The 2006 CES served as the first opportunity to get solid information on tantalising hardware glimpsed over the course of 2005. Among the biggest news was Intel's move to reveal the exact specifications for PCs using its new Viiv (rhymes with 'jive') system, but not to be outdone, AMD launched its own rival (and rhyming) platform, known as Live.
We didn't see any Live kit, but there were a few vendors showing off Viiv systems. Alienware announced the fairly standard-looking Area-51 3550, and the more unorthodox Area-51 5400, the company's first all-in-one PC. According to Matthew Elliot, it uses the dual-core Centrino Duo CPU, has an integrated camera, and should set you back around $2,000 (1,130).
There's plenty of movement in the world of laptops, too. Justin Jaffe saw Sony debut two new dual-core notebooks, the high-end VAIO FE series, and the thin-and-light SZ series. The former features a 15.4-inch Xbrite widescreen display, an integrated Webcam, and an optional TV tuner. The latter is set to replace the Vaio S series, and has a 13.3-inch screen, biometric security, hard-drive protection and Bluetooth. Continue reading...
With all my Crave money spent, I've been promised one more Christmas present, (virtual) money no object. I've been a pretty good boy this year, so Santa owes me big. This is especially true since the bloated, greying old schmuck has ignored my letters requesting a Lamborghini Diablo for the past twenty years.
I'm a little older and wiser now, and have come to the realisation that a Diablo simply wouldn't be useful in London. Not only would it get scratched by deviant children, but I don't think Italy's finest is fast enough to evade Ken Livingstone's array of congestion charge cameras.
With this in mind, I've decided my ultimate Santa gift should be a little more practical, so I've gone for the Sun Fire E25K Server -- Large edition. Nick Hide's awesome Alienware PC is a true gaming monster, but when it comes to raw computing horsepower, the E25K is like a 100-strong herd of steroid-addled stallions pulling a chariot made of Styrofoam. Being driven by a cockroach. If it were a car, it'd make the Diablo look like a wind-up toy tractor. Continue reading...
Here's my problem: I'm a complete klutz, but I love computer games. This means consoles are a no-no, for most kinds of games, because the handheld controllers are too clunky. PCs, on the other hand, offer the greatest, most klutz-friendly interface ever devised -- the mouse. But a decent PC that'll run 3D-heavy modern games is very complicated, which is where we get to my other problem: I know nothing about computers.
Thank heavens, then, for Alienware, with its off-the-shelf approach to high-performance gaming and wacky boy-racer designs. No colour is too bombastic for these chaps, no movie tie-in too shameful. And boy, do they move polygons. As we've noted before, playing Battlefield 2 on an Alienware is the closest our fire-and-forget generation will (hopefully) come to real war. It's seat-of-the-pants stuff, jet-plane fast and wounded-tiger furious -- utterly unpredictable and seamlessly drawn. Continue reading...
The Mac Mini caused something of a stir when it was first unveiled, prompting Apple-loving fanboys to mock PC users relentlessly for months on end.
Most of the Windows faction simply responded by asking, "Am I bothered?" But secretly they were very perturbed. They yearned deeply for their own PC-flavoured Mac Mini with the sort of passion that only manifests itself when a fat child sees cake.
Fortunately Evesham is set to answer PC users' secret prayers with the Mini PC. It's not hard to see where the Mini PC got its inspiration. Designed by Aopen, it shares the same dimensions as a Mac Mini but uses a laptop motherboard and processor. Continue reading...
This is the first installment in a series of posts in which I, your favourite Crave reporter, will spend 5,000 on the Christmas presents I most desire in the world. My first choice is the quad-core Apple G5.
Some computers are fast, others are raging demons of hell-fulled anger that blister through Photoshop tasks like US soldiers taking out Vietnamese jungle. There is no fury like an Apple scorned, and this company has had its fair share of detractors over the years.
Perhaps you are less easily swayed, but I cannot resist the seductive lure of the aluminium chassis, the perforated vents, the quad-core G5 processor. The tech which beats aggressively in this silver womb instills in me the kind of desire that cannot be reasonably described in polite company. This G5 quite simply is the best Christmas present anyone could hope to recieve.
At 2,299, this G5 takes a fair chunk out of the 5,000 budget I've been given to squander by my CNET overlords, but I don't care: I can buy it at the Apple Store and that's what I'm going to do. But can you put a price on two dual-core 2.5GHz PowerPC processors, PCI-Express expansion slots and an Nvidia GeForce 6600 graphics card? I'd posit not. Continue reading...
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.