Dec 11 2015

News - Streamcom F12C HTPC chassis reviewed @ TweakTown

Streamcom HTPC chassis look fantastic, have good build quality, and are well thought out – at least that’s been my experience. The F12C looks to be no exception either, although I do find the front to be a bit too boring-slab-of-aluminum for my personal taste.

Dec 11 2015

News - Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 reviewed @ HardwareAsylum & ThinkComputers

Picking the right chassis for a server build can be just as hard as what you select for your HTPC. Not usually because there are too few options, but the opposite. Finding a chassis that will keep everything cool, quiet, have plenty of expansion, and look good without breaking the bank can be difficult. We’ve reviewed a few options in the past, but never had the chance to go in depth with Be Quiet! Kit. I have to say that the Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 certainly looks the part (love the orange accents!), and checks all the right boxes at $90/£80– so if you’re planning an upgrade it’s certainly worth consideration.

Dec 11 2015

News - Zotac Zboxes Skylake

Very few OEMs have embraced the SFF like Zotac with their Zbox line of mini-PCs, so it's great to see them expanding the lineup with Skylake. It looks like they've opted to start with a very capable CPU; the 35W quad core Intel Core i5-6400T. The good stuff doesn't stop there however, with M.2, a 2.5" drive slot and support for up to 16GB of DDR3L packed into the ZBOX-MI551-BE. Meaning you could barebones your way into a very capable HTPC system.

Dec 10 2015

News - D-Link announces DIR-885L/R AC3150 802.11AC Wi-Fi router

Just when you thought the pace of change in the 802.11AC market might be slowing, it looks like it's time for another refresh - this time bringing AC3150 forward. The 2nd Ultra (read big-red-spaceship, which I happen to like BTW) model is a "MU-MIMO capable" device based on Broadcom's 4x4 hardware. Like all the competative models running the same SoC it will require a FW update to get full Wave 2 capability. There are quite a few other features alongside the jump to 2167 Mbps(5GHz) + 1000 Mbps (2.4GHz); all covered in the PR.

Dec 10 2015

Blog - Holiday wishlist

My family always tells me that I'm impossible to shop for, and there's definitely some truth to it. I’m quite particular, not just about what I want, but down to the specific model of a thing. So every year I make a list to make my wife happy, then watch it get ignored. While there’s definitely value in exercise, this go around I thought I’d share – maybe save someone time when shopping for their particular geek.

Dec 09 2015

Review - D-Link 802.11AC AC750 Travel Router and Charger (DIR-510L)

There are a lot of reasons to include a travel router in your kit bag when heading out for an extended excursion. The most obvious, is providing a single interface to captive Wi-Fi portals used in hotels, resorts and many cafés. This can save you some money if a per-device access charge is levied, but even when that is not the case you save setup time connecting the devices (i.e. configuring once to the router’s AP), and makes it possible to use streamers like Roku or Chromecast which do not play nice with captive portals – enabling BYOC[ontent] when on the road. With several options now available in this space, the D-Link DIR-510L stands out for two reasons: its 4000mAh battery, and 802.11AC (AC750) support. At $120/£100 SRP ($83/£72 retail) this travel router is at the higher end of the spectrum, let’s see if the feature set can justify the price tag.

Dec 09 2015

News - Is there a Skylake based Iris Pro NUC coming?

There is a lot of noise and rumor out there on the interwebs, so I don't tend to give them all equal footing, but when the guy who introduced me to Intel's Broadwell NUC at CES last year tweets about it... I sure hope they do have one coming, would love to see how it does with madVR.

Dec 08 2015

News - AMD outlines future GPU tech for AnandTech

There is a ton of great information around AMD's future plans for 10-bit, Rec. 2020, and many other things in the AnandTech write-up, but two items stood out for me: HDR and HDMI 2.0a support in 2016 GPUs. Huzzah!

Dec 08 2015

News - Samsung UN65JS9000 4K "SUHD" TV reviewed @ HD Guru

I'm not sure I'd settle for anything less than OLED in my next TV, but if you have to save some dosh and need one now - that's not really an option. That said, Samsung LCD's do tend to perform well, and have a good set of features, so it shouldn't hurt to much to "settle" for this "HDR Dazzler".

Dec 07 2015

News - Microsoft Display Dock Reviewed @ TDL

Microsoft bills their Continuum enabling display dock as “A PC-like experience”, and I think the “like” in that title requires some serious attention. Reviews of the dock + Windows 10 Mobile device (currently only supported on the 950 & 950XL) have been a bit thin so it was great to see Ian Dixon’s video showing the experience.

Unfortunately, I just can’t help but shrug when it comes to the experience. Sure it’s cool, in a gee-whiz kind of way, but since you need to lug around the dock + keyboard + mouse and count on a monitor + power supply (noting that despite the USB Type-C-ness of the dock and phones, it can’t be powered from the phone) being wherever you want to use it, real portability is muddled vs. a laptop type device that can run multiple apps, at the same time, not in full screen, without must-be-universal-app restrictions. Now, in fairness, it is possible to omit the keyboard and mouse in your kit bag, and drive the experience completely off the device, but frankly that just misses the point (perhaps much like Continuum itself Wink).

Now, I’m happy to be wrong here. Maybe it is the killer feature that will pull Windows 10 Mobile out of the coffin Microsoft has slowly built for it, leading to mainstream adoption and eventual success.

Dec 07 2015

News - Strontium Mobile Wi-Fi Cloud?

I don't get it. Not why a portable Wi-Fi enable storage device would be useful, but why for $70 you have to BYOS[torage] to a device that stands up its own AP (unclear if it can be a client on an existing network) which would potentially take your mobile off a useful network. For that much $ you could get a battery powered travel router (like the D-Link DIR-510L; review coming later this week BTW) that can also expose attached storage to the network, as well as doing other useful things. Unless you have one of those magicly bottomless kit bags, and a wallet to match, I just don't get it.

Can someone explain it to me?

Dec 07 2015

News - Phoronix benchmarks Raspbery Pi Zero

With one, 1GHz core and 512MB RAM it wouldn't be fair to expect much performance from this $5 computer. But it's still legitimate to ask "how fast can it go", thankfully phoronix has that answered.

Dec 07 2015

News - Shuttle SH170R6 XPC reviewed @ Mad Shrimps

Shuttle has been a well respected OEM in the SFF barebone space for quite a while. Their systems generally have exactly the right look for a certain type of HTPC (read nice looking cubes Smile). If a Skylake based SFF is in your future, and you don't mind a proprietary motherboard (which could limit future upgrades), have a look at this system - it has an Intel NIC and the chassis looks quite nice.

Dec 05 2015

News - BenQ HT3050 & HT4050 projectors reviewed at Reference Home Theater

BenQ does an excellent job of proving you don't have to break the bank to have a proper "theater room" with a big screen projector. We've had one of their higher-end models in for review a while back, but if your budget is a bit smaller (around $1000) it looks like the HT3050 would be the one. Of course, there's a lot more verbiage around this over at Reference Home Theater, so you should head over and have a look at the details.

Dec 05 2015

Guide - Using full disk encryption to cleanup data on old storage drives before discarding/recycling

If you have been computing long enough, eventually you will end up with a pile of old hard drives (HDD) and USB drives that are not useful anymore, but still work. The problem of course is that at one point they held potentially sensitive data, so while you could just format them and hope for the best it really is important to ensure that any data that was on the drive can no longer be retrieved before recycling or handing them off to someone else who will use them – and why not, just because you have moved on it does not mean someone out there cannot get more value out of it.

In the past those looking for a secure mechanism to remove data were told to overwrite the disk a large number of times, which can be very time consuming. Personally, unless you have been selling secrets to a foreign power, I think there is a better, and quicker approach to solving this dilemma – full disk encryption.

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