Ah, Christmas, a time of infinite craving for countless digital desires... We've decided to put our craving to the test and from now until 25 December we'll be on a mission -- each member of the team has been given £5,000 in Virtual Crave Pounds (VCP) to spend on the best consumer electronics gear he or she can find.
The rules are astonishingly strict. All Crave Christmas shopping products must be available for purchase online in the UK with normal English pounds sterling. Every VCP must be spent, right down to the last Virtual Crave Penny. To keep things interesting, every writer has been given one free Santa gift.
Here at Crave we look at all the latest high-tech gizmos. Yesterday we outdid ourselves with news of the very latest bag, but today we're upping the ante to bring you essential information on (drum roll please) a box.
Before you close your browser window and report us to the loony police, we should probably point out that this is no ordinary box. This is the SD11G5 -- the very latest small form factor (SFF) barebones case from Shuttle.
It looks much like any Shuttle XPC box. In other words, it's small, attractive and will probably make you the envy of your friends. What's different about this unit, however, is that it's compatible with the Pentium M processor, which until now has only been found in laptops. Continue reading...
ViewSonic -- it's an interesting name. If the powers of sound and vision were to join together and fight the forces of evil, that's what they'd be called. Or it's a Californian company churning out cheapish flat-screen TVs. The N3260w is a 32-inch LCD with high-definition compatibility, and it undercuts most of the competition at only £700.
The N3260w may not be as stylish as Samsung's LE32R41BD, instead offering a plain design similar to Toshiba's 32WL56. But if you're a connectivity junkie (and let's face it, what Crave reader isn't?), you'll let out a little moan when you see the cheeky HDMI input. Then you're likely to go light headed when you see high-definition component and VGA inputs -- they're just gagging for the Xbox 360 when it launches next month. The saucy minxes...
Assembled by shipbuilders on the Clyde and intended for voyage across the Atlantic, the Fusion Multi Media PC lacks a certain subtlety -- but then so would you if you were a fat steel beast. Despite its gargantuan size, old Fuzzy packs a title-winning right hook. For starters, the tacky Windows Media Center remote control has been upgraded to a smart-looking custom-built remote with a host of options that the stock controller leaves out.
Other vital stats include a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor, a 200GB SATA hard drive and 1GB of RAM. There's also a dual-layer DVD writer (for all your, ahem, backup needs) and a digital TV tuner.
Big White is at it again -- while other companies would be content with updating the world's most popular MP3 player last week, Apple just can't stop inventing. Today it's launched a new range of Power Macintosh G5s and PowerBooks. Dismissing what was cutting edge technology only yesterday (dual-core processors), Apple has gone straight to quad cores for their new G5. Vindictive pundits note that while Windows machines are still unable to utilise dual-core processors, OS X uses these quad processors right out of the box. Continue reading...
The most significant product launched by Apple last night was not the video iPod, though that was impressive, but instead a piece of software called Front Row -- which is bundled with its new range of thinner iMacs.
At first glance it appears like a fairly unremarkable Apple equivalent of Windows Media Center, but it is in fact dramatically different from Microsoft's efforts. So different that it represents a quiet revolution for Apple, and a major change in the way we view film and television.
While Microsoft struggles to win over the living room with PVR (personal video recorder) functionality that records live television on your personal computer, and continues to chase IPTV deals with the US cable operators, Apple is focusing on what it does best: providing a great user experience. Continue reading...
With a 64-bit, 3.8GHz Intel 670 processor and two SLI graphics cards, this mother is set to stun. Throw whatever game you like at it and it's not going to flinch with specs like that. Unfortunately, Windows XP has corrupted itself on our review machine, fresh through the door this morning, proving that it doesn’t matter how high-tech your hardware is, you can still have problems. We can't even re-install Windows because it won't accept its own product code. The greed of the multinational undermines the end user again, and we're left to puzzle over how we're going to get this machine up and running.
Windows doesn't even support 64-bit processing yet, so our redundant processor isn't missing out on much. Even if we had managed to boot the system, we'd only be using a fraction of the power these chips can deliver. Continue reading...
Last week Crave left the torrid heat of London to hit Europe's biggest consumer electronics show -- the Berlin IFA. It's such a vast show that they only hold it once every two years, and as it's spread across 21 aircraft-hangar sized buildings, we needed the weekend to recover. It's open to the public and will continue to rock out until 7 September.
This year, the Philips stand is the must-see attraction of the show. The always-dependable Dutch company pulled out all the stops, with a gaggle of new products, concept gadgets that will hit the market in five years' time and a great look at how it envisions the future of high definition.
Crave was particularly excited to see Philips' media centre PC, as it's the first time the Dutch giant has tackled the sticky concept of a PC in the living room. Having said that, it looked similar to Hi-Grade's DMS II in design, and as it's based on Microsoft's Windows Media Center software, it will operate in a similar manner to most other models on the market. Continue reading...
Our second newborn from Dell this week, the Dimension 5100, runs a 64-bit processor and uses a Balance Technology extended (BTX) motherboard to make the little critter run quieter. Only Windows XP Professional takes advantage of 64-bit processors, and even then few applications have been tweaked to actually use these chips. Previous versions of Windows can still be run on the 5100 -- you just won't be taking performance to the brink. On the other hand, smug Linux users will be able to take advantage of the 5100's extra power immediately -- a 64-bit version of their operating system has been around for a long time.
The 5100 is slightly stumpier than the 9100, but it shares the same bright white styling on the chassis, save for the front panel, which remains a prosaic, business-like silver and grey. The 2.8GHz Pentium 4 at the heart of this little white treat is a fiery beast for most mid-level tasks. Extreme gamers will find no refuge here though: the 5100 is not a Battlefield 2 machine. While the hardware in this Dell is well suited to basic video editing and graphics work, it has its work cut out to deliver great gaming performance, expecially given its rather meagre ATI Radeon X300 SE graphics card. None the less, the 5100 is shaping up to be a fantastic entry-level machine with more than enough power for most. Expect a full review soon. -CS Continue reading...
With the notable exception of Macs, computers have never been the prettiest objects to behold. But the new 9100 is a huge improvement on Dell's difficult goth period (where all its machines had black chassis and front-panels with gaping scars across them).
Dell has swapped the previous generation's scars for a piercing -- its new range of desktops have a massive hole through the front-side of the case which doubles as the perfect carrying handle. A huge nose-ring slipped through this would give the Dell some serious punk credentials. (Come on! We know everyone wants a PC with counter-culture aspirations.) This handle is especially useful if you cart your machine around the house from time to time, but the serrated edges on the hole bite into your hand like a playful puppy. It's nothing to cry about, but it seems rather cruel.
What do you do if you're manufacturing the world's kookiest-looking PCs but you want to sell your Alien-headed weirdness to lawyers and accountants? No one is going to take their bank manager seriously if her PC has purple neon underlights and a scene from War of the Worlds airbrushed onto the case.
In the interests of widening its appeal to the more comatose professions, Alienware have just launched this understated mid-tower chassis. We love its Trojan-horse philosophy and though it looks a little bland considering the company's other perversions, that was the idea.
If our egos weren't already inflated from having killed our way to Lance Corporal ranking in Battlefield 2, we're now going to seriously bring the pain to the infidels with our Zboard. The latest in a long line of peripherals for totally l33t gamers, the Zboard has brand new keysets for certain games, and by happy coincidence the one we were sent was for our Favourite Game Ever™.
It's a cool idea, but it certainly divided opinions on Crave. Those who've got used to the standard keyboard layout -- or their own custom set -- found it difficult to adjust, and when you've clocked up 50+ hours, any change is bad. Others found it much more easier to adapt -- not only are the keys better spaced, but they're all labelled, so if you decide to bail out of a helicopter, you can find the parachute button before your face meets the pavement.
Upgrading from a two-year-old Dell with genuine coffee-stained patina to the Demonite OverXtreme SLI would be an experience bordering on the religious. This desktop gives Alienware a reason to fire up the gatling guns and oil the portcullis. Prepare for full-on rebel-assault class warfare. This Demonite is London after winning the Olympic bid: fast, determined and slightly drunk with exuberance.
While older desktops leave us feeling myopic, juddering through games with brain-wrenching frame-dropping sloth, the Demonite whizzes at such startling speeds you'll nearly lose control of all bodily functions. You'll only come back to any awareness of your real-life environment hours later, mouth still agape and a little puddle of dribble pooled on your chinos.
Apple's OS X Tiger brought us many delights, but our favourite by far is the Dashboard. If you've not got Tiger yet (are you mad?) then you won't know that Dashboard is a series of widgets that magically fly in from somewhere off-screen and provide useful things like flight-trackers, encyclopaedias and weather reports.
Our copy of OS X Tiger came with a selection of Dashboard Widgets included, but Mac users have been designing their own over the past few months and we've stocked up on the critters. Here's the lowdown on some of our favourites.
So you want to know how fast the Alienware Aurora 7500SLI is? You're despicable, you speed junky. Isn't anything else important to you? Alright, just this one time we'll give in to your relentless badgering: It's VIOLENTLY fast, the kind of fast that rips a hole through your skull and leaves tendrils of scalp flapping in the wind like tassles on a Harley.
This PC is Evel Knievel strapped to a rocket, hurtling through the air screaming, "More! More! Give me something that's really scary, you pathetic freaks!" In short, this PC is so fast it cusses you. Nothing we threw at the Aurora made it break a sweat.
Somebody pinch us! This thing actually works! Yet again the gods have smiled on our hideous faces and granted us a Media Center PC that's fully functional out of the box. We've never had this kind of luck before.
The Elonex Lumina is an LCD television with a Media Center stuck to its back like a barnacle. It's thicker than your standard LCD TV, but it's also more powerful. We switched the slab on and expected it to give us a hearty slap in the face -- after all, every other Media Center has.
You're an extreme gamer are you, punk? You think you know your SLI systems? You think you know how to daisy-chain high-end graphics cards and overclock processors? God, you sicken me. Truly sicken me. Get out of my sight.
This is the Alienware Aurora 7500SLI and it's here to mess you up. It's here to kick you in the teeth and jam polygons down your throat until you're dead. Then it'll take your corpse and put two nVidia processors in your eyes to pay the boatman. That's how ruthlessly quick it is.
Just when we'd given up on Media Center PCs as a bad job, the Elonex Artisan parachuted in and made us think again. Three seconds after opening the box, we had it up and running.
Elonex openly challenges the competition with the Artisan. It might as well have stood up and slapped the Higrade DMSII in the face with its own CD tray. It's really that much better. Continue reading...
Hang on! Isn't Intel Apple's arch enemy? Well, as Anakin makes his final transformation into Darth Vader on cinema screens across the country, it seems like Apple has made its own Lucas-inspired cross over to the dark side. Despite famously setting light to Intel's bunnyman in a parody advert, Apple has announced it's making the switch to Intel processors.
Could this be the Media Center that got it right? We usually end up volunteering to strangle each other after playing around with a Windows Media Edition PC. Will the Lumina be the beastie to change our haggard frowns and mutual death-threats to smiles and kisses?
The Lumina is set to arrive at Crave later today and we've been labouring over the spec sheet like puppies dribbling over spilt bolognese. The Lumina's 3GHz P4 processor, 32-inch LCD screen and 1,344x786 resolution make us glad to be alive. As soon as this sucker turns up, we're going to be all over it, stroking and preening like freaks.