton High’s privacy nightmare

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

education woman at computer

Two things occurred to me when I read about the high school accused of spying on one its students through their laptop webcam. The first was that it’s amazing how much fuss could have been avoided with a piece of sticky tape. The second was that, if this story pans out, evolution is utterly wasted on us.

For evidence let’s revisit the details of the story as they’ve been presented thus far. Blake Robbins, a 15-year-old student of Harriton High School in Pennsylvania is dragged into the vice principal’s office, where he is disciplined for “improper behaviour”.

(more…)

Posted in: Rant

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Alex: easy computing or easy money?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The Alex homepageLast week, our editor Tim Danton went to the launch of Alex, a new Linux-based operating system that aims to make computing much simpler for novices. Tim was very impressed by the ease-of-use of the new OS, but after a little deeper investigation, the cracks in the Alex scheme are beginning to appear.

Firstly, although the makers of Alex plan to eventually release the OS as standalone software, it’s currently only available when pre-installed on a laptop. And a pretty poor value laptop, at that.

Alex offers only one option: the £400 Clevo M760T. This boasts an ageing Intel Celeron T1600 1.66GHz processor, only 1GB of RAM and a paltry 120GB hard disk. By comparison, our A-Listed value laptop, the Acer Aspire 5536 offers a 2.1GHz Athlon X2 processor, 3GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk for only £20 more. (more…)

Posted in: Newsdesk

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Fibre broadband: why you might have to move your router

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

DLink_routerThose salivating over the prospect of 40 or even 100Mbits/sec broadband arriving down a BT fibre connection sometime soon, be warned: installation might not be quite as straightforward as you’d hoped.

BT’s fibre lines use VDSL, rather than the ADSL used to power today’s broadband.  That means BT can’t just flick a switch in the exchange like it normally does with ADSL upgrades: it needs to come into your home and fit a new faceplate on your master telephone socket.

The bad news is that with this set-up you can’t run your router off extension wiring any more – it must be plugged into the master socket. That’s a bit of an issue if, as in many homes, your master socket is inconveniently located in the hallway or kitchen. Not many people want their router sat next to the coat stand, and it’s a pain in the buttocks if you prefer a wired connection from your router to devices such as your PC or games console.

(more…)

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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Samsung P580 laptop: first look review

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Despite Samsung’s 2010 Forum in Vienna primarily highlighting the firm’s push towards 3D in the home, its latest business notebook, the P580, made a quiet debut alongside the flashy range of LED TVs, space-age microwaves and touchscreen-enabled refrigerators.

p580 open front

The P580 doesn’t boast an overwhelming range of bells and whistles, but more than makes up for it with a sleek, understated design and a solid, dependable specification. The models on show partnered Intel’s Core i5-520M processor with an Nvidia GT 330M graphics chipset, 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard disk with shock protection. 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.1 and Gigabit Ethernet were present too; the copy of Windows 7 Professional sealing the P580’s business credentials.

(more…)

Posted in: Random

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If the airport bomb tweeter’s going to jail, so should Charlie Brooker

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Aeroplane_Moody Sky

Charlie Brooker’s in trouble. At least if the precedent set by the police in the terror capital of Doncaster is anything to go by.

For in this morning’s Guardian, Brooker has threatened to kill a child. I read it with my own eyes in print, but in case you don’t believe me you can witness this vile death threat for yourself on The Guardian website.

And in case you can’t be bothered to scan through the article, here it is: “If I had a child like that, I’d divorce it. Or kill it. Whichever proved cheapest.”

(more…)

What you get when you buy a £25 iPhone down the pub

Friday, February 19th, 2010

“I’ve got an iPhone I want you to check out,” is not a request I hear very often.

I’m a happy user of both the original iPhone and the 3G successor – though, I confess, not an obsessive collector of App Store trinkets or hot tracks from the iTunes Store. Perhaps that’s why it took me a while to figure out exactly what I was looking at, when I paid a visit to my friend and glanced at the knock-off iPhone below.

Fake iPhone

Holding this up beside my iPhone 3G, it is seriously difficult to tell the two devices apart. The back panel of the mysterious phone very clearly labels it as a 32Gb iPhone, complete with Apple logo. My contact claimed to have bought this “down the pub for £25″ in an iPhone 3GS Apple box, and I would say that the exterior case is a millimetre perfect copy, with three basic distinguishing areas: the headphone socket, the power button, and the mute slider. It was the mute slider that convinced me of the phone’s “knock-off” status. (more…)

Posted in: Rant

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How to play HD video on a netbook

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

bigbuck bunny

Netbooks aren’t famed for their high-definition video playing prowess, but if you’ve got about $10 and a few minutes going spare, there is a way to enjoy high-definition trailers and videos on your Atom-powered portable.

You’ll need two things: a copy of Media Player Classic Home Cinema, and CoreCodec’s CoreAVC codec which you can purchase for the princely sum of $9.95.

(more…)

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