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September, 2011

Sony Reader Wi-Fi review: in-depth first look

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Sony Reader Wi-Fi

The announcement of the new Amazon Kindles caused all manner of excitement in the PC Pro office this week, until we realised Amazon actually had no plans to release the most exciting products in the UK. What a let-down. Still, that does at least give other manufacturers a chance to steal a march, and that appears to be exactly what Sony has done with its new Reader Wi-Fi, of which we have an early sample.

The first thing to notice when you pick up the Reader Wi-Fi is how light it is. It tipped our scales at just 162g, which makes the current Kindle look positively portly. With no keyboard it’s small enough to slip into an inside jacket pocket, and although it does feel a touch plasticky, it’s well made and the soft-touch plastic rear gives you a nice grippy surface to hold onto.


Pierre Cardin: has it got designs on Apple’s iPhone?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Apple and Samsung’s recent spat over patents and design has made plenty of headlines, but a new arrival in the PC Pro Lab has reminded us that some devices take more “inspiration” from the iPhone than others.
The latest offender comes from fashion label Pierre Cardin, and it’s clear that its designer is a fan of Cupertino’s products.
Remove the 7in tablet from its snazzy leather case and you’ll see what we mean. The glass front, chrome-effect border and black rear all remind us of a certain smartphone, and there are obvious clues elsewhere, too: the home button looks awfully familiar, and the power, menu and back buttons on the edge of the machine aren’t far removed from Apple’s volume buttons.
So, what do you think – will Apple attack this rival with the sort of vigour that’s normally reserved for Samsung, or will the lawyers let this one go? L

Pierre Cardin tablet and Apple iPhone 4Apple and Samsung’s recent spat over patents and design has made plenty of headlines, but a new arrival in the PC Pro Labs has reminded us that some devices take more “inspiration” from the iPhone than others.

Pictured above and below is Apple’s iPhone 4, sat atop of Pierre Cardin’s 7in tablet. Need I say any more.


Has Ballmer lost the dressing room?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Steve Ballmer stage

There are six words a football manager never wants to read about himself in a newspaper: “he has lost the dressing room”. Reports of mutiny in the ranks are almost inevitably followed days later with another six-word epitaph: “spending more time with his family”.

Will Steve Ballmer’s three kids soon have more quality time to spend with their dad? Judging by the reaction to last week’s annual employees’ meeting at Microsoft, it’s looking increasingly likely.

The influential Mini-Microsoft blog posts a largely upbeat account of last week’s gathering. Yes, people were reported to be “streaming out” of the hall before the event had finished, although only in “small numbers”, and as the blog points out, it was “nowhere near as bad as BillG’s last company meeting where Ballmer started screaming at people to sit down”.


Liquid nitrogen, 8GHz and plenty of putty: the world’s fastest processor

Monday, September 26th, 2011

It’s rare that we see a review system that doesn’t pack an overclocked punch, but the launch of AMD’s Bulldozer-powered FX processors saw the firm use gallons of Liquid Nitrogen to break the world record and run its new FX-8150 at a ridiculous 8.429GHz.
That potent fluid is the preserve of the world’s most skilled overclockers and, before its record-breaking attempt, AMD held a test run in front of a small London audience – one of the first times, in fact, that the firm’s overclocking guru Sami Makinen had pushed Bulldozer to its limits.
While Makinen didn’t hit the same heights he managed during the Guinness-monitored attempt, he still took the new chip to a staggering 8GHz clock speed. He tried for 8.2GHz, but the sample he was using begun to crash.
Take a look at our pictures to see exactly what’s involved with extreme overclocking, from putty around the CPU to canisters of potent LN2 – and check out that temperature, too: a chilly -180

AMD FX 2It’s rare that we see a review system that doesn’t pack an overclocked punch, but the launch of AMD’s Bulldozer-powered FX processors saw the firm use gallons of liquid nitrogen to break the world record for the highest frequency computer processor – previously held by a Celeron – and run its new FX-8150 at a ridiculous 8.429GHz. (more…)

Is this the first sign of a touchscreen Chromebook?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Chrome 15 apps

Those of you on the beta channel of Google Chrome may have noticed the new-look homescreen on version 15 of the browser. Gone is the single page containing your most-visited websites, apps and bookmarks. In its place comes a tabbed-based homepage that allows you to flick between the various options.

One thing is immediately obvious from this revamped design: Google is designing for touchscreens. Look at those large finger-friendly icons for the bookmarks — which aren’t entirely dissimilar to the bookmarks in the early betas of Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8.


Windows 8, Flash and Silverlight: some very bad news

Monday, September 19th, 2011

IE 10

In amongst the flood of details emerging about Windows 8 is the news that the IE 10 browser in the lightweight Metro front-end won’t support plugins. In the scheme of things this might sound pretty small beer, but it’s hugely significant for the long term future of Rich Internet Application (RIA) development and for the web in general.

Most immediately it’s another kick in the teeth for Flash, still reeling from Apple’s iOS ban. It’s not exactly a death blow, as the Windows 8 desktop version of IE will still support the player, but it’s clearly another major disincentive for developers who believed Flash was as universal as HTML.

Understandably all the focus has been on Flash, but even more telling and extraordinary is the realisation that the new no-plugin policy means that the Metro browser won’t even support Microsoft’s own cross-platform RIA technology, Silverlight!

So just what is going on?


Four things Microsoft must do to make Windows 8 work

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Windows 8 laptop

As I said in my 10 best features of Windows 8 blog, there’s much to admire about Microsoft’s new operating system. But, as David Bayon rightly notes in his first look at Windows 8 on a laptop, there’s plenty of problems too: some of them potential showstoppers.

Microsoft simply cannot afford to screw up Windows 8.  This is a massive, brave gamble by a traditionally conservative company. Here, in my opinion, is what the company has to do to ensure Windows 8 has the best possible chance of success:


Windows 8 on a laptop: first look

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

All the talk so far has centred around the wonderful new Metro UI, and how it could well be the nicest touch interface yet – but what of the vast majority of PCs and laptops that don’t have a touchscreen? Does Windows 8 relegate them to an afterthought, or can you carry on with mouse and keyboard as if touch never existed? To find out, I installed the developer preview on a 15in Core i5 laptop and plugged in a mouse.

Windows 8: Metro UI


The 10 best new features of Windows 8

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Windows 8 Start Screen

I’ve only had a short time to play with Windows 8, but it’s already apparent there are plenty of excellent new features in the next-gen operating system. There are several not so hot features, too, but I’ll deal with those in a separate blog post. In the meantime, here’s my pick of what I’ve seen so far.


Windows 8: apps and the Store

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Metro apps 2

As we discussed in the new interface section, Windows 8 now supports two different kind of applications: the new Metro Style apps and conventional desktop software. What’s more, Microsoft is launching its own Store to sell them both from.







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