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Tag: pc

Fluff, The Silent Killer

Posted by Andrew at 2:29 AM on July 27, 2012

Processor and HeatsinkFluff can be a PC killer as I recently discovered, but the solution to the problem is straightforward.

As a true geek, I built my own PC, but it’s no speed demon with a mid-range quad-core processor. However, I’d been suffering from intermittent PC shutdowns that would always happen when I was at the PC and never when the PCs was on but not in use. It was very irritating because you’d be right in the middle of something and then you’d be dumped out. I put it down to buggy software.

Last week I started to rip a few DVDs for tablet viewing and every time the PC would shutdown within about 30 seconds of starting the file conversion. At this point I began to think that the processor might be overheating, forcing a shutdown before it was damaged. Upon opening the case, nothing looked particularly out of the ordinary; there was a bit of fluff but nothing you’d think of as being a problem. It was only when I looked more closely at the heat sink on the CPU that I saw many of the spaces between the thermal vanes were clogged with fluff.

Out with the vacuum cleaner and a good hoovering later, I powered the PC on and started a fresh rip. This time the PC didn’t shutdown and I was able to rip solidly for at least an hour without any shutdowns. Problem solved!

Tip of the Day – if you are experiencing intermittent crashes or shutdowns, open your PC and give your CPU’s heatsink and fan a clean with the vacuum cleaner.

And if any Americans out there are wondering what “fluff” is, I believe that you know it as “lint”.

Heatsink and fan picture courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com.

iTwin Creates a Personal Cloud

Posted by Andrew at 10:57 AM on February 19, 2012

iTwin Infinite Capacity Thumb DriveiTwin is billed as an “infinite capacity thumb drive” but this sells the device short – it’s much more than this. Andy finds out what its capable of from Akash at CES Showstoppers.

The basic premise of iTwin is a pair of USB devices, one of which goes in your work desktop, the other in your home (or laptop) computer. Files can then be copied securely to and from the work computer across the internet to the laptop.

The devices are cryptographically paired together to ensure the security of the connection and the creators seem to have solutions for most of the issues that might arise, such as dynamic IPs or theft.

The brilliance of iTwin is that it offers a personal cloud solution where the data is completely under your control but not actually in your possession. No risk of theft, loss or nosey border guards rifling through your files.

Works with both Windows PCs and Mac – available now for $99.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Nyxio VioSphere Splits your TV and PC

Posted by Alan at 8:33 AM on February 15, 2012

Nyxio is a new company that is looking to integrate your computer and your TV.  They have a product, the VioSphere, which literally splits your monitor screen into half PC and half television.  The VioSphere is a touch-screen monitor that has a built-in web-cam and microphone to allow you to video-conference while you are watching that big game on the other half of your screen.  It’s like the old picture-in-picture TV features, which allows you to watch both or go full-screen with one or the other.

It functions like an all-in-one PC with a DVD burner also built-in. While it runs on the Windows platform they also are partnered with Bluestacks to include Android apps as well.  It also comes with a wireless keyboard and built-in WiFi.  As for the TV end of things, it just takes a normal coax input.  The VioSphere comes in a wide range of sizes spanning 21″ (although their website states the low end at 32″) all the way up to 65″.  A price point isn’t given in the video, but you can learn a lot more info on the product.  You can also visit Nyxio online for additional information.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Leonar3Do Virtual Reality Kit

Posted by Andrew at 10:28 PM on February 14, 2012

Leonar3Do 3D Controller

This looks more like an instrument of torture than any kind of bird I’ve seen but fortunately it’s not and it’s actually the virtual reality controller from Leonar3Do‘s desktop VR kit. Andy and Courtney breathe a sigh of relief and chat to Stewart Oldroyd from Leonar3Do.

Hungarian start-up have created “the world’s first desktop VR kit”, consisting of the scary controller above, 3D glasses and three line sensors that affix to the computer monitor to track the position of the controller and the glasses. There’s a video on the company’s website that shows the system in action and it looks amazing.

The innovative part is that it’s an out-of-the-box environment which costs around $1500 rather the $10,000+ usually associated with VR systems. Currently only available for enterprise and education markets, the consumer version will arrive in late spring.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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AikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System

Posted by Andrew at 8:36 AM on January 31, 2012

AikenLabs Immersive Motion Desktop Starter KitAikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System is a body-worn motion controller that takes real world actions and puts them into video games. Andy checks out some moves with Ethan from AikenLabs.

The Immersive Motion Accessory System comprises small black boxes worn on bands that connect wirelessly to a master controller which in turn, is connected to PC or game console via USB. Each box has an accelerometer, a magnometer and  gyroscope to accurately track motion. No optical sensor or camera is needed.

Once the boxes are in place on the player’s head, arms, legs or plastic sword, actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking in the real-world get translated into similar actions in the game. Cleverly, the system converts the gestures into standard game controllers actions such as button presses or joystick moves. Consequently the system can be used with nearly any game console straightaway; there’s no need to wait for developer support.

Interview by Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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Sony Connects Up At CES

Posted by Andrew at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2012

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

Vizio Introduces a Line of PCs

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:20 PM on January 9, 2012

Vizio Computer One of the reasons I am a fan of Apple products is because of their ability to design products that are both beautiful and functional. I will never deny that a Microsoft Windows base computer can do everything an Apple computer can do and in some areas maybe more. However there are very few Window’s based computers I have seen where I went wow that is beautiful, until now. Not surprising, the computer that made me go wow, was not designed by a computer company but by a TV manufacture Vizio.

Vizio is based in Irvine, California and is a leading manufacture of flat panel HDTVs. It became the #1 selling brand in 2007 and has remained near the top since then. They also have a whole ecosystem of apps that can be found on TVs, Blu-ray Players, tablets and more. With these two fields as a background they realized that more and more consumers were using their computers not only to do work but also as a part of their day-to-day entertainment ecosystems. They also realized that there was also something missing, a Window based PC that are not only functional but looked beautiful. Computers that would look good not only in the boardroom but also in the living room or bedrooms. The new Vizio PC that is being introduced in 2012 is an attempt to fill this void. It has a thin base which holds the Windows 7 based PC . Coming out of that base is a single anodized aluminium hinge that is secured to the monitor. There are no visible wires to interrupt the flow. The monitor is full HD based on what Vizio has learned over the years building quality HDtvs. It has 2.1 audio quality. This is a computer that is designed with not only productivity in mind but also aesthetics.

Along with the all in one PC, Vizio is also introducing two thin and light notebooks and one reqular notebook. I have to admit it has been a long time since a PC has turned my head like this one has. At this time I am unable to find a listed price for the Vizio Computers. However I can’t wait till they come on to the market in spring 2012, so I can get a hold of one and see if it works as good as it looks.  The new Vizio computers will be on display at CES 2012.

Price of Chromebook Drops. Will You Buy it Now?

Posted by J Powers at 1:00 PM on November 21, 2011
Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Chromebook Display at Google Places Event

Google announced they are dropping the price of the Chromebook by 30%. Some Chromebooks will be as low as $299. But questions still arise if a Chromebook is in your holiday wish list, when you can get a Kindle Fire, nook Color for less. Even the iPad could be in more stockings than the ultra-portable laptop.

Chromebook came out back in June as Google’s answer to a PC that didn’t have a complicated OS to it. You would load the Chromebook up to a Chrome browser; inside, all your applications would be in the cloud and the data you create would also mostly reside in a cloud drive. However, if you were in a 3G deadspot or didn’t have Wifi, then your work would be rather limited.

Competing with a Tablet

Chromebook’s price drop is pretty much an attempt to counter the prices of the Kindle Fire and nook color tablets, which debuted to the general public last week at $199 and $249 respectively. The tablet – which you could connect a bluetooth keyboard and mouse – could technically become a more functional notebook than a Chromebook itself. And with prices at $100 lower than the device,  will a Samsung or Acer Chromebook even be in your holiday purchase radar?

What is Chromebook’s Market?

Google Chair at SF Airport

Google Chair at SF Airport

Chromebook has to figure out where their niche is going to be. Maybe as a laptop for the kids, or a machine you can keep in the kitchen to call up recipes or as a kiosk in a public place? Back in September, I saw the Chromebook lounge in the San Francisco Airport. Those kiosks would be great for people that have hours to wait but don’t have a computer to check their Facebook profiles or email on.

Remember when the Netbook was a popular item two years ago? What happened to that? The answer is the netbook disappeared fast. You can still get a netbook, but just like the Chromebook, why should you spend $300 or more for a device that is the same speed and power as a Kindle Fire or nook Color?

So now we can start to see the impact of these two new tablets are bringing to the holiday shopping season. Chromebook has to compete with something more compact and useable. Google has not released any data regarding Chromebooks sold, but a DigiTimes report (premium content site) says it all:

“In June 2011, Acer and Samsung launched their Chromebooks ahead of other PC brand vendors, but by the end of July, Acer had reportedly only sold 5,000 units and Samsung was said to have had even lower sales than Acer, according to sources from the PC industry.”

What does that mean to Chromebook? Simply: It’s time to drop prices and hope the Chromebook will sell well in Q4.

HP Changes Its Mind

Posted by Andrew at 1:32 PM on October 27, 2011

HP LogoAfter an “evaluation of strategic alternatives”, HP has decided not to either sell or spin off the Personal Systems Group (PSG). Given the plummet of the share price on the original review announcement and the subsequent departure of the then-CEO Leo Apotheker, this is not entirely unsurprising news.

The new CEO and HP President, Meg Whitman, said, “HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.

Apparently the in-depth strategic review revealed that the PSG was tightly integrated throughout HP’s operations and brought significant value to HP’s brand and portfolio. The cost of extracting PSG from HP negated any possible benefits from the split of the organisation. There’s a surprise.

No news on whether WebOS will get a reprieve but more may be revealed at a this afternoon’s press call (5pm Eastern)

Update: based on the press call, it’s “wait and see” for a few months with regard to WebOS. There’s more over at PreCentral.

Five Backup Solutions to the Cloud for Your Computer

Posted by MikeBaine at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2011

In this computer day and age, you want to make sure pictures, documents and more are backed up on a daily basis. Especially with hard drives that fail every day and notebooks that get stolen every day. Even if you get your stolen computer back, the thieves might have done damage like wiping the hard drive or dropping the machine altogether.

I back up my machines to different sources. I have 2 home backups and one cloud backup. The cloud backup can also be a great way to share pictures through an iPhone, Android or iPad application. Nonetheless, if my computer drive dies, if there is fire or water damage, if someone steals my computer, I don’t lose the data.

Advantages to Cloud Based Backup

  • Off-site data retention
  • access to data from multiple computers or mobile devices
  • software that will start backing up files when computer is idle
  • High encryption on backup
  • Cloud based service runs their own backups – Your data gets backed up by them, too!
  • Prices are low – There are some services that are free to a certain level.
So here are Five cloud backup solutions you can employ now:

MyPCBackup

My PC Backup

My PC Backup

MyPCBackup was ranked #1 by Top 10 Online Backups. With unlimited backup, you can make sure all your pictures, documents and more are safe. They have an option to sync multiple computers through a folder on the machine.  They also offer a money back option and full customer support.

Mac users won’t be able to use this program, which is a major downfall to this program. The “1 PC, 1 Mac” per household ratio is growing. There is also no mobile application so you can view your backup files.

Carbonite Online Backup

Carbonite Online Backup

Carbonite Online Backup

One of the more popular online backup systems is Carbonite, this unlimited backup lets you view your files from any computer, or through an iPhone, Blackberry or Android application.  Carbonite also has accidental deletion option, which means if you delete a file that was backed up, you have 30 days to restore it.

Carbonite also works on PC and Mac systems. Therefore, you could backup all your items from the old computer, switch the program to Mac and download the files. There is full customer support if needed.

Mozy Online Backup

Mozy Online Backup

Mozy Online Backup

Mozy online backup is also a PC or Mac backup. You can access your data from an iPhone and Android (no Blackberry) application. They also offer on-site backup, which means you can set up a USB hard drive and Mozy will backup to that as well. Full support and they also offer the ability to restore a file up to 30 days after deleted.

Mozy does not offer unlimited backup, though. $5.99 /month  for 50 GB and $9.99 for 125 GB. For a standard computer, you might not fill that spot – unless you take tons of pictures or create video like myself.

DropBox

Dropbox

Dropbox

You might not think of Dropbox as a online backup. However, with their open API, there are a lot of things that Dropbox can become. You can use it to sync with other computers, so it’s a great collaborative tool.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t tout itself as an online backup. You do get some great options, like short-term backup recovery.

They do have a free service for the first 2 GB, then pricing options after.

iBackup

iBackup

iBackup

iBackup is a backup for not only PCs and Macs, but also Servers. You can also back up your MySQL, Linux box Exchange, Oracle and iPhone. Therefore, it’s a full corporate backup solution. It gets pricey fast, but if you need 1.5 Terabytes of data that has to be backed up, this is a great solution.

They also have a “30 version” backup – If you change a document 29 times, then realize you need to start from the beginning, you can go into your account and pull up the first version. That can help if someone messes up a document and you don’t realize it right away.

There are  other online backup options, too. This includes items like PogoPlug or Drobo, where the files are stored at your home site. Elephantdrive, Livedrive, KeepIT are some other online backup tools.

Since it’s your data, you should research each program and see if it’s right for you. But if you have important data and need to back it up, then these options might help you with that solution.

There are also some great software solutions if you want to backup your computer to another computer. If you are on a Mac, then Time Machine is a feature you can set. Everything from backing up folders to making a full image of your computer to restore at a moments notice.

Most important – Back it up now, because you never know if you’ll get a chance to back it up later.