T-Mobile is updating its Samsung Galaxy S III to Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean.
The update is available OTA (Over-the-Air) or via the Kies app. The OTA T999UVDMD5 update will be pushed out over time to use and will continue until June 16. New Features of from Samsung are Multi-Window, Auto-pairing via NFC, enhanced Camera options, Sound Balance, Paper Artist, Samsung Gallery, Blocking Mode and Easy Mode. DO NOT STOP the process during the update, like we did with out ATT model (see video). You will not be able to make phone calls during the udpate process.Prerequisites for the Samsung Update are:
Device software is not rooted
50% battery life.
Latest version of Kies software downloaded on PC or MAC.
File size of update is 168 MB.
Android Jelly Bean 4.1 offers a better keyboard and is faster/smoother (read features). The update should also include a faster TouchWiz experience. New features include camera filters, low-light photo mode, an easy mode, call blocking, SWYPE keyboard, low light photo mode, video pause/resume and Pop Up Play sizing/resume. Here’s how to update your Samsung Galaxy S III via Kies:
Connect your Samsung Galaxy S III to your PC or laptop using the supplied USB cable. Ensure that Kies recognizes your Samsung device by looking in the upper section of the left-bar navigation menu. Your Samsung device should be listed.
Kies Device Once Kies recognizes the device you will see a screen stating new firmware is available.
Read through the Caution pop-up and, if you agree, click to populate the I have read all of the above information check box.
Read the Allow saving of information statement and select Allow saving or Proceed without saving and then click Start upgrade.
After a few minutes, Kies will then begin transferring the firmware binary to the Samsung device.
Then after a while the upgrade is completed.
If completed a data backup from your Samsung device to Kies prior to performing the update, you can now restore that data back to the device under the new Jelly Bean operating system.
The Cloud Is Killing The PC, And Giving It New Life
For several months we have been hearing about the imminent demise of the Personal Computer. After all, new computer sales dipped 14% last year, so surely the industry must be doomed, Doomed, DOOMED!
The personal computer industry has certainly slumped, but these are dynamic companies. It is probably unwise to write them off because of a slump. Looking at the reasons for the slump is instructive. Some believe that the market is being lost to mobile and cloud applications. This school of thought holds that the newer, smaller, and faster technology has rendered the PC obsolete.
No Reason To Upgrade In Today’s Economy
One of the most popular theories is that the personal computer industry is slumping because the rest of the economy is slumping. There is certainly merit to this assumption. In some ways, the personal computer industry has made itself redundant. Gamers, professional video editors, and computer scientists want and need the latest and fastest machines. The average computer user wants to check email, update their social media, input sales data or other spreadsheet type application at work, and maybe play a few hands of solitaire while the boss is looking the other way.
Unfortunately for computer manufacturers, five year old processors are more than able to do the job. In the past, new computer sales were driven by the need to upgrade hardware to keep up with the newest applications. The “Killer App” phenomena has always been a driver of technology sales. The current Killer App is the Cloud, and for now, the Cloud does not need a new personal computer to be useful.
Mobile and Cloud
Part of the wonder of Cloud computing is that most of the actual computing, processing and storage, takes place in the Cloud. This means the end user enjoys better and more up to date services without the need to continually upgrade hardware. This is bad news for companies which depend upon sales of new computers.
Another factor thought to be eating away at traditional PC’s is the rise of touchscreen mobile devices. Touching and swiping seem to be a more elegant way to interface than being tied to an old fashioned, clunky keyboard and mouse. Mobile devices are also a terrific way to interface with Cloud applications- their small size and relatively limited storage often require an Internet Cloud connection for maximum usefulness.
Is Bill Gates dream of a Windows PC on every desk top in the world becoming a thing of the past? Probably not. Although sales are slumping, the personal computer will remain an important tool for work, entertainment, and communication. Granted, most of the things that are done on a desktop personal computer can also be done on an inexpensive smartphone. As slick as a touch screen seems, for many important applications, the PC can be a more efficient interface than the cloud interface .
Microsoft has made upgrading to Windows 8 really easy with its upgrade tool, but if you have special needs and need a more traditional installation disc, you might not know where to look. Here’s how to create one.
You may not realise this (I didn’t), but the Windows 8 upgrade tool actually gives you the option to create a DVD or USB — you just have to get past the activation screen first. Here’s what you do:
Download the Windows 8 Installer from Microsoft’s web site and run it on an existing Windows system. It doesn’t actually have to be the PC you want to upgrade, even though it says so — heck, it can be a PC you’ve already upgraded to Windows 8.
If it prompts you for licence details, enter the key you received when you originally bought Windows 8.
Once you have passed the licensing screen, it will ask you how you want to install Windows 8. Choose “Install by Creating Media.”
It will now give you a choice between a flash drive or an ISO file. If you want to create a thumb drive, choose “USB Flash Drive” — if you want to create a DVD, choose “ISO File.”
If you chose the ISO file, you can now burn it to a DVD with a tool such as ImgBurn.
Note that if you create the installation media on a 32-bit PC, you’ll get a 32-bit ISO, and if you create it on a 64-bit PC you’ll get a 64-bit ISO. Also note that you won’t be able to use this disc to do a clean install on an empty hard drive if it’s an upgrade version of Windows 8, but you should be able to do a clean install over an existing copy of Windows.
Once you read the steps, the process is extremely obvious, but if you aren’t aware that the option exists, you might be confused about how to burn a more traditional disc (I know I was).
One of the greatest things about the PC is the sheer variety of hardware at our disposal. Whereas with a sealed-box console, or even a laptop PC, you’re stuck with the original hardware your device shipped with, you can upgrade your desktop machine ad infinitum.
Upgrading doesn’t have to be expensive either. Sure, you can drop £800 on a new top-end graphics card, or £1,500 on an octo-core Intel CPU, but you can get an awful lot of PC grunt for £100 or less.
SSD prices are dropping almost daily, you can pick up a huge amount of RAM for practically nothing, and GPU power is simply incredible at today’s ‘low-end’. We’ve put together our pick of the best £100-or-less upgrades for each important category, so sit back and enjoy. Then sit up, get out your screwdriver and upgrade.
PC cooling: a small upgrade makes a big difference
What’s the best upgrade if you’ve only got one hundred of her Majesty’s pounds to play with? Well, that’s actually a trickier question than it might seem. Realistically, and annoyingly, it’s a question that’s most likely to be answered with another question. Namely: what do you do most often with your PC and where are its main failings?
The instinctual answer for a PC gamer like me might be to spend the lot on a new graphics card, but realistically we need to know a few more things first. What card are you running in your rig and – almost as importantly – what screen are you plugging it into?
If you’re more into your image manipulation or video editing, a bigger screen with more desktop real estate or a good chunk of RAM might be a better investment.The thing is, there’s no point in spending the cash in one place if you’re still going to be horrifically limited by another part of your setup.
The easy example is someone sitting on a gaming rig running a lowly 19-inch 1,280 x 1,024 monitor. If you’ve got a graphics card capable of throwing around frame rates in the 40s at that resolution, then chucking in an even faster GPU is only going to make that experience marginally smoother, giving you little impact for your cash.
Dropping the £100 on a 21.5-inch screen running at the full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 would make everything you do with your PC far better. You are, after all, looking at your monitor for practically everything you do with your PC.
Keep the PC balance
Obviously, your games are going to run slower at that resolution, but you can always drop the graphical settings a little in favour of running at a higher res – or just cope with the slight blurring of running at a non-native res until you can afford to upgrade.
In terms of post-processing effects, you can drop AA settings when running a higher resolution too if you need to boost frame rates without negatively affecting image fidelity. The upgrade blade cuts both ways though, so if you’re struggling to hit gaming frame rates with your existing GPU and low-res screen then upping the resolution will just make things even more of a struggle. In that situation a new GPU is the only way to go for the gaming side of things.
Best monitor: 10 top displays reviewed and rated
Less sexy upgrades, like a new SSD or more RAM, are well worth a look if spending the cash in other places is going to wind up giving you an unbalanced rig. You may not get as much of a visual impact from such an upgrade, but the day-to-day benefits can be considerable.
If you’re a laptop user, these kinds of upgrades can make a huge difference. Storage and memory are pretty much your only options for upgrading your notebook, but dropping an SSD into your machine can give you the double-whammy of faster boot times and an even longer operating battery life. More RAM will make everything feel a little quicker on a portable device, and might mean you won’t have to buy a whole new laptop for a little while longer.
PC Cooling and clocking
There are other relatively inexpensive options for extending the life of your existing desktop components too – overclocking your CPU can give you the extra bit of performance that might put off that expensive upgrade.
Dropping less than £50 on a closed-loop liquid CPU cooler will give you the thermal headroom you need to indulge in a spot of the ol’ chip-cooking. That should give you a performance boost without you spending a huge amount of cash.
The outside counts too
You don’t need to simply spend cash on your internal components either. If you’ve already got a decent GPU, an SSD, a good chunk of RAM and a reasonable HD monitor then you’re not going to be gaining anything dropping £100 on your internals.
There are still some effective upgrades that won’t require you to wield a screwdriver. A good quality keyboard can be a joy to use. Whether you just use your machine for gaming or you like to indulge in a little light wordplay on the side, a decent keyboard is a worthy investment. I’m a big fan of mechanical switch keyboards, but they are on the pricey side. You can, however, pick them up for less than the £100 mark we’ve set ourselves in this upgrade session. Personally, I think Gigabyte’s latest is one of the finest keyboard I’ve ever used, and while £100 for a board is a lot of cash, it’s something that will probably outlast most of the other upgrade options in this feature.
The keyboard and mouse combo is the hallmark of PC gaming, and spending a decent amount of cash on a quality mouse will deliver its own rewards. I was happy gaming with an old Microsoft Intellimouse for years, but as soon as I laid my twisted claw on a Logitech G9, I was hooked on weighty, accurate gaming mice.
You don’t need to go all the way up to £100 for a rodent that will enhance your experience. We’ve split up the categories over the page, offering our pick of the best £100 or so upgrades for each. What we can’t do, however, is tell you which is necessarily right for you and your rig.
The beauty of the PC is that no matter what system you’ve got now, there is probably an upgrade out there that will improve your system for under a ton.
PC Graphics card
Pint-sized pixel-pushers for less than a ton
For any PC gamer, the graphics card is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about upgrading your machine. We’ve hit the end of this last generation of graphics cards, and with the new AMD and Nvidia GPUs coming sometime around the tail-end of this year, prices are about as low as they’re likely to get.
That said, we could see new silicon filling the gaps in this generation, like the HD 7870XT, but that may still not drive prices down. This generation has seen AMD become a far more aggressive competitor over price than it has in the past, and that means us consumers get far more graphical grunt for our money going for a Radeon card over an equivalently priced GeForce card.
The example in the sub-£100 market is the HD 7770 going up against the GTX 650. That’s a complete mismatch in terms of gaming performance, with the Radeon card posting significantly better results in the latest games than the Nvidia GPU. At 1080p resolutions and the graphics settings on full there’s at least a 10fps difference between the two GPUs in most titles. Batman: Arkham City is the exception, but in other Nvidia and AMD-sponsored titles, the gap is at least as wide.
When that’s around 25fps for the AMD card against the 14fps for the Nvidia, the difference is essentially between being able to play and not being able to play at all.
The fact though that you can nail playable frame rates at the top settings – and that includes 4x AA as standard in our gaming benchmarks – at the familiar 1,920 x 1,080 resolution is fantastic. And it shows just how much graphical power is available for such a relatively small outlay these days. This is the sort of performance that we were seeing from the £200 to £250 graphics cards found in the previous generation. If that’s the jump in performance from the last generation to this, what about the new GPUs that are on their way?
From what we’ve heard, the new HD 8000 and GTX 700 series of cards – from AMD and Nvidia respectively – are unlikely to herald the sort of performance improvements we’ve seen in the last round. The new graphics cards are only set to offer incremental improvements, so we wouldn’t expect to see much more graphics pace coming out of the £100 segment in six months’ time, unless you can find a cheap HD 7850 1GB under the ton mark.
That AMD card is our budget choice if you can stretch to the £125 it currently costs, as it absolutely hoses the competition in all of our benchmarks – it even offers playable frame rates at the crazy-high resolution of 2,560 x 1,600.
With a strict £100 limit on your upgrade, the HD 7770 won’t disappoint – it’s a proper gaming-capable GPU offering amazing performance for a great price.
Cores for cash – that’s the mantra for the budget CPU hunter
When we were considering the various components to include in this feature, we agonised over whether or not to include processors and motherboards. Harsh words were spoken, mugs were thrown and tea and blood were spilt.
They are quite obviously the key upgrades for a PC, but generally when you’re upgrading one it makes sense that you upgrade the other. And trying to keep below the £100 budget and pick up a decent mobo/CPU combo would be practically impossible, especially when you consider you’re looking to improve the performance of your current rig.
In the end, we decided that including motherboards in the test would be an exercise in futility – if you’re not upgrading the processor there’s probably very little to be gained by changing motherboard as well.
On the flip side, we’ve kept in the CPU category for precisely the opposite reason. AMD has kept the same CPU socket for a few generations now, so older boards are still compatible with more modern CPUs, and you can pick up a decent AMD processor for less than £100. In terms of Intel, that’s below where the bottom-end starts.
If you’re looking to upgrade your CPU, there’s probably not a lot of choices for your current Intel board as it’s likely not going to be pin-compatible with the latest CPUs from the same company.
PC Core values
So, as with the graphics card market, AMD gets the value crown. If you’ve got an AMD AM3 board from the last year or so, there’s a good chance that you’ll just need a wee BIOS update to allow compatibility with the latest FX chips.
If you’re looking to move up from an old Phenom X6, you may not necessarily be gaining a huge amount – the previous generation of AMD processors had superior single threaded performance, which is arguably more influential in gaming. But pick up anything below the top-end of the last AMD CPU generation and you’re laughing.
The FX-6300 uses the updated Bulldozer tech – codenamed Piledriver – and is the finest £100 CPU around. It will happily run up to a 5GHz overclock, and at that speed it will post games performance almost rivalling an Intel Core i5-3570K at stock speeds. For such a relatively modest upgrade cost, you’re getting an awful lot of CPU technology, and a hell of a lot of multi-threaded performance for your cash too.
That multi-threaded performance will also come in handy if you’re looking for your machine to do more things other than gaming. For any multi-threaded application, the Piledriver tech really makes use of those six threads of processing goodness – especially if you start waving that good ol’ overclocking stick about in earnest.
The performance boost this budget CPU can give an ageing AMD system is thoroughly impressive and is well worth the cash if you’ve got a motherboard that is capable of supporting it. AMD has been good in supporting the upgrade path, so it’s worth investing in. A little extra processor performance will also always help keep your performance graphics card filled with data too.
More, more, more! Can you ever have too much memory?
Memory is probably one of the least sexy of the upgrades on offer. After all, unless you’re foolish enough to be trying to run an APU as fully fledged gaming system, then you’re not going to get much benefit from boosting the memory inside your beloved rig. Or are you?
Memory performance is a lot more opaque when it comes to assessing how it affects your computing experience – it’s more about what you do with your PC and how you use it. For most of us, 4GB is a perfectly adequate amount of memory to be jamming in your rig, but with prices of DRAM being so low these days – especially for the sort of performance RAM we’re talking about here – you’re never going to lose out sticking a good chunk more memory in your rig.
Granted, dropping £200 on a 32GB kit is probably going a tad overboard, but when you can pick up an 8GB upgrade for less than £40 it’s certainly well worth a gander.
Gaming is probably the least memory intensive thing you do with your PC – after all, most of the games that we’re playing these days have been put together with the last generation of consoles very much in mind. Those sealed boxes are so memory limited that developers have worked around the scarcity of DRAM, and so the resulting titles that hit the PC aren’t so bothered about system RAM and are more interested in what your GPU is up to. For those sorts of games, 4GB is really all you’re going to need.
That said, there are some PC-specific titles that very much benefit from a memory upgrade. Titles like my beloved Football Manager, with its heavy emphasis on computation and data processing, soak up any memory on offer. And if you’re doing anything that requires multi-tasking and switching between programs – or anything that requires a lot of computational work – then more RAM is always handy.
Although we’re talking up desktop upgrades in this feature, memory is also one of the few upgrades anyone can do to their laptop. Doubling the RAM on offer in your portable machine can really make a difference to how it performs, and again needn’t cost the earth to install.
But as I said, this is all about the desktop and in that market Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical LP range has really captured our imagination in recent months. As CPU coolers get ever larger and impinge on the DIMM slots of your mobo, a set of low profile RAM modules can really help. It also helps that these low profile modules are so darn good.
This kit is rated at 1,600MHz, but is capable of running at much higher frequencies – we had the 8GB modules running at 2,133MHz without trying. Because they’re low-voltage they can be pushed when it comes to overclocking. They’re pretty low latency too, and that’s arguably more important than raw speed.
Sub-£100 SSDs are no longer the tiny, slow devices they used to be
The solid state drive market is probably the most vibrant of all sectors of the PC components landscape, and that means it’s also the fastest moving. Which can make it both good and bad news for the consumer. More specifically, that’s bad news for the early-adopter as new technology is rolling around at a rate of knots.
This makes your latest performance SSD purchase effectively obsolete almost by the time you unwrap it and jam a Windows installation on it. But for the rest of us, it’s great news as we can then get the top drives of the last generation – which, let’s not forget, are still quality examples of SSD-dom – for a fraction of the price they once retailed at. It also means that where we were once scrabbling around for storage space for both our OS and a handful of games on a 64GB SSD, we can now look to spread out a bit more with 120 to 128GB drives now dropping below the £100 mark.
We’ve had SandForce drives knocking around the £70 mark for a 120GB drive – something like the Kingston HyperX – for a while now. And though they’re definitely decent drives, especially for the money, they don’t represent the pinnacle of SSD controller technology any more. For that you’ve got to be looking towards the likes of Marvell, Samsung and the OCZ-owned Indilinx.
Now that those guys are tossing out new SSD memory controllers that are toppling the SandForce stranglehold, we’re seeing prices drop once more. But what’s the benefit of an SSD upgrade?
Well, it depends on your starting point. If you’ve yet to take the plunge then it’s a great time to make the upgrade from your existing mechanical hard drive. The difference between booting your PC and your games from an SSD over an HDD is practically night and day, but in general day-to-day use you’ll notice your PC is much faster and more responsive too.
The easy example is the classic virus check. Originally, checking for viruses took forever, because the whole system was bottlenecking around the spinning platters of your hard drive. With solid-state storage, the bottleneck has been shifted to how fast your CPU can churn through the data the solid-state drive is throwing at it. Run a check on a rig with a HDD, and the CPU utilisation will hover around 15 per cent – chuck that onto a PC with an SSD, and the CPU will max out if you let it.
Lean on me
If you were worried about taking the plunge because of reliability fears, you can probably relax now. SSD failure rates are now below that of HDDs, and the performance degradation that used to accompany the early drives has more or less been eradicated.
So what do we recommend? Well, right now OCZ’s Vector is the finest SSD around, but it’s only just ahead of its older Vertex 4 stablemate – and you can pick up that excellent drive for less than £100 in 128GB trim. And because it’s running on a Marvell controller with Indilinx firmware, it’s a lot more versatile than an equivalent SandForce-based drive.
The Vertex 4 128GB then is a top-performing SSD, with enough storage for your OS and the games your playing right now for a bargain price.
OCZ Vertex 4 128GB Price: £96 Manufacturer: OCZ Web: www.ocztechnology.com Capacity: 128GB Controller: Marvell with OCZ/Indilinx firmware Memory: Synchronous MLC NAND Interface: SATA 6Gbps Form factor: 2.5-inch
PC. CPU cooling
Chilling your chips for fun and frosty frolics
There are multiple reasons why you should think about upgrading the cooling in your PC, and considering that effective new solutions are available for less than £50, it’s also one of the cheapest upgrades you can make to your machine. So why would you want to upgrade your PC’s cooler?
If you’ve stuck with the stock cooler that arrived with your CPU – or the budget cooler that came with your rig when you first purchased it – then it’s probably not giving your CPU a lot of protection when it’s getting ragged. A decent performance CPU cooler, by its very definition, will keep your processor running cooler than with a stock option.
If you’re getting flaky performance from your rig when you really stress it, a quality cooler could solve all your problems. A decent cooler will also run a lot quieter than a budget or stock chiller. That could be because of an improved fin-stack and heatsink array, or because it ships with a bigger fan. Larger fans don’t need to spin as quickly to shift the same amount of air across the heatsink, they therefore run far quieter than fans spinning at maximum speed.
A quieter-running rig may not be your primary requirement for your gaming PC, but it sure can make a difference to your experience when you’re actually getting to hear the game and not the turbine roar of your chip cooler every time CPU load rises above 2 per cent.
Performance is going to be your primary concern with a gaming PC, and a decent CPU cooler can really make a difference. The origins of CPU overclocking came from people who couldn’t afford to upgrade, trying to squeeze the last drop of performance from their existing rig.
A quality cooler will allow you to get the most out of your processor and extend its life, even if you might be shortening its actual operating life. A processor running at a higher frequency generates far more heat than it does running at its stock speeds, and if your cooler can’t cope with this excess heat and shift it away from the CPU, then it will probably fall over. If you can upgrade to a cooler that allows you to keep running your processor at 1GHz over the base clockspeed, then you’re going to get a good chunk of extra performance out of it.
Modern air-coolers are excellent at shifting heat around, as well as remaining relatively quiet while they’re at it – but a closed-loop liquid chiller will go that extra mile especially in terms of overclocking. Where once liquid-cooling was the realm of the serial tinkerer or the clinically insane, closed-loop systems now require no real maintenance and are no more expensive than their air-cooled brethren.
Last month, we checked out the Cooler Master Seidon 120M, and it’s a fantastically effective chiller, despite the single fan, for a bargain price. It’s easy to fit and very good at what it does.
Resident technocrat, and all-round monitor-snob, Jeremy Laird, has long been of the opinion that a good monitor is a purchase that will most likely outlast the rest of the PC you’re plugging it in to. It’s the window to your digital world – and it’s also one of the few upgrades you can make to your rig that you will use every single time you come to switch the thing on. So investing in a decent monitor is surely a sound idea.
With that said then you could argue that the £100 limit is a bit tight in this instance – you should really be spending as much as you can afford to pick up the best monitor you can. Prices of monitors though are at a point where you can grab a 22-inch screen for a ton – and we’re not talking the VGA-only, 1,680 x 1,050 screens here either. You can pick up a full HD panel with all the inputs your heart could desire. Okay, maybe not if your twisted heart desires the newness of DisplayPort or Thunderbolt, that is.
The only difficulty is that graphics performance is inextricably linked to monitor resolution, and with flatscreens you really want to be gaming at the native res of your screen for the best results. If you’ve been gaming on a lowly 1,280 x 1,024 screen, then there’s a good possibility that your GPU won’t be able to keep pace with a full HD panel. If you’ve been running at 1,680 x 1,050, then there’s not a lot more strain being placed on your graphics card moving up to a 1080p resolution.
And a larger resolution isn’t just great for gaming, that extra screen real estate is incredibly liberating when it comes to regular desktop use too. Having more displayed on screen is always a bonus, and with the widescreen setup having multiple windows sat side-by-side, it makes things easier too.
If you’re not bound by a tight £100 limit though there are alternatives out there too. At the moment there’s a glut of affordable IPS screens around, offering response times around the same speed as the budget TN panels, but with far better viewing angles and colour reproduction.
There’s no denying IPS screens give better visual fidelity than a budget TN screen, and Viewsonic’s excellent VX2370Smh is available for just around £136. It’s quite incredible how cheap IPS screens have become.
But if £100 is your limit, the Iiyama E2278HD is a great budget screen too and wont leave you too far behind, it’s a full HD monitor with a decent display. It may be a lowly TN, but with a full HD panel and an LED backlight it’s still a very crisp, reliable monitor. And if you’re making the step up from something smaller with a low resolution, the 22-inch Iiyama will definitely satisfy those big screen cravings.
It may not have the top-end tech of an IPS screen, or the styling of an expensive bezel-less panel, but for £100 it’s a bargain. There’s also the fact that multi-screen desktop set ups are far more useful than having just a single screen.
Being able to pick up a 22-inch, full-HD monitor for just £100 is incredible and will help any and all kinds of multi-tasking you care to throw your PC’s way. So whether it’s a main screen upgrade or the addition of a second screen to your desktop set up, £100 is all you need to spend.
Buying a new chassis for your PC is less of an upgrade and more of a full body transplant, but a new case can make it feel like an entirely new machine. And while you can spend an absolute fortune on a new chassis, it can also be one of the most inexpensive upgrades for your PC.
It need not just be a cosmetic change either, a new chassis can be upgraded for entirely functional reasons. When you’re putting together a machine yourself, chances are you’ve allocated more of your budgetary resources to the internal components. You know, the ones that make all your games look awesome like your graphics card – so you may well end up with a bit of a dog of a chassis once you’ve assembled your new machine.
That’s not such a problem when you first build a rig, and hell, most of us are going to be more interested in what’s happening on screen than what our PC looks like to the naked eye. But aside from being less appealing than a dose of gonorrhea, a budget chassis will come without a lot of the improvements we’ve come to expect from a quality case.
A lot of budget chassis will ship without adequate cooling, and some may even ship without any exhaust fans either. When it comes to getting the most out of your components, decent airflow is vital for keeping everything chilled inside. Even with the best CPU air-cooler around, you need somewhere for all that heat to be vented out safely, and externally.
High air flow
But combine a new chassis with a new cooler for your CPU and you’ll be getting really close to accessing the full potential of your processor. The added thermal headroom you’ll gain from having effective cooling in your machine will really allow for some serious overclocking. Good airflow is always going to be beneficial for the other components too, especially if you can get a good flow going across the GPU too.
There’s also the matter of PSU placement. As the heaviest part of your PC, it’s become general practice to place the power supply at the base of the rig to improve stability. A lot of budget chassis – even new ones like the Cooler Master Force that’s just been launched – still jam the PSU right up into the roof of the case.
So what’s our budget recommendation then? You can easily spend up to the £100 budget on a new performance chassis, and there are plenty to choose from. Bitfenix does an excellent range of cases, including our favourite wobbly mini ITX chassis – the Prodigy. Corsair has also put together a brilliant range of affordable and downright desirable cases too, though sadly, the amazingly beautiful Graphite 600T is a little over our budget at £135, beautiful though it is.
Cooler Master has the classic High AirFlow (HAF) series of cases, and at just £63, the HAF 912 Plus is an absolute bargain of a chassis, and will comfortably house all but the most awkward of PC configurations. The HAF 912 Plus comes with a chunky 200mm fan on the front and a 120mm fan exhausting from the rear, as well as space for a large top-mounted fan or liquid-cooling radiator. The looks may still be a little polarising, but it’s striking at the very least.
Cooler Master HAF 912 Plus Price: £63 Manufacturer: Cooler Master Web: www.coolermaster.com Motherboard support: mATX, ATX Drive bays: 4x 5.25-inch, 6×3.5-inch I/O panel: 2x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA, audio and mic Fans: 1x 200mm front, 1x 120mm rear Dimensions: 230 x 480 x 496mm
PC Gaming mouse
Making the difference between fragging and being fragged…
For some PC folk, dropping a chunk of cash on something that isn’t going to affect the performance of your PC might seem like a waste of time and money and not a real upgrade at all. But as the primary input device for most of us, a good mouse can a huge difference to your overall experience.
Personally speaking, I used to be more interested in my machine’s innards and stuck with the same mouse and keyboard combination for years without really considering upgrading them. I used the same grubby Microsoft Intellimouse for maybe a decade, without ever feeling the need to make a change. It wasn’t until I was testing the Logitech G9 that my world shifted and I realised what a difference a quality, weighty mouse could make to my gaming world.
For the laptop crowd, a new mouse can really help too. Most trackpads, let’s be honest, are far from responsive, so a mouse can really change things up. Decent little wireless mice – like the excellent Roccat Pyra optical mouse – can be found for around £30.
For serious gaming though, a laser mouse is where it’s at. An accurate, sensitive laser sensor on a gaming rodent isn’t just about sending the mouse pointer flying across the screen at the slightest twitch – a better sensor will make all mouse movements smoother and easier to judge. It’s not just about looking for the highest DPI setting a mouse is capable of either, as some of those can be incredibly twitchy and not at all that smooth.
Recently, we have seen a range of 8,200 DPI mice arrive – possibly using the same Avago LaserStream sensor – with exceptional tracking performance. Given that the likes of Razer are throwing out mice for £110, you might reasonably expect something with such a high DPI capability to be hitting the same sort of sky-high price tag – but the best mice are easily within our budget.
Corsair has really started to make a name for itself in the peripheral market over the last year or so, and the update to the M60 mouse – smartly named the M65 – comes with the Avago sensor and that incredible tracking capability. So how come the Corsair isn’t our recommendation then?
Well, newcomer to the UK market Shogun Bros is also looking like it’s using the same sensor in its Ballista MK-1 gaming mouse – and while it will retail for around the same price as the Corsair, it has just a little more functionality and style about it.
Primary among the extra functions is the addition of a pair of programmable buttons positioned along the side of the right mouse button. They’re easy to get at and provide more control for your mouse hand.
To be perfectly honest, either the Corsair or the Ballista mice will give you a fantastic experience, so if you can’t find the one, the other will still impress. Though it’s worth noting that the Corsair one is available in stormtrooper white. Yes, we know.
Still the primary input device of choice, so make it a good one
The humble keyboard is probably one of the last things you’d really considering upgrading. After all, that grint-stained, crumb-infested beige board you’ve been using since you bought your first PC is still functioning.
But after the mouse, it’s the secondary input device for your rig, and in-game is on an equal footing with the rodent for priority. The mouse/keyboard combination has come to be a talisman for PC gaming community, but if you just spend the cash on a good gaming mouse and neglect its keyboard companion, you’re doing all of PC gaming a disservice. Okay, that might be a tad emotive, but a good quality keyboard can really enhance your gaming experience, as well as improve any work you happen to do on the side too.
As we’ve seen over the last few months you can now spend an absolute fortune on a gaming keyboard should you so wish. The Razer DeathStalker Ultimate, despite its overly hyperbolic name, is a decent keyboard with a few light teething problems – but it comes with a ridiculous £250 price tag.
There’s also the Mad Catz STRIKE range, with the 5 and 7 in the series hitting £150 and £250 respectively. But neither of those boards come with the one thing I look for when I’m spending cold, hard cash on a gaming keyboard, and that’s mechanical switch keys. If you’re upgrading your board then you want to make sure it’s got the finest keyboard tech.
Membrane switch keys are the standard tech used in most keyboards for the simple reason that they are cheaper to produce and can be used to make the fashionable chiclet key style of low-profile boards. Unfortunately, they’re not particularly durable or responsive, something that you’d really want your keyboard to be, especially if you’re spending a ton on one.
Mechanical switch boards come with that familiar clickety-clack sound when you strike them, making you feel like you’re typing along with Stephen J Cannell at the start of The A-Team. They’re also incredibly durable, lasting long after the membrane switches have perished, and are far more responsive. That’s also what makes them such good candidates for gaming keyboards – we love them.
Of all the keyboards I’ve tested recently, somewhat bizarrely, it’s Gigabyte’s Aivia Osmium keyboard that I’ve fallen in love with. In fact, this entire article has been lovingly typed on my chunky Osmium board. It may be rather plain-looking – despite the bright LED backlighting – but its one of the most responsive, sturdy and functional boards I’ve ever used.
It’s got simple macro functionality for the casual MMO enthusiast, media controls, independent wheel controls for the lighting and system volume and it’s also the only board that manages to jam in a USB 3.0 pass-through for good measure.
I genuinely wasn’t expecting to fall so convincingly for the Osmium, but its simple aesthetic and rock-solid build quality – coupled with its overall responsiveness – makes it my favourite gaming keyboard out there. It may not have a fl ashy LED display, but I would wager it’ll outlast many a pricier board.
Gigabyte Aivia Osmium Price: £100 Manufacturer: Gigabyte Web: http://uk.gigabyte.com Layout: Europe 105-key Keyboard tech: Mechanical switch Interface: Wired USB 2.0 Macro keys: Five Extras: USB 3.0 pass-through
targeting U.S. government employees working with nuclear weapons illustrates the vulnerability of large organizations that struggle with deploying protective software upgrades.
Cyberattack choosing to go after federal agencies, the attackers understood that many government departments are still using outdated versions of Windows and IE, due to the huge expense of upgrading thousands of people to newer versions. Such migrations involve the difficult task of upgrading many other business applications to support the new OS.
“There’s a lot of government agencies, and commercial entities as well, that simply cannot upgrade to these latest versions,” Eddie Mitchell, security researcher for Invincea, said Monday. “They have internal applications, HR (human resource) applications, payroll applications and such that were designed explicitly to work with Internet Explorer 8, which is why these organizations are still vulnerable to Cyberattack.”
Researchers agree that the command-and-control (CC) servers in the latest Cyberattack, discovered last week, have attributes similar to those used in previous Cyberattack assaults originating from China.
FireEye reported that the host name of the CC servers in the latest Cyberattack included the phrase “microsoftUpdate,” which was also used in Cyberattack over the last six months against the Council on Foreign Relations website and news sites in China visited by Chinese dissidents.
The pages compromised on the Labor Department Cyberattack contained information that listed nuclear-related illnesses linked to Department of Energy facilities where employees are developing atomic weapons. Visitors were redirected to the malicious website unknowingly, since there was no obvious change in the browser.
“It would not surprise me in the least, based on what we’ve seen in the past, to see this exploit loaded [in kits] in the next day or two, a week at the most,” he said.
Indeed, FireEye reported finding nine other websites besides the Labor Department’s redirecting visitors to the same malicious site. Microsoft issued an alert last Friday notifying customers of the Cyberattack vulnerability. The company has not said when it would release a patch.
“We strongly encourage customers to follow the workarounds listed in the advisory while we continue working on a full update to address this issue,” said Dustin Childs, group manager for response communications for Microsoft Trustworthy Computing.
When Microsoft Windows 8 boss Steve Ballmer first revealed his software for the touchscreen world in February 2012, he said he was “betting the company” on it.
There were “no compromises” made in replacing the time-honoured desktop with Windows 8′s colourful tile-based interface, Ballmer insisted.
But just six months after the official release, Microsoft – which relies on Windows licences for about half its profits – is getting ready to make compromises to key aspects of the software. It comes after its leap into the tablet computing future was described as “confusing” (or worse) by new users and has been blamed for plummeting sales of PCs, which had their sharpest drop on record in the first three months of this year, down 14%.
The biggest expectation is that the update to Windows 8, codenamed Blue and due within a few weeks, will revive the start button that had been familiar to users for 17 years but which was removed from the new version.
If correct, it will be a U-turn as momentous in its way as Coca-Cola’s abandonment of “New Coke” in 1985 just three months after its launch following consumer protests.
Tami Reller, promoted to head Microsoft’s Windows division after Ballmer ejected former chief Steve Sinofsky in November, announced on an internal Microsoft blog on Monday that Blue will be “an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to” since the October launch.
“Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely,” Reller told the Associated Press. “There is a learning curve [to Windows 8] and we can work to address that.”
The principal challenge for experienced users of Windows is the total absence of a Start button, familiar since 1995 as the place with all their programs and shortcuts stored in a huge list. Windows 8 instead introduces a layer of giant “tiles” over the traditional desktop.
But users find that perplexing – so much so that one of the bestselling apps on Windows 8 has been Stardock, which lets the user add the start button back in, and ModernMix, which lets tile apps run on the old desktop. That will have given Reller pause – along with the fact that sales of Windows PCs have shrunk for the past four quarters, declining sharply year-on-year by 11.4% between January-March to about 74m.
The blame for that was put squarely at Sinofsky’s door by Bob O’Donnell of the research company IDC: “At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” he said.
“The costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.”
However Reller gave no other hints about what’s coming, or when. That’s a problem in itself, said Richard Doherty of Envisioneering, a market research company: “they had the Vista misstep in 2007 [when an earlier Windows update alienated users] and this is more of that. They’re telling people ‘take it or leave it’, and consumers have been leaving it.”
Even so analysts don’t think the Start button will return in exactly that form.
At Gartner, a rival research company, vice-president Michael Silver says Microsoft “didn’t listen to customers who were pointing [the start button problem] out in testing. They could have had a middle ground, but chose not to – I think Sinofsky made sure it was pretty difficult to make major changes if he didn’t want them.”
Sinofsky and Ballmer are understood to have argued over such flexibility – which saw the junior leave quickly. Even so Silver thinks the changes will only offer the chance to start the machine purely in the desktop mode, bypassing the tiles; he doesn’t expect the Start button back.
Meawhile the traditional PC business is merging rapidly with that of tablets and smartphones – in which Microsoft is barely visible. IDC said that while PC sales were plunging, tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013 hit 49.2m, overtaking desktop-based PCs. Smartphones passed that mark long ago, having outsold PCs since the end of 2010, and in developing countries they are becoming many peoples’ first computing device. But Microsoft’s Windows Phone has less than 5% share worldwide, compared with 70% for Google’s Android and 20% for Apple’s iPhone. Microsoft only has about 1% of the tablet market, according to IDC.
This week Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates defended Windows 8: “It takes the benefits of a tablet and the benefits of a PC, and it’s able to support both of those – so if you have [Microsoft own-brand tablet] Surface, Surface Pro, you’ve got that portability of a tablet but the richness of a PC in terms of the keyboard, Microsoft Office of a PC,” he said. “Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device.”
Paradoxically Microsoft’s stock is presently trading at a six-year high, after the hedge fund ValueAct Capital took a $2bn stake at the end of April, with its chief executive Jeffrey Ubben remarking “We see Microsoft’s consumer strategy challenges, and say ‘who cares’.”
Reller was also able to announce that Microsoft has now sold 100m Windows 8 licences in the six months since it was launched, matching the previous figure for Windows 7 at the same time in 2010. Though she didn’t explain it, business customers are buying Windows 8 licences but actually install the older Windows 7 – with its familiar start button.
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As part of the Open Compute Project (OCP), Facebook network engineering team is leading a project to develop an open source networking switch.
“It’s our hope that an open, disaggregated switch will enable a faster pace of innovation in the development of networking hardware,” wrote Frank Frankovsky from Facebook in a blog post announcing the project. Frankovsky is chairman and president of OCP, as well as Facebook vice president of hardware design and supply chain operations.
network engineering team head Najam Ahmad will lead the project, and engineers from Broadcom, Intel, VMware and Cumulus Networks, among others, will participate in the development of the specification.
Facebook announced the project Wednesday at the Interop 2013 conference in Las Vegas. It will formally kick off the project at the first-ever OCP Engineering Summit May 16 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The design will specify how to build a top-of-rack switch that could be used in large data centers, such as Facebook . Frankovsky admitted that the project is starting with “just an idea and a clean sheet of paper.” He did specify the switch will use SDN (software defined networking) technologies, and would be OS agnostic. OCP wants to create specifications that cleanly separate different components — which Frankovsky calls disaggregation — so these components can be easily interchangeable and work together seamlessly.
Facebook created OCP two years ago as a way to spur development of more efficient data center technologies. The idea was that users and creators of data center technologies could collaborate to develop hardware designs more to their own liking, which then would be open sourced so any manufacturer could use them to build equipment. OCP, which has attracted over 50 corporate members, has since embarked on designing components such as racks, storage boxes, motherboards and interconnects.
Although no networking switch vendors have yet volunteered to build a switch using OCP’s specifications, presumably they will have at least a few ready customers in Facebook and other participants in the project.
Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab’s e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com
Amazon.com has updated its mobile app store to include support for its Chinese customers, in a sign that the U.S. company could be preparing to sell its Kindle e-readers and tablets in the country.
The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon’s app store built in the Chinese language. The app store comes in the form of an Android app store, and the company has been promoting it since this past weekend.
The arrival of the new app store comes just months after Amazon launched its Kindle e-book service in China last December. Both are key platforms for bringing content to the company’s Kindle devices in the U.S. market. But in China, Amazon has yet to start selling its tablet and e-reader hardware, and its local offices have been mum on a future release date. The company on Monday did not immediately respond for comment.
Despite the absence of official sales, the Chinese market is showing some “pent-up demand” for Amazon’s e-readers, said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. Research data from last year showed that Chinese consumers were increasingly buying the e-readers from overseas markets, he added.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets could also sell well in the country, Natkin said. Apple currently dominates the nation’s tablet sector, but the company largely focuses on the higher-end market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire products, which start at US$159, could appeal to many consumers wanting a lower-priced device from a well-known brand, he added.
Lenovo became the country’s second largest tablet vendor after Apple, with a 14 percent market share, by its focus on budget tablets, according to analysts.
Though a big name in the U.S., Amazon is, however, a small player in China’s e-commerce market. It faces fierce competition from the local rivals, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao sites and 360buy, another major online shopping mall. Both Taobao and 360buy also sell e-books.
China’s market is also already saturated with local app store, some of which are operated by handset makers and telecom operators. Amazon’s new Chinese app store has been designed to include more local products. Software from Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou are listed, but U.S. apps including Netflix and Twitter are not.
Microsoft marketing chief Tami Reller says Windows 8 has sold 100 million licenses, and an upgrade (code-named Windows 8 Blue) is under development.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) confirmed an upcoming Windows 8 update, code named Windows Blue, that will enable the touch-enabled operating system to run on more devices (including smaller tablets) and, according to the vendor, addresses some of the criticism levied at the software.
Microsoft also said that its count of Windows 8licenses sold has reached 100 million, a 67 percent jump from where the figure stood in January, and spans licenses shipped with new tablets or PCs and upgrades.
With Windows Blue chatter building for months, Microsoft first mentioned in late March 2013 plans for an update. What’s expected in the Windows 8 update?
Right off the top, Windows Blue will run on more—as in smaller–devices.
“Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs,” said Tami Reller, Microsoft chief marketing and chief financial officer, in a blog post. “It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem.”
Translated, that means expect Windows Blue to be more suited to small screen format tablets, the building and not-yet-cresting-wave in mobile devices. The update also will include Microsoft’s response to critics of Windows 8, who’ve contended it is absent native applications and clunky on backward compatibility with earlier versions of the operating system.
“The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT,” said Reller. “From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft.”
Along those lines, as for devices running Windows 8 and Windows RT, Reller said that it stands at some 2,400 devices, “and we’re seeing more and more touch devices in the mix.” That alone clues us in about where Microsoft is headed.
Reller also talked up PCs, addressing the much-discussed and well-documented decline in desktop and notebook sales, contending that the “PC is very much alive and increasingly mobile,” and, in Microsoft’s thinking, is “part of a much broader device market of tablets and PCs.”
So, in other words, PCs now should be considered as but one grove of trees on the IT hardware landscape, whereas once it spanned the entire horizon? Actually, yes. “The PC part of the market is rapidly evolving to include new convertible devices and amazing new touch laptops, and all-in-ones. These new PCs are hitting the market now and into the Back-to-School season, and they are more affordable than ever,” Reller said.
Here are some additional Reller nuggets:
The number of apps in Microsoft’s Windows Store has increased 6x since launch.
More than 250 million Store apps have been downloaded in the first six months of Windows 8, and almost 90 percent of Microsoft’s app catalog has been downloaded every month.
Delivered major updates for Mail, People and Calendar and updated IE10 so that Flash works by default.
SkyDrive users worldwide total some 250 million people.
The Outlook.com integration with Skype, active in the U.K. now, will launch in the U.S. and Germany in a few weeks and worldwide in a few months.
The Outlook.com update Hotmail users is done. The newly-Web enabled software now has some 400 million accounts.
Be sad, fellow geeks, for we are witnessing the slow death of a staunch companion the pixel .
Between the proliferation of Retina displays, ultrahigh-resolution smartphone screens, überexpensive 4K televisions, and the ironically named Chromebook Pixel, eye candy has never been so abundantly available, nor so abundantly delicious. Screens are saturated with millions–millions–of tiny little squares, rendering images and text alike in buttery-smooth fidelity.
The jagged edges of yesteryear are bleeding away. On-screen images are looking more and more like continuous-tone photographs. The pixel as we know it is all but dead.
Children of the future will look back at games like E.T. and Doom, and rather than waxing nostalgic, they’ll shake their heads at how utterly bad we used to have it. (Dot-matrix printers? Please.) Resolution specs will eventually fade into the annals of history, as all screens will look equally splendid. And you’ll never, ever find a dead pixel on a new display–because even if it’s there, you won’t be able to notice it.
It’s enough to make your eyes water, but it won’t happen today. For although the pixel’s final gasp is indeed on the horizon, it isn’t quite here yet. And you can thank the PC for that.
It was the best of times…
Pixel-packed consumer electronics displays may be only a couple of years old, but they’re already far from rare. Retina-sporting iPads sell by the gajillions. Every premium smartphone released in the past year and a half has boasted at least a 720p display, while newer entries such as the HTC One rock full-blown 1080p resolutions.
More important than the total resolution numbers is the fact that those small mobile screens are veritably crammed with pixels. Sky-high pixel densities are giving displays a pixel-less quality.
Stuffed into a 4.7-inch screen, the One’s 1080p resolution is good for an eye-popping 468 pixels per inch. Sitting slightly farther away from your peepers, Retina iPads rock 264 ppi. Even the $200 Nexus 7 boasts a display with 216 ppi.
Meanwhile, Sharp–a major component supplier for Apple and other parties–is working on new IGZO display technology designed to pack the pixels in even more tightly. Last year, the company showed off a 6-inch IGZO LCD panel with a whopping 2560 by 1600 resolution, for an impressive pixel density of 498 ppi. Few 30-inch desktop monitors have that many pixels.
On such stacked screens, text is as sharp as it is in a book, if not sharper. Yes, they’re that good.
It was the worst of times…
Compare those ever-increasing mobile resolutions with the status quo on the PC side of things. While the stunning screens on the Chromebook Pixel and higher-end MacBook Pros may snatch all the headlines, everyday reality is much more ho-hum for most folks.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist, part of the first wave of Windows 8 hybrids, sports one of those laptop-standard 1366 by 768 displays. Across its 12.5-inch screen, that resolution equates to just 125 ppi. And for laptops with a similar resolution on a larger 13.3- or 15.6-inch display–far more common notebook sizes–the pixel-density number plummets even lower.
Even when you take into consideration that laptop screens need fewer pixels than phones to achieve Retina-level quality (since you hold them farther away from you than mobile devices), the ThinkPad Twist’s pixel density fails to impress. Its 125 ppi is barely half the pixel density of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display’s 227 ppi–and as I said, the Twist’s screen is smaller (read: denser) than most laptop screens. Another model, the IdeaPad Yoga 13, packs a higher 1600 by 900 resolution into its larger 13-inch display, and still offers only 138 ppi.
That doesn’t cut it, folks.
Who should shoulder the blame for the PC’s eye-straining status quo? Manufacturers who pump out computers at the lowest cost possible, or people who treat PCs as commodity appliances? It matters not. Regardless of the industry’s general recalcitrance toward Retina-level displays, the death of the pixel marches ever closer, even on Windows computers.
Peering into the future
High-resolution displays aren’t the norm even on premium Windows laptops quite yet, but they are becoming more popular as economies of scale drive the cost of displays down–and as the economy in general forces manufacturers to tinker with bold new designs to spark lagging consumer interest.
Behold: the recently announced Toshiba Kirabook, the first Windows laptop to bear an ultrahigh-resolution display with 221 ppi. Starting at $1600, it also sports a matching ultrahigh price tag, unfortunately.
But higher resolutions are starting to work their way into slightly less expensive Windows devices, too. Many early Windows hybrids and touchscreen laptops rock a full 1080p HD resolution, including the $1100 Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft’s own $899 Surface Pro slate. On the Dell’s 12.5-inch display, that’s good for a far-better-than average 176 ppi, while the Surface Pro’s 10.6-inch screen boasts a peeper-pleasing 208 ppi.
That’s not quite pixel-less, but it’s close.
“In comparing Surface Pro to my third-generation iPad, I really had to search for visible pixels and differences in display quality, and any deficits exhibited by Surface Pro melted away when the tablet was farther away from my face, and propped on a desk,” PCWorld editor Jon Phillips wrote in his Surface Pro review.
And the same day that Sharp showed off its 498-ppi mobile panel, the company also presented a 13.5-inch IGZO OLED panel designed for laptops. Its resolution: a stunning 3840 by 2160, with a 326-ppi density–a full 99 ppi higher than even the vaunted MacBook Pro’s Retina display.
In a way, the PC’s delayed adoption of dynamite displays is a good thing. Everyday technology simply isn’t ready for the en masse embrace of pixel-packed screens.
Most computer programs and the Web as we know it were designed with pedestrian displays in mind, not ultrahigh-res stunners. As such, Retina iPad users have complained of blurred text and imagery, while the Surface Pro ships with the desktop display automatically scaled to 150 percent to keep text from appearing itty-bitty on its pixelicious screen. Images created for Retina-level displays are far larger, file-size-wise, than standard-resolution graphics, placing a burden on bandwidth and storage alike.