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News Archives for April 2009

Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 02:50AM
Author: Nemo

Continuing in the tradition of aircraft-inspired cases begun with the B2 Stealth Bomber, In Win is back with its X-Fighter case. We also get another opportunity to check out the Cooler Master HAF 932 full-tower chassis (reviewed by OCC here). Intel released its Nehalem-based Xeon processors this week and Legit Reviews examines a pair of the server processors. On the desktop side today's roundup turned up a review of the AMD Phenom II X4 940 processor (also reviewed by OCC here). Every now and then we turn up a nugget or two and today that means a look at a group called NecroResistatnce that's using the Left4Dead game as a training simulator. The group is based in Idaho if that tells you anything.

Cases
InWin X-Fighter @ XSReviews
Coolermaster 932 HAF @ Neoseeker

Cooling
Mushkin Does Liquid Cooling! eXtreme Performance Liquid Tested @ Madshrimps
Zalman CNPS 9900LED CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers

CPUs
Intel Xeon X5570 and E5520 Gainestown Processors @ Legit Reviews
AMD Phenom II X4 940 @ Motherboards.org

Gaming
Left4Dead Used as Training Simulator by Military Group @ [OC]ModShop

Memory
Corsair 6GB DDR3-1866 Dominator GT Memory @ Legit Reviews

Motherboards
ASUS Rampage II GENE @ Bjorn3D

Networking
ASUS WL-500g Premium V2 Multi-Function Wireless Router @ TweakTown

Storage/Hard Drives
Icy Dock MB882SP-1S-1 2.5” to 3.5” SATA Hard Drive Convertor @ Tweaknews


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AMD Is Where It's At

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 08:53AM
Author: MrAlex

As you know, with the release of Intel's new Nehalem processors, they now have the claim to the fastest processors available. But, as AMD have put it "The market for the fastest part is always small and in this economy it’s likely even smaller". Thus why AMD produces cheaper, less powerful processors. If AMD really wanted to, they could create an equally as powerful processor, if not even more powerful than Intel, but they choose not to. The reason being that AMD would start to loose money than actually gain any. Read the amusing interview AMD has here, which has official reference to the Bulldozer since early 2008!


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Conficker has Activated; No Consequences Yet

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 09:53AM
Author: DLS2008

The newest worm, Conficker, that everyone has been worried about for the past few months has activated today as planned. The latest estimates suggest that the worm has infected between 10 and 15 million machines, creating the largest botnet ever seen. Previously, the infected computers have been contacting approximately 250 domains to check for and download updates. The activation is based on the infected machine's local time, so not all infected machines have activated yet. For those that have activated, they generate a list of 50,000 domains and poll 500 of those generated to try to connect with command-and-control servers. Although many of the infected machines have started this process, nothing of importance has happened yet. McAffee Avert Labs has noticed the worm polling, but has not seen any detrimental effects from it yet. It is possible that the developers are waiting for the hype to die down before they begin their damage. However, time is not on their side as it is relatively easy to detect and remove the worm. Many precautions are being implemented to prevent Conficker from contacting its command servers. It is unknown whether those efforts will help.

Let's hope that the worm was simply an April Fool's joke and the creators are happy simply having annoyed people and diverted time and money from companie trying to prevent it.


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Super Talent's RAIDDrive SSD

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 09:54AM
Author: DLS2008

Super Talent has just announced their newest line of solid state drives known as RAIDDrive.  The drives use a PCI Express 2.0 x8 slot and provide up to 2TB of storage. Either MLC or SLC Nand Flash memory is used depending on the price level of the drive. The line boasts superb speeds with sequential read speeds up to 1.2GB/s and sequential write speeds up to 1.3GB/s. The line offers three levels of drives: RAIDDrive ES (Enterprise Servers), RAIDDrive WS (Workstation), and RAIDDrive GS (Gamers). The RAIDDrive ES is designed for computation intensive applications and includes a battery which will prevent data loss during a power outage. An additional feature will allow users to enable an internal RAID 5 array to back up data.

The press release has been confirmed by SuperTalent, but as they informed me, the product probably won't be marketable until Quarter 3 of the current fiscal year.

More and more SSDs are starting to utilize PCI Express slots instead of SATA connections. Seems as though everything will eventually end up mounted to the motherboard.


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Android May Be Coming To a Netbook Near You

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 04:02PM
Author: CheeseMan42

HP is reportedly considering the Android platform, developed by Google, for future netbook applications. The current offering of netbooks from HP use Windows, but it is no stranger to Linux. HP already offers a customized version of Ubuntu as an option for some desktop computers. However, Android was meant for smart phones, and may not be the ideal choice for netbooks. Many variants of Linux are already available on netbooks and another may just further crowd the market. Android does provide a distinct advantage it its' ability to run across all devices with little modifications. Whatever the outcome, any time Google gets involved, people listen.


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Firefox 3.0 Takes Lead in Europe

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 04:09PM
Author: cold_snipe

For the first time, Firefox 3.0 has become the most popular web browser in Europe. Last week it overtook Internet Explorer 7.0 in popularity, by about half of a percent. However, these results are a bit misleading; if you consider all versions of Internet Explorer against all Firefox releases, Microsoft's option comes out on top. Only when you break the charts down into versions does Firefox win.
Globally Firefox 3.0 not only lags ten percent behind Internet Explorer 7.0, but even the earlier version, IE 6.0 has a three percent lead in usage. These results might gradually change after the release of Windows 7, which gives users the option to completely disable Internet Explorer.


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Upcoming Wolverine Movie Leaked To Torrent Sites

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 04:30PM
Author: CheeseMan42

A copy of the upcoming movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released to torrent sites yesterday, a full month before it hits theaters on May 1. It is said to be full-length and high quality, but without some of the final special effects and sounds. Initial reactions from those not associated with Fox are mixed. Some are saying that those who download the movie weren't going to go see it anyway. Others feel that reviews that could come from this may turn away potential viewers and cost the studio millions of dollars. Whatever the case, it appears that companies need to take more precautions with intellectual property. The official response from Fox indicates a that they will do everything they can to destroy the person responsible for this.


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Zork Returns in MMO Form

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 06:14PM
Author: ClayMeow

Back in 1980, Infocom released Zork I: The Great Underground Empire, a text-based adventure game that many of you may be too young to remember. I personally wasn't introduced to the Zork universe until 1993, when I purchased Return to Zork. Return to Zork brought the game out of the text-based adventure genre and into the point-and-click adventure genre, but my version of the game included the original trilogy, so I got a taste of it.

The last Zork game released was all the way back in 1997; that is, until now. Legends of Zork, a "casual massively multiplayer graphical adventure game," brings you back to the Great Underground Empire, all in the comfort of your web browser. Produced by Jolt Online Gaming, Legends of Zork is free to play, there's no need to download a client, and you're even allowed to create multiple characters under one account. Aware that it's April 1st, I was obviously skeptical, and it seems Jolt is aware others may be skeptical as well. However, I registered and played and can confirm it's indeed real.


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Electronic Arts Loosens DRM Stance

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 07:06PM
Author: ClayMeow

It was only a matter of time that Electronic Arts would realize that aggressive DRM hurts more than it helps. When EA published Spore last year, the backlash to its initial SecuROM three-install limit was enormous, eventually leading EA to increase the install limit to five. Still, to many people, the mere inclusion of SecuROM was enough to keep them away (or worse yet, lead them to acquire pirated, cracked versions), so EA began selling it on Steam, DRM-free. Still, since May of 2008, EA has used SecuROM in 19 of its PC games. Fortunately, EA has recently announced that customers can now "deauthorize" computers to get around the install limits. More importantly, EA Play head Rod Humble announced that The Sims 3 would be without SecuROM. Set to release on June 2 (my birthday), The Sims 3 will go back to the good old days of serial keys and no online authentication required.


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Hulu Attempts Encryption

Posted: April 1, 2009 @ time: 08:53PM
Author: gebraset

Throughout the depths of the Internet, programs can be found and downloaded to parse different websites for certain information that they contain. Many people that do not even visit Hulu on a regular basis have been parsing the site for a while now, using various plug-in tools and applications that they manage to scour. The website is now taking some action, and is encrypting their HTML code, so when JavaScript decrypts it, it can not be read by anything but a standard everyday web browser. While this seems like a decent idea, it also seems that a man named Martin Millmore figured out how to get passed it, by figuring out the encrypted code Hulu used. After this finding, the website has not made any announcements on the findings, or what it plans to do next because of the workaround on its HTML encryption.


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NVIDIA Claiming Performance Lead With GTX 275

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 01:48AM
Author: jammin

As you may have noticed with the reviews appearing around various hardware sites this morning, both the Red and Green teams have refreshed graphics cards for you to consider. Never shy about trumpeting its achievements, NVIDIA dropped an email into our inbox this morning to remind us that it has claimed the performance advantage (for this price bracket) with its new GTX 275 GPU. Of course, while you can most likely go and order yourself a HD 4890 card right now, you might have to wait until the 14th until you can grab a GTX 275. If you are lucky enough to live in certain areas you may be able to order now, such as in the UK with Novatech or Scan, or with Komplett in Sweden, Norway or Denmark. NVIDIA also provided some US and Canada links in the email, but they don't appear to have gone live yet (expect an update when they do).

To coincide with the release of the GTX 275, NVIDIA has also released some new PhysX and CUDA enabled content for GeForce owners in the shape of Geforce Power Pack #3. This includes a demo and benchmark for Star Tales from Chinese developer QWD1, a PhysX patch for Sacred 2: Fallen Angel and a CUDA accelerated version of SETI@Home.


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 01:48AM
Author: jammin

It must be that time again, and something that happens seemingly ever more frequently. Yes, it's new GPU release day, with both AMD and NVIDIA releasing refreshed parts to go head to head in the $229 to $249 price category. Naturally, OCC also has reviews of the new cards, available for your viewing here, here and here. NVIDIA is already claiming a performance lead, but is that the whole story? There are plenty of reviews to check out, so you can find out for yourself. If all this graphics card stuff bores you, then there is also some other hardware to take a look at.

Video
Sapphire and PowerColor ATI HD 4890
@ Neoseeker
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 Unleashed @ HotHardware
ATI Radeon HD 4890 Unveiled @ HotHardware
Gigabyte Radeon HD 4890 1GB & Sappphire HD 4890 1GB @ TweakTown
ASUS EAH4890 @ [H]ardOCP
AMD Radeon HD 4890 and NVIDIA GTX 275 @ PC Perspective
NVIDIA GTX 275 vs ATI HD 4890 @ Legit Reviews
NVIDIA GTX 275 @ Bjorn3D
AMD HD 4890 & ASUS HD 4890 Voltage Tweak Edition @ Bjorn3D

Power
NZXT Performance Power 800W PSU
@ ThinkComputers

Hard Drives / Storage
Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320GB Notebook HDD
@ Legit Reviews
OCZ Vertex Real-World Test Caught On Tape: SSD vs HDD @ Madshrimps

Cases
In Win BM650 Mini-ITX Chassis
@ TweakTown

Input Devices
Razer Arctosa Gaming Keyboard
@ Tweaknews


Complete Story


Sapphire Announces Two HD 4890 Videocards

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 02:59AM
Author: Nemo

Today Sapphire Technology released two new cards in the 4890 series based on the same architecture as the HD 4870 series, but with higher clock speeds and increased performance. The HD 4890 cards uses the 55nm R790 core offering 800 stream processor units, 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface and an integral hardware video decoder. Improvements include better memory management architecture and lower power requirements at idle while allowing higher clock speeds. The standard HD 4890 model from Sapphire has 850MHz core clock speed with the memory clocked at 975MHz. Sapphire's second offering is the HD 4890 OC Edition with enhanced clock speeds of 901MHz for the core and 1000MHz memory which places this card as the fastest single GPU ATI-based card out there. Both models feature a 1GB frame buffer. The Sapphire 4890 cards are PCI-Express 2, of course, with CrossFireX support and the latest ATI Avivo technology for better video output along with an enhanced hardware Unified Video decoder for Blu-ray and HD DVD content using VC-1 and H.264 codecs. The cards also sport dual-link DVI outputs, and TV-Out and a dedicated HDMI adaptor. The cards are expected to retail around $249US and Sapphire announced it would also be announcing additional cards in the 4890 in the coming weeks. OCC has a review of the Sapphire HD 4890 here.


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PowerColor Expands 4800 Series Product Line with HD 4890 Cards

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 03:22AM
Author: Nemo

As you probably figured out by now, today was launch day for the latest and greatest card based on the ATI HD 4890 series. PowerColor launched its versions of the card with the announcement of the HD4890 and PLUS HD4890 cards making them the two fastest cards in PowerColor's product lineup. The HD 4890 offers 800 stream processors and standard clock speeds of 850MHz (GPU) and 975MHz (memory). PowerColor is also offering an overclocked version called the PLUS HD4890 with increased speeds of 900MHz for the core and 1000MHz for the memory. The base HD4890 boasts up to 3.9Gbs data rates using 1GB GDDR5 memory and the PLUS version kicks that up to 4.0Gbs. Other features include PCI_Express 2 and DirectX 10.1 support as well as Shader Model 4.1 support. PowerColor said the HD4890 and PLUS HD4890 will retail for US$259 and US$269 respectively with immediate availability. OCC was fortunate enough to be able to review the PowerColor HD 4890 here.


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Verizon Hopes To Bring Broadband To Rural Areas Using 4G Network

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 03:53AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Verizon Wireless has announced that it intends to use the recently purchased 700MHz spectrum to bring wireless broadband to rural areas across the United States. The main goal is to provide for cell phone networks, but the frequency may be exactly what is needed to bring broadband to those remote areas. Wired broadband networks cost a substantial amount of money, and running them to sparsely populated areas isn't financially viable. The new 4G network will allow Verizon to build fewer cell towers while still covering a great distance. With the desire of the government to bring broadband access to these areas, Verizon would be able to get all the help it needed to make this a reality.


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Swedish Traffic Down

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 05:58AM
Author: redtigerdragon

And no, I don't mean the kind you sit in to go to work. Since the new anti-piracy law, IPRED, went into effect yesterday, internet traffic in the country has dropped. That's according to Computer Sweden, as traffic over Netnod, a company that measures most of the Internet traffic between Swedish and international networks, was 80Gbps Wednesday. That's compared to 120Gps on Tuesday, and traffic being steady (i.e. not dropping 40Gps) the previous week. However, the company is not saying there is a link between the two events. IPRED, or the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, will require ISP's to give IP addresses to copyright holders when courts find proof of illegal activities. However, groups are trying to combat the law. The Pirate Bay is offering a service called IPREDator, which will shield your IP address. The Pirate Party, which lobbies for and open, free and anonymous internet, has also said to stop encryption on wireless networks, as this can allow others to use it and dissociate yourself from the crime.


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Make your AMD Phenom II X3 an X4 with NVIDIA's chipset

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 06:06AM
Author: MrAlex

That is correct people, there is now a new way to unlock the 4th core on AMD's Phenom II X3, and that is by going over to the green camp. What do you need? You need the GIGABYTE GA-M720- US3 motherboard using the Beta BIOS F3F, along with 4th week 2009 AMD Phenom II X3 (batch code 0904). If you are one of those lucky users with this combo of motherboard and CPU, head on over to HWBOX.gr now! Note that other motherboards and chipsets may work as well.


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Mother Killed For Playing Playstation

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 12:08PM
Author: oldfett

Malcolm Palmer, a 62 year old man, killed his wife on Monday for playing too much PlayStation. The couple had been married for 30 years and lived in Long Sutton, Lincolnshire. The console belonged to their 10 year old son who would play until midnight, when his wife, Carol Cannom who was 46 would pick it up and play until the morning. Mr. Palmer was forced to sleep on the sofa so that his wife could play the game in the bedroom with their 37" plasma TV. In court he stated that, "he was very unhappy about the amount of time she was playing on the PlayStation."On Monday evening he attacked her with two kitchen knives inflicting over 20 stab wounds to her upper torso. Their son overheard the attack and called the police, the husband apparently then calmly took the phone and stated, "I'm sorry. I think I've killed her." Mr. Palmer will be sentenced on Wednesday.


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Time Warner to Roll Out Tiered Web-Use Pricing in Some Areas

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 01:45PM
Author: ClayMeow

Back in February, we reported how Time Warner was planning to expand its bandwidth capping to more locations, but we were unsure if its initial pricing scheme was going to stick. Earlier this week, Time Warner Cable (TWC), the newly spun-off cable company, announced that it will expand its capping to four new locations, but this time with a tiered pricing structure. Beginning this month, TWC "will begin collecting information on its customers' Internet use in the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio and in Rochester, N.Y." The new billing changes will not begin in those cities until later this summer, but Greensboro, N.C. will see the changes sooner. TWC will offer four tiers of 5, 10, 20, and 40GB, priced from $29.95 to $54.90 a month. Customers who exceed their plan's cap will be charged $1 for each GB they're over. The new structure is certainly better than Time Warner's initial rollout that just had the 5GB cap, but it still goes a long way from appeasing most customers.

In today's society, downloading and/or streaming high-definition videos over the web is commonplace. A typical HD movie is roughly 8GB of data. According to Sanford C. Bernstein in a recent report, a family on the 40GB plan that streams 7.25 hours of online video a week could end up spending $200 per month in usage fees. A little over seven hours per week may sound like a lot, but to put that into perspective, the average American spends 60 hours per week watching TV. TWC claims that of the 10,000 broadband customers enrolled in Beaumont, TX (where TWC conducted its test of the 5GB cap), only 14% exceeded their cap and had to pay and average of only $19/month in additional fees. However, with the major television networks hosting most of their shows online in HD, and services like Netflix allowing a customer to stream full-length HD movies online, it's not unreasonable to view the 7.25 hours of online video watching per week as lowballing it. The problem with the Beaumont test is that the mere existence of the cap could turn many people away from the more bandwidth-intensive task of streaming HD video, not because they don't want to watch videos online, but rather because they're scared of exceeding their cap and paying enormous fees. In fact, consumer advocates think that tiered pricing could wind up stifling innovation "by crimping demand for high-bandwidth services such as online video and music." Critics further contend that such pricing may "impede new online media businesses before they even have a chance to flourish." Ouch!

But streaming video and music isn't the only contributor to high bandwidth usage; what about gaming? Playing an online game does not use up a lot of bandwidth, but downloading said game, or patching said game...well that's another story. Launched in 2003, Valve's digital distribution platform Steam is one of the hottest gaming innovations of the past decade. It has evolved from a mere content delivery platform to encompass digital rights management, multiplayer matchmaking, friends lists, chatting, achievements, and more. The most important aspect of Steam, however, is its library, which as of March 31, 2009, included a whopping 628 games. Why is that important in the debate on bandwidth capping? For the majority of Steam's 20 million (plus) userbase, purchasing and downloading games over Steam is the norm. Today's games don't often fit on CD's anymore, they eat up gobs and gobs of gigabytes. For example, if you recall a recent news item about Unreal Tournament 3 on Steam, that download was over 8GB. Apparently those test subjects in Beaumont haven't entered the 21st century like the rest of us.

Unfortunately for us consumers, TWC isn't the only company looking at pricing tiers and/or bandwidth caps. One such company, Comcast, is at least a little more reasonable with its caps, capping residential bandwidth usage at 250GB per month. Furthermore, Comcast doesn't charge a customer if they happen to go over. Instead the customer gets a phone call, warning them of the excessive use. Subsequent abuse can lead to a subscription canceled, but at least they get a warning first, rather than a $200 bill.


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Microsoft Office for the iPhone?

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 02:43PM
Author: DLS2008

Microsoft Office isn't coming just yet, but it's getting closer. At the Web 2.0 Expo, Stephen Elop, President of Microsoft Business Division, hinted that Microsoft Office may be coming for the iPhone. However, when questioned about the statement by the interviewer, Elop said, "Not yet, keep watching." Currently, the iPhone allows users to view Microsoft Office files, but there is no support for creating or editing them. This has caused some business users to hold off on purchasing an iPhone and stick with Blackberry which supports creating and editing Office files.

However, for those iPhone users looking for a way to edit Office files, there's still hope. Quickoffice will be releasing an application to the iTunes App Store that will allow iPhone users to create and edit Word and Excel files. It will be released sometime this month and will retail for $13 USD per application (Word and Excel are separate) or $20 USD for the set. Screenshots and more information is available on the Quickoffice website.


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AT&T To Offer Reduced Price Netbooks With Long Term Contract

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 02:48PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Cellphone companies have long offered new phones at sharply reduced prices when signing up for a long term contract. The consumer gets the hot new technology at a cheap price, and the company gets guaranteed business. AT&T is extending this into the netbook realm with a new promotion, currently available in Atlanta and Philadelphia only. With this promotion, customers will be able to get a new netbook for as low as $50. The catch? A two-year subscription for a wireless data plan and a home DSL connection totaling $60 a month. For those of you who already have wireless and home internet, it would be a much better idea to just buy a netbook.


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Looking For A New Monitor? How About 56 inches @ 3840 x 2160

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 03:29PM
Author: jammin

Unfortunately Eizo's new RadiForce LS560W LCD monitor doesn't have a suggested retail price, as well as being specifically intended for use in operating theaters. Medical imaging needs to be precise because of the sheer nature of the work it is used for, and having a 56 inch screen running at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 means that you can replace multiple displays with one large one. According to Eizo this should lead to improved working efficiency when compared with multiple monitors, due to the distracting nature of screens with borders and the fact that multiple monitors can have varying display properties (hue, etc). There will also be a separate interface unit that inputs video to the monitor, allowing each input to be displayed on any part of the screen. How about four full HD sections for some nice multi-player gaming action? No? Alright then.


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Gigabyte HD 4890 Videocard Unveiled

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 08:34PM
Author: Nemo

Today was launch day for the latest AMD Radeon 4800-series videocards with the release of the HD 4890. Along with that launch comes the Gigabyte GV-R489-1GH-B videocard based on the standard HD 4890 design. The release makes it the fastest single-GPU Radeon card in Gigabyte's product lineup and it sports some impressive features. The RV790 GPU core contains close to one billion transistors and higher memory bandwidth. With its 800 stream processors the  GV-R489-1GH-B can pump out over one teraFLOPS of GPU computing power. Its 1GB GDDR5 frame buffer provides twice the data per pin of GDDR3 memory at the same clock speeds according to Gigabyte. The GV-R489-1GH-B graphics card provides DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support for the best in realistic gaming effects. The GV-R489-1GH-B also comes equipped with TeraScale graphics engine, Dynamic Geometry Acceleration and Quad mode ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU support. In addition to outstanding gaming capabilities, the card also has ATI's Avivo HD video and display technology supports Unified Video Decoder 2 for offloading the decoding of processing-intensive content for 1080p HDTV and HD video. The GV-R489-1GH-B also provides HDMI connectivity with 7.1 digital surround audio support. The V-R489-1GH-B is equipped with ATI PowerPlay technology that allows it to deliver maximum performance when needed while reducing power requirements in low-demand applications and at idle.


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Ritz Camera Closing Stores; Liquidations to Follow

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 08:54PM
Author: DLS2008

Ritz Camera will be closing almost half of its stores. This is part of the new bankruptcy status Ritz Camera has found itself in. A total of 300 Ritz Camera retail stores will close out of a total of 700 retail stores currently open. The press release stated the liquidation will continue until "everything is sold to the bare walls." This means that everything in the store, not just camera equipment, will go. If you've been looking to pick up any new camera equipment, now is you chance to get a great deal on some. If you've been looking for somewhere to put your Folding farm, now is your chance to pick up cheap shelving. If you have a Ritz Camera store near you, it's probably in your best interest to drop by and see what's for sale. Ritz Camera also owns other chains, such as Boater's World, Wolf Cameras, and Kits Cameras. Boater's World's 137 stores are also slated to close.  The Ritz Camera chain all started with a single store in Atlantic City in 1918, now they are barely hanging on. A full list of the stores that will be closing can be found here.


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NZXT Challenge Counter-Strike 1.6 Tournament

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 08:57PM
Author: Nemo

If you live for the excitement of Counter-Strike 1.6 and you and your buddies can scrape together $5 a piece, you should check out the NZXT Challenge Tournament. The double-elimination tournament is accepting registrations until Thursday, April 16th and competition begins on Sunday, April 19th.

Tournament details:
- 128 teams, double elimination.
- $5.00 registration fee per player.
- Matches played twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
- Registration is open from Thursday, March 26th - Thursday, April 16th.
- Standard CEVO rules apply, 15 round halves, $800 start money, and teams will knife for side choice.
- Maps are de_dust2, de_nuke, de_inferno, de_train, de_tuscan, de_russka, and de_forge (Map Rotation: TBA).
- The CMN3 will be enabled for all matches.
- Teams are permitted to dispute a maximum of two players per team per match.

Head on over to the CEVO site for more details.


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Nvidia SLI Now Supported on Gigabyte X58 Motherboards

Posted: April 2, 2009 @ time: 09:27PM
Author: Nemo

One of the drawbacks some people may have encountered when looking at building a system based on the Intel Core i7/X58 platform is the lack of support for multi-GPU setups using Nvidia graphics cards. Today, Gigabyte announced today that its entire lineup of X58-series motherboards will now support SLI technology. All that is required is a BIOS upgrade which you can download from the Gigabyte web site. That means existing owners of Core i7-based machines who thought they might be locked in to using only a single graphics cards as well as users looking at a new build have another option besides CrossFireX for for running more than one graphics card.


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 02:53AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup is pretty light after the deluge from yesterday's launch of Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 275 video cards. We did manage to turn up a couple additional reviews on the latest cards from ATI and NVIDIA though. If you have young kids, they might get a kick out of the USB Frog mouse. Core i7 system builders looking for a good set of mid-range memory should check out the Mushkin HP3-12800 DDR3 memory kit. We also turned up reviews on the Speedlink Chronos headset and a comparison review of several HDD docks.

Input Devices
USB Geek USB Frog Mouse @ RBMods

Memory
Mushkin HP3-12800 DDR3 @ Bjorn3D

Speakers/Headphones
Speedlink Chronos @ XSReviews

Storage/Hard Drives
Attack of the HDD Dockings: Sunbeamtech,Sharkoon,Thermaltake @ Madshrimps

Video
ATI Radeon HD 4890 in Crossfire @ TweakTown
ATI Radeon HD 4890 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 @ Techgage


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Biological Battery Bonanza

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 09:36AM
Author: redtigerdragon

Okay, so it's not a bonanza. But it is a biological battery. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the ultimate environmentally friendly battery. The technology has a virus that was genetically engineered to create an anode by coating themselves with cobalt oxide and gold, and then self-assembling to form a nanowire. It also has a virus for the cathode: they coat themselves with iron phosphate, and then attach to carbon nanotubes, in order to create a network of highly conductive material. Neither virus is harmful to humans. And while it currently only goes for 100 cycles of charge and discharge (A lithium-ion battery goes for 300-500), the scientists believe they will be able to go for longer. Plus, you know, they have the whole "we-don't-hurt-the-earth" thing. I guess it does take a rocket scientist...


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VLC close to 1.0

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 10:01AM
Author: redtigerdragon

On Thursday, VideoLan released VLC version 0.9.9, a bug fix release that corrects a few issues with the previous version. The new release allows fullscreen behavior on Windows with multiple screens, has a workaround bug with libxml2 >=2.7.3, gives better video performance on Intel-based Macs, and adds various decoders updates on Windows. It also has updates to it's Real Media demuxer, which will give better performance with Real Media Files. You can download it here.


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Learn How to Program For the iPhone, For Free

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 03:49PM
Author: CheeseMan42

If you are itching to learn how to program for the iPhone, then Stanford University has you covered. Stanford will be offering videos of the class, iPhone Application Programming, for free on its' iTunes web site. Users will be able to get all the information that those enrolled in the class will received, with the exception of receiving class credit for their hard work. The class will provide students with an understanding of coding practices for mobile applications, and will also give an overview of good design practices. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to cash in on the money making opportunities available through the iPhone App Store.


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OCZ's 90% Efficient Power Supplies

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 06:27PM
Author: DLS2008

OCZ Technology Group, Inc. has just released the Z-Seires of highly efficient power supplies. There will be three styles to choose from : Z550, Z650, and Z1000. The numbers in the power supply's name implies its wattage, i.e. Z550 is 550W. The Z1000 earned the 80 Plus Gold 90% efficiency standard, and the Z550 and Z650 both met the 80 Plus Silver efficiency standard. The Z1000 managed a typical efficiency (50% load) of 90.93%, the Z650 scored a typical efficiency of 89.19%, and the Z550 earned a typical effiicency of 88.91%. A unique feature, the Z1000 will be available in both modular and non-modular designs. The new line of power supplies will hit the reail market later this spring and will be sold with a 5 year warranty.


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SAMSUNG Now Taking N120 Pre-Orders

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 08:11PM
Author: gebraset

Netbooks keep expanding in different variations, as countless companies continue to improve and innovate products that follow in line with the compact and portable category. SAMSUNG is one company to be doing this, and has made its N110, N120, and N310 netbooks available for pre-order to consumers. The latest though, is the N120, which will obviously feature an Intel Atom processor, along with a 10.1-inch screen. Exact specifications haven't become official yet, but it is assumed that the product will have 160GB of hard drive space and 1GB of RAM. Also to be included with the N120 is a full size keyboard, usually found on a 12.1-inch notebook, and not a 10.1-inch netbook. The company is claiming this netbook will provide up to 10.5 hours of battery life, all from a 6-cell battery that is standard. For now, the pre-orders can be found among various websites for an average list price of around $460, though better deals can be sought out with some simple searching.


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New EVO Game Console Launches Beta

Posted: April 3, 2009 @ time: 10:05PM
Author: cold_snipe

Envizions is releasing 100 beta units of its EVO Smart Console to the public. Sporting a 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64x2 with an ATI HD 3200 and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, these units are available for $279-$350. Why the price difference? Well the less expensive one offers a version of Linux dubbed Mirrors. In fact, EVO is the first game console to use the open source Linux operating system. While this is an interesting idea for a console, I am not sure how it will compare to the Big Three (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii). Personally, I am not expecting an open source revolution in the console market anytime soon.


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Intel loses market share to AMD

Posted: April 4, 2009 @ time: 02:11AM
Author: MrAlex

After the release of Intel's Core 2 Duo microprocessors, AMD lost a massive amount of market share. Now with the economic crisis, and every penny counting, AMD have seen a nice boost in market share especially since AMD dominates Intel in low price, high performance. With the introduction of AMD's Phenom II, AMD have given Intel's Core 2 Quads a run for their money, especially since AMD's new microprocessors are cheaper, and in almost all cases out-paces most of the Core 2 Quads. Later this month AMD will release new quad-core Phenom IIs which should pose some sort of threat to Intel's Core i7. Time will tell, and it's time that AMD regain some ground in the market.


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Hardware Roundup: Weekend Edition

Posted: April 4, 2009 @ time: 05:28AM
Author: Nemo

Another weekend has rolled around and we have some interesting tidbits for you to check out today. Let's start off with something for the extreme overclockers out there. Extreme overclocking requires extreme cooling and that usually means dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Our friends over at Madshrimps have a review of the Dragon Extreme LN2 cooler whose packaging describes it as a "Solid cooper CPU liquid nitrogen overclocking unit". Pretty cool, huh? Don't stop there though - make sure you check out the rest of the reviews in our weekend roundup by following the links below.

Cooling
Dragon F1 Extreme Edition LN2 COoler by K|ngP|n @ Madshrimps

Gaming
Interview with NCsoft's Lani Blazier About Aion MMORPG @ [OC]ModShop

Modding
How to Repair a broken PSP LCD Screen @ [OC]ModShop

Networking
ASUS RT-N15 SuperSpeed N Gigabit Wireless Router @ TweakTown

Storage/Hard Drives
Super Talent Pico 16GB @ Bjorn3D

Video
Different Brand Video Cards Change What You See in Games @ Legit Reviews
Overclocking the ATI Radeon HD 4890 @ TweakTown

Miscellany
Fast and Furious Movie Review (2009) @ [OC]ModShop


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Nintendo DSi Has An App Store of Its Own

Posted: April 4, 2009 @ time: 10:27AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Nintendo is launching the new DSi tomorrow, and with it comes an online store where users can purchase games starting at $2. The original DS has sold 100 million units worldwide since its release, and Nintendo is hoping that some of those people will want to buy this upgrade. The new version will come with a microphone and all features of the previous DS, except for the ability to play Gameboy Advance games. Apple has started somewhat of a revolution with its' App Store, and it look likes Nintendo once again wants to prove its dominance in the hand held market.


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PlayStation 3 Firmware Gets Updated

Posted: April 4, 2009 @ time: 06:09PM
Author: gebraset

Recently Sony has released a new firmware for the PlayStation 3, putting it up to version 2.70 for the console. The new update brings a couple welcomed features by the gaming community, including chat options, the ability to synchronize PSP video, and even the ability to backup and save video content purchased with the PlayStation game system to an external hard drive. With chatting, users can talk to up to fifteen people, while in-game, out of game, or during the process of transferring between the two. This feature alone is making more people want to download the update from Sony and receive it themselves. Two more bonuses to the new firmware is that file attachments can now be up to the size of 3MB, up from the previous 1MB limit, and that the friends list can be sorted in multiple ways, including alphabetically, or by online status.


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NVIDIA Releases New ForceWare Beta Drivers

Posted: April 4, 2009 @ time: 09:00PM
Author: gebraset

Going through the year, all companies usually release new and updated drivers for their products, and two main companies that computer enthusiasts and gamers follow are both AMD and NVIDIA. New Catalyst software for Radeon cards is released every month, and GeForce drivers are found on a semi-regular basis as well. Recently though, new ForceWare drivers have been pushed out from the graphics card manufacturer, labeled as 182.65, though there is also a 182.66 build up for download at the moment. In this version comes a new interesting feature, known as ambient occlusion, which is a function inside the control panel of the updated beta version of the NVIDIA ForceWare drivers. This option allows for some older games, such as Half-Life 2 and World of Warcraft, and some newer games, such as World in Conflict, to experience shadows that are normally hidden because of their softness in areas like the corners of a room and where objects meet walls. Sadly, this lighting enhancement will cost most games a frame rate hit of anywhere from twenty or forty percent, but should not be a problem on more advanced systems. The green team has also only included the feature inside of the new beta driver, and not the 182.50 ones that are considered stable for consumers.


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Clearwire to Offer Developers Free Access to WiMax

Posted: April 5, 2009 @ time: 11:44AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Clearwire has announced that it plans to offer free access to its 4G wireless network to developers located in Silicon Valley. Clearwire hopes that giving free access to this 20 square mile area full of talented engineers and big companies, like Google, will encourage development of applications that will get more people interested in WiMax. Companies need to apply for the developer program and give a brief description of what they hope to achieve. The developers will have full access to the WiMax network, and will only need to purchase a USB modem for $49.99. Clearwire currently offers WiMax service in Baltimore and Portland, with the hopes of expanding to many more areas in the near future.


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Google Street View Coming to Canada

Posted: April 5, 2009 @ time: 02:45PM
Author: cold_snipe

That's right, Google Street View will soon be available in Canada. Two years after its launch in the US, Canadian pictures from the camera-mounted Google Car are soon to be released. However, these pictures are not brand new; Google started mapping the Canadian city of Toronto soon after its US launch. The two-year delay is attributed to the privacy concerns raised by Canada's federal privacy commissioner. Google has proposed the solution of blurring faces and license plates along with accepting any requests to remove specific images. While some are still concerned, Google will go ahead and send its drivers out to 11 cities across the country for further mapping. Expect these new tours to be completed in a few months.


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Palm Pre Allows More Freedom For Application Developers

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 03:43AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Apple has long had an app store that can be considered robust and perhaps even the best of app stores. Palm is hoping to unseat Apple in this with the applications allowed on the Palm Pre, the smart phone Palm is banking the future on. Palm believes that by taking away some of the restrictions present in iPhone applications, such as inability to run in the background, that it will be able to offer better applications. The Pre will also offer an application so that PalmOS applications can be run on the new webOS. The iPhone OS 3.0 will solve some of these issues, and its release may hinder the spread of the Pre.


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 04:17AM
Author: Nemo

We kick off the week with a little bit of everything in our roundup today. In the case department we get another look at the NZXT Rogue small form factor case and in cooling there's Zalman's CNPS9900 cooler. We also get a chance to check out the AMD Phenom II X4 940 processor (reviewed by OCC here). In videocards there are reviews of the HIS HD 4870 IceQ 4+ Turbo 1GB DDR5 and the Gainward GeForce GTX 275. Of course we have lots more so make sure you check them all out using the links below.

Cases
NZXT Rogue SFF Gaming Chassis @ ThinkComputers

Cooling
Zalman CNPS9900 LED CPU Heatsink @ PC Perspective

CPUs
AMD Phenom 2 940 CPU @ RBMods

Input Devices
Razer Arctosa @ Bjorn3D

Mobile
Plantronics Explorer 370 Ruggedized Bluetooth Headset @ Legit Reviews

Motherboards
ASRock A780GMH/128M Motherboard @ Motherboards.org

Notebooks
Netbook Computing : Staying Productive While Remaining Afloat in a Recession @ Tweaknews

Sound Cards
ASUS Xonar Essence STX @ Techgage

Storage/Hard Drives
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 @ Bjorn3D

Video
HIS HD 4870 IceQ 4+ Turbo 1GB DDR5 @ Viper Lair
Gainward GeForce GTX 275 Graphics Card @ TweakTown


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No More Sun for IBM

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 08:40AM
Author: redtigerdragon

On Sunday, IBM withdrew its $7 million offer to Sun Microsystems. This was after Sun's board complained at a plan introduced by IBM for a reduced offer. Had the deal gone through, IBM would have been the main supplier of high-end Unix servers. This could have presented legal problems in the form of anti-trust lawsuits, as well as contracts with IBM competitors. This caused IBM to reduce the offer from $9.55 a share to $9.40 a share. Sun then countered by saying it wouldn't abide by its exclusive negotiating agreement with IBM. IBM countered by saying the deal was off. The two companies had been haggling over details for a while: IBM felt that senior employees had too high of pay, relatively, and that too many employees were getting the pay; Sun was most concerned about making sure IBM couldn't just up and walk away from the deal. Whether or not removing the deal from the table is a tactic by IBM to get Sun to agree to their demands is unclear at the moment. However, if Sun's share prices drop below its Friday closing price of $8.49, expect major investors to push the company back into negotiations to seal the deal.


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Crysis, 7 days, Free

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 11:25AM
Author: MrAlex

Ladies and Gentlemen, on the 9th of April, you will be able to play Crysis Wars online for a whole week for free with absolutely no limitations! Crytek, the company famous for releasing the most graphically intense game engine ever is giving back to the community. Crysis Wars is the online version of Crysis Warhead, although it's quite ironic that it has the same suffix as Halo Wars? Coincidence? Who knows, all I know is that it's a free week of online play! Get your Crytek account ready to play online! If you don't have an account I suggest you get one soon before it's too late!


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Retro Mod: The Commodore 64 Laptop

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 11:56AM
Author: jammin

If you are old enough to remember the original Commodore 64 (which was released back in 1982) then you'll probably be suitably impressed by the latest in a long line of mods from Ben Heck (which have included laptop versions of the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii). The Commodore 64 laptop manages to successfully capture all of the beige plastic style of the original machine, though it opts for some modern touches, such as the SD card emulation of the old floppy drive. It does however make use of a C64C motherboard and is powered with a Gamecube power supply. For that authentic experience you even get long loading times, taking you back to the time when making a snack while waiting for your game to start was common practise. While I never owned a C64 myself (it was a little before my time) similar experiences with a Spectrum and an Amiga 500 (which came along later, but was still decidedly beige) mean I am not surprised to hear this is apparently one of Ben Heck's favourite mods to date. You can see a video of the machine in action by following the link.


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RE5 Online for Money?

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 12:51PM
Author: redtigerdragon

Resident Evil 5 was a big hit. And now fans of the game can prepare for the next chapter. Tomorrow, Capcom will release its new online multiplayer mode for both Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network. It will have two different game types: Slayer's Rule and Survivor's Rule. Both will have a maximum of four players, and can either be free-for-all or team play. Slayer's Rule has you hunting Majinis for points. Survivor's Rule has you pit mano-a-mano (or mano-y-mano vs. mano-y-mano). The catch? For some reason, it costs an extra $5.


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HP's Pavillion dv2 Goes On Sale, Gets Unboxed

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 03:52PM
Author: jammin

While the market for netbooks continues to grow, AMD has been notable for its lack of any real presence in the sector. Rather than looking to go into competition with Intel's Atom processor, AMD has its own Neo processor, which is now debuting in HP's Pavillion dv2 notebook. The Neo platform is aimed above that of what would commonly be described as a netbook, offering more processing power along with 12 inch screens rather than than the 10 inch or smaller models commonly found with the Atom platform (though we have seen some larger exceptions to this appearing). The inclusion of ATI graphics and the fact that the dv2 runs Vista Home Premium x64 means that it is edging towards a fully fledged laptop. The guys over at cnet have managed to get a hold of a dv2 and have taken a few unboxed shots. We were told at back at CES in January that prices would start at $699, and the configuration that cnet grabbed came in at $749, which isn't too far away. You can also buy that very same configuration right now direct from HP. For that price you get a 1.6GHz Neo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD, 1280x800 LED screen, Radeon HD 3410 graphics, 802.11 a/g/n and an external DVD-RW drive.


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New VMWare Program Will Save You 50% On Hardware

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 04:31PM
Author: CheeseMan42

VMWare is offering a new promotion, the VMWare Guarantee Promotional Program, that promises to save 50 percent on server hardware. With this promotion, customers won't have to pay for design or implementation until the 50 percent savings has been achieved. A 200 server minimum is required, and the limit tops out at 750. If the company has any leftover server hardware after the virtualization optimization is done, VMWare will help to move that hardware with the help of an outside contractor. VMWare's major goal is to show that you can save money by using their software over traditional methods.


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PC Power & Cooling Debuts First UPS

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 07:07PM
Author: Nemo

PC Power and cooling are know for their high-end power supplies and now they've entered the UPS market with the announcement of the Pro-Source 1500VA uninterruptible power supply. The unit provides 1500VA/900W at 97% efficiency. What makes the Pro-Source 1500 unique is that it offers a pure sine wave output instead of a step sine wave found on lesser units. PCP&C claims a 10 minute run time under a 600W load. Power can monitored via software using a USB or Ethernet cable and the unit can keep you apprised of power failures via e-mail and pager alerts. The unit also features a front display panel that provides feedback on critical items such as battery charge level, temperature, load, input/output voltages and remaining backup time. The units uses 3 12V, 7Ah rechargeable lead acid batteries which are replaceable. The Pro-Source 1500 sells for about $300US and comes with a 3-year warranty.


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Yahoo Revamps Its Music Service

Posted: April 6, 2009 @ time: 08:58PM
Author: gebraset

After realizing that its music service did not have a large customer and user base, and having a controversy over the music being sold not being transferable in the past, Yahoo made Rhapsody its main supplier of music for its service known as Yahoo Music, sometime last year. Now,  the search engine company is going to launch a newly redone music site that provides more features than before. With the new site will come the ability to listen to songs through other websites and suppliers such as iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Pandora, YouTube, and even Last.fm. Yahoo will also offer users the option to make their own page if they want to, which will benefit artists, solo musicians, and record labels as well. A more open type of platform for music was also announced in September of last year. The revamped service should see the light of day as of tomorrow, and first impressions will count a lot due to the previous history with Music Unlimited, the last music service attempt by Yahoo


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