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Anthony Garreffa's Blog - Page 2

Sony impressed at Mobile World Congress, while Samsung floated along

Mobile World Congress is over for another year, but just who came out on top at the biggest event for mobile devices in the world? Most would say Samsung, but I don't agree. This blog is the perfect outlet for me to vent my disappointment in Samsung, when it really should've gone for the hearts of all of its competitors.

 

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In a time where a manufacturer can go from top dog to second, third or last place, Samsung didn't impress me with its unveiling of the Galaxy S5. There was nothing that stood out feature wise, apart from a few possibly useful features like Driving Mode and Kids Mode. The latter will be a big selling point when telcos get their hands-on the Galaxy S5, especially parents.

 

But from a technology point of view, the Galaxy S5 intros nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, and nothing revolutionary. Apple has bored me for years with its iPhones, slowly but surely evolving its safe platform. I wanted Samsung to capitalize on Apple's lack of innovation, but was disappointed. My savior? Sony.


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My Google Glass arrives next week, and I'm incredibly excited

The last time I was this excited for an electronic device, would have to be the original iPhone. At the time, mobile phones were just these devices you used to message and call people - there were no apps, decent rear-facing cameras, wireless charging, GPS, and a billion other things they all do now.

 

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Between the original iPhone and now, the smartphone market has been evolving extremely well, but nothing truly, game-changing has been released - until, Google Glass. Even then, Glass isn't released, it's like being accepted into some secret club where you get to test out a device that will change the world - and it will - early in its life.

 

I'm a daily user of Google services - I use Gmail, Drive, Chrome each and every day. Maps, navigation and more occasionally, and my daily driver is the Nexus 5 smartphone. Google's services are what defines the company for me, as they are world-class - and best of all, free. Google Glass is a wearable extension of these services, especially for navigation - but mostly, for that front-facing camera in the first-person perspective.

 

The first-person video recording (and picture-taking) function is the biggest thing for me, something I can't wait to use in the real-world. Taking quick shots of my daughter as she's doing her swimming lessons, or jumping on the trampoline outside, or the arrival of our second daughter in just twelve days time. Glass is going to redefine my life, and I can't wait.

 

Be sure to check back next week, as there'll hopefully be a steady stream of Glass-based content from me.

I've just put my first wearable device on, the FitBit Flex

I was walking through one of shopping centers near my house today when I walked past a retailer that sells notebooks, I thought I'd stop in and take a look, which is when I walked past a bunch of FitBit devices.

 

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I've been wanting to get into the wearable game, and with a few samples in the air and on their way to me, I thought I'd dive right in and grab the FitBit Flex myself ahead of time. This is my first wearable device, and I'm quite enjoying it so far. It has only been a few hours, so it's not like I'm able to blog about running 5,000+ steps.

 

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My initial impressions of using it for a few hours: it's light. I thought it would be heavier, but I can't feel it on my wrist as I type this, or when I walk around. I love that it is waterproof, and that it can track my sleep. Not that I need those two features or abilities, but it is great to have. You get two wristbands in the box, so if you have smaller, or bigger wrists, you don't need to fret: FitBit has your back, or wrist.


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NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor + Oculus Rift = standalone VR?

The current Oculus Rift development kit pumps out just 720p to its internal display for driving virtual reality, but the Consumer Edition will arrive with 1080p at a minimum. I'm confident we'll see a 4K-capable "Pro" model unveiled at the same time, or shortly after.

 

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But, the big problem here is that you're still tethered to a PC, or laptop. But, NVIDIA has just announced its new Tegra K1 processor at CES 2014, which is a quad-core CPU with a 192-core GPU - capable of driving 1080p without a problem, and some of the latest and greatest graphics engines like Unreal Engine 4. With John Carmack playing with Oculus Rift's latency and the Android SDK, and the fact that the virtual reality outfit has announced Android compatibility with Rift, and its latest funding round raising $75 million, things could get interesting for Oculus and the world of virtual reality.


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Let's see what these Radeon R9 290X GPUs can do in CrossFire, hey?

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all was quiet, except for the sound of the courier delivering a box of GPUs from SAPPHIRE. I've been talking to AMD and SAPPHIRE about getting some goodies to do some more 7680x1440 and 4K testing, now that I have my 4K display ready to go.

 

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Well, I received a box of GPUs, but the two stand outs would have to be the new, unreleased SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 290X Tri-X GPUs, which are just deliriously awesome. They look amazing, perform well so far - in Battlefield 4 at least - and sounds great when under heavy use, too. I've got two of them to start with, but we'll be doing some 3- and 4-way R9 290X testing in the coming weeks and months.

 

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I should hopefully have a look at 4K performance on Battlefield 4 in the next couple of days on these bad boys, after which I'll do some testing on Star Citizen, too. From there, I'll move into triple 1440p, or 7680x1440, which should be quite interesting on these two new GPUs. Until then, take a look at these sexy macro shots I took.

Happy Holidays! Oh, and remember to always backup your HDD!

It's Christmas Eve here in Australia, it's a sunny and beautiful 30C outside, and I've just finished my last-minute Christmas shopping with my daughter - who tried to tell her Mummy (yes, with a U) what we bought her for Christmas.

 

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Well, last night my QNAP TS-639 PRO began making some weird noises when I was doing my weekly backup of my Battlefield 4 folder to it. For nearly 6 years it has been running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a problem until 2 days before Christmas - just my luck, right? Well, I had to run out and buy a new HDD to backup the goods I had on there, but it seems it's not detecting one of my drives sitting in there in a RAID0 array.

 

Luckily that RAID array has nothing super important on it, but it serves as a good reminder to back up your precious moments over the holiday period. Millions of people across the world will be snapping photos and videos like mad over the holiday period, but not many people have backups of these. They'll keep them on the SD card (or whatever storage method your camera uses) and wait to back them up.


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Oculus to tease a next-gen Rift headset at CES 2014

I'm a big fan of virtual reality, writing multiple articles on why I think that Oculus have in its hands, the true next generation of gaming. Not only that, but the true next generation in technology, too.

 

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It all started from a Kickstarter, where Oculus were asking for $250,000. They blew past that pretty quick, finishing up with over $2.4 million. Since then, the virtual reality outfit has collected close to $100 million in additional Series A and B funding. Now that it has some serious investors on-board, as well as the brainchild behind Doom and Quake, John Carmack, as its Chief Technology Officer, I believe that we're just seeing the tip of the VR iceberg.

 

No one else on the market is bothering with VR right now, and those that are trying, are not anywhere near the stage that Oculus is. Oculus is seemingly at the perfect storm of VR, with super-hot tech, massive anticipation, and some of the biggest figures in the industry giving it the utmost praise, myself included.


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Okay... so, 4K is kinda mind-blowing

Last week, I pulled the trigger on Seiki Digital's 39-inch 4K display, all the way from Australia. It was over $200 off, at just $482, and with $170 or so in shipping to the land Down Under, it was mine, all mine.

 

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I just unwrapped the beautiful thing, and while it might look cheap, that resolution cannot be tamed. 3840x2160 is just hands-down sublime. I'm currently running two Chrome windows, Spotify, a Hangouts chat, a Windows Explorer window, and I still have more pixels free than most Ultrabooks or iPhones on the market to spare.

 

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The image quality isn't too great so far, but I've just downloaded the firmware update for it, which is meant to help with a few things in and around the Seiki Digital display. We're going to have an unboxing and quick first impressions coming up later on today, followed by a proper look at the 39-inch 4K display from Seiki Digital in a few days time.

Intel's NUC, and other devices like it, are the future of desktop PCs

I've had the new Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK for around a week or so now, and I'm utterly head-over-heels in love with it. It has become my new desktop/work machine, and has enough power to compete with my much-faster Core i7-4770K desktop machine.

 

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This is all thanks to the improvements made in hardware over the years, as well the introduction of SSDs. Of course, over the years technology has been scaled down, shrunk down, all with lower power consumption and less heat output. This results in Intel pushing the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC. The kit I have is the D54250WYK, which features a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4250U processor.

 

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G.Skill provided us with some slick RipJaws memory, a 16GB kit of 1600MHz in something this small is impressive. USB 3.0 ports all-round, miniDisplayPort which easily pumps out 2560x1440 to each of my ASUS PB278Q displays and microHDMI, too. The biggest inclusion on the new NUC Kit is the Gigabit Ethernet port, which is something I truly tip my hat at Intel for - thanks, guys!

 

I notice no difference when I'm using it for everyday work, which involves Chrome (and many tabs), YouTube videos, VLC use, and that's about it. It cranks along, and never slows down with everything I've thrown at it. My full review will be released next week, so tune back to TweakTown soon!

What would you like to see tested at 7860x1440? Star Citizen? BF4?

I knew these blogs would be used for greatness, with a quick tease of what I'm about to get knees-deep into: 7860x1440 testing in two of the hottest titles out right now: Battlefield 4 and Star Citizen.

 

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I'm going to begin with Star Citizen, which is going to be one of the biggest PC games when it comes out. It is not hitting consoles, and will be exclusive to PC. Chris Roberts, the brain behind it, along with his team at Roberts Space Industries and Cloud Imperium Games are looking to make a game that will literally leave your PC in a bunch of molten plastic and metal, because it pushes your hardware so far.

 

Right now, if you're backing the game, you can get access to the Hangar Module. What I've done is upgraded to a better hangar, and run around through the hangar to get a sense of the stress across two MSI Radeon HD 7970 Lightning BE GPUs... these GPUs are no low-end parts, but some of the fastest GPUs on the planet. 7860x1440, though, is one of the most stressful resolutions you can run, and this is what you'll be seeing here on TweakTown in around 24 hours.


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