Tuesday, May 31, 2011

G.Skill showcases its latest SATA 3 SSD, Phoenix II Pro, and ultra high performance desktop memory series with massive density at Computex 2011.

Taipei, Taiwan – 31st May, 2011 - G.Skill International Co. Ltd., manufacturer of extreme performance memory and high performance solid-state storage, has released its latest SATA 3 6gbps SSD, Phoenix II Pro, based on the latest SandForce SF-2200 controller with the whopping random write speed up to 60K IOPS, and numerous ultra high performance memory series designed for the latest released platforms at Computex 2011.

Featured products:

The fastest 16GB kit for Intel Z68/P67 platform - DDR3 2,300MHz CL9-11-9-28 16GB (4GBx4) 1.65V RipjawsX kit

No compromise! The G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3 2,300MHz 16GB(4GBx4) kit provides the fastest speed and the maximum capacity on the latest Intel P67/Z68 platforms. It once again proves that G.Skill RipjawsX series is the best memory solution for PC enthusiasts and extreme overclockers to reach the best performance of their 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors.

The highest performance on AMD 990FX platform - DDR3 2,133MHz 16GB!

G.Skill Flare series DDR3 memory has been well known as the top performance kit among AMD enthusiasts, since it’s the world’s only one DDR3 2000MHz kit guaranteed at AMD platform. G.Skill has been consistently working closely with our partners to develop faster memory for the latest AMD 990FX platform. After the significant effort, G.Skill is glad to finally bring the ultimate memory with ultra high speed of 2133MHz CL9 and maximum capacity available of 16GB to its Flare family.

The biggest memory monster - 48GB(4GBx12) 2000MHz CL8

It is the first time G.Skill demonstrates the legendary super big size 48GB (4GBx12) memory package in public events since it launched in July 2010. During Computex 2011, G.Skill displays this memory monster running at faster speed of 2000MHz CL8 on the luxury EVGA Super Record 2 (SR-2) motherboard with two Intel Xeon LGA1366 CPU. This dream machine is definitely the ultimate super computer available in the market.

The fastest memory kit for Intel P55 platform - DDR3 2,400MHz CL9-11-10-28 8GB (4GBx2) 1.65V Trident kit

To satisfy P55 owners’ demand of pushing the memory speed to the boundary, G.Skill has managed to provide the ultra fast 2,400MHz 8GB memory kit. It is the ultimate memory solution based on 4GB stick for extreme memory overclocking enthusiasts.

Ultra fast triple channel memory kit for Intel X58 platform–DDR3 2200MHz CL9-11-9-28 12GB (4GBx3) Trident kit

G.Skill has released the extreme performance 2200MHz triple channel memory with ultra high capacity of 12GB. It provides overclocking enthusiasts and extreme gamers the best memory solution for breaking overclocking records with the Intel Core i7 extreme edition processors.

The latest innovation of SATA 3 SSD - Phoenix II Pro SSD based on ultra high performance Sandforce SF-2281 controller with incredible random write speed up to 60,000 IOPS

By partnership with SandForce, G.Skill has released its new SATA 3 SSD, Phoenix II Pro. Different from its previous generation Phoenix II, the new Phoenix II Pro drive has a great improvement on random write speed with enhanced IOPS up to 60,000. The new Phoenix II pro drive will be available at 120GB and 240GB with ultra fast sequential read/write speed up up to 550/510 MB/s

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ASUS’ Innovative Product Lineup Wins Multiple Computex 2011 Best Choice Awards

-- Featuring the best in tablets, media players, displays, wireless devices and notebooks — ASUS’ leading innovation and engineering expertise is show cased at Computex 2011 --

Fremont, California (Computex, May 31, 2011) ― ASUS continues to invest heavily in research, development and manufacturing of the finest consumer technology products in the world. Reliability, quality, performance and environmental responsibility attributes blend with a forward-thinking design philosophy that guarantees a rewarding and fun user experience. All of these values have once again been recognized by the Computex Best Choice committee, which has selected several ASUS products* for 2011 honors, including the especially-prestigious Best Choice of the Year Award.
Eee Pad Transformer: Best Choice of the Year and Best Choice Design Awards
This exciting tablet from ASUS was chosen by the Computex panel for the innovation, stylish design and flexibility it offers at an extremely affordable price. The Eee Pad Transformer was highlighted for its light yet powerful design, which provides a unique platform for productivity, media and entertainment. It now features the Android 3.1 operating system, up to 16 hours of battery life with the optional Eee Station keyboard dock and the proprietary ASUS Waveshare interface. The tablet is powered by an NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 dual-core processor, has a brilliant 10.1-inch scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® glass IPS screen, and weighs just 1.56lbs. The Eee Station dock adds a full QWERTY keyboard, touch pad, two USB ports and card reader for a better input experience and enhanced storage expandability.

O!Play Gallery Media Player: Best Choice Display and Digital Entertainment Award
Enabling a wide range of high definition multimedia content on a single easy-to-use device, the O!Play Gallery was chosen for its streamlined design and features. It offers superfast USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, together with support for standard 3.5-inch hard drives, iPod/iPhone compatibility and access to a wealth of online services, including Netflix (in select markets), YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and thousands of TV and radio channels. O!Play Gallery ships with exclusive O!Direct functionality, making possible one-click wireless streaming of media from PC to TV. Audio content is augmented by Gracenote meta-data, while integration with a home entertainment setup is effortless thanks to 1080p video and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio output.

VW247H-HF LED and Bamboo Collection U43SD: Best Choice Green ICT Awards Awards
The Computex Best Choice panel recognized the investment by ASUS in developing ecologically sound consumer technology that offers excellent performance while never compromising environmental values. The 24-inch monitor was awarded the Best Choice Green ICT accolade as the world’s first halogen-free PC display — a feature previously highlighted by Greenpeace in its 2010 Electronics Survey. The monitor uses a mercury-free LED panel and consumes 65% less power than standards dictated by Energy Star 5.0 requirements. ASUS has also taken measures to eliminate a long list of hazardous materials in the VW247H-HF’s production, going well beyond the demands of accepted industry standards. The result is a long-lasting monitor with a high degree of recyclability featuring a stylish design with 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio and crisp 1080p HD image quality.

The Computex 2011 Best Choice committee also selected the ASUS Bamboo Collection U43SD notebook for its contribution to environmental protection and the advancement of stylish portable computing. By applying bamboo, a rapidly replenished resource whose production has little ecological impact, the U43SD offers a natural and more personal computing experience. Bamboo not only reduces the amount of plastic used in manufacturing by 15%, it also matures and changes its appearance over time to create a unique look for every notebook. The U43SD includes powerful 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors and NVIDIA® GeForce® graphics for outstanding performance in every task.

WAVI: Best Choice Communication Award
ASUS’ new Wireless Audio Video Interaction technology — WAVI, for short — introduces remote HD media streaming for home PCs. It uses two wirelessly connected devices that can be placed up to 25m apart to stream content from a PC placed in one room to an HDTV in another. The simple setup, minimal space and power requirements, and robust signal transduction technology that eliminates interference and other issues usually associated with wireless products are reasons why ASUS WAVI has been recognized by the Computex Best Choice panel as a tool with significant potential for redefining content consumption and PC-based communication.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

ASUS Launches New AMD 9 Series Motherboards offering Superior Performance, Reliability and Features

-- New AM3+ based motherboards offer a class leading DIGI+ VRM digital power design and innovative UEFI BIOS that is a first for the AMD platform --

Fremont, California (May 30th, 2011) ― Continuing its leadership in innovation, design and performance, ASUS the number #1 and most awarded motherboard brand is excited to announce a new lineup of innovative AMD based motherboards that support the 990FX/990X/970 chipsets and AM3+ CPUs. The models available are the M5A99/97 Series, the TUF SABERTOOTH 990FX and the ROG Crosshair V Formula. Featured models offer ASUS’s award winning UEFI BIOS and the second generation of Dual Intelligent Processors (DIP2), comprised of the award winning TurboV Processor Unit (TPU) and Energy Processor Unit (EPU) for superior performance and energy management. The new motherboards will be the first on the AMD chipset based platform to support DIGI+ VRM (Digital power design) and both multi-GPU technologies, AMD’s CrossFireX™ and NVIDIA’s® SLI™.

ASUS M5A99/97 Series feature Dual Intelligent Processor 2 with DIGI+ VRM
The ASUS M5A99/97 Series motherboards offer unsurpassed compatibility with new AMD AM3+ socket CPUs, while also being backwards compatible with the previous generation AM3 processors. The M5A99/97 core series is equipped with DIP2, which features DIGI+ VRM technology in addition to the TPU and EPU processors that offer enhanced performance and power management. DIGI+ VRM power delivery allows a user to precisely adjust and control power settings digitally for precise power control and flexible tuning of their system.

Unlike older analog designs, DIGI+ VRM is perfectly suited for the AM3+ CPU specification’s new power demand requirements that benefit from precise power flow adjustment, enhanced power efficiency and extra DRAM power control for stability. Also included on the M5A99/97 Series motherboards is the intuitive and feature laden ASUS UEFI BIOS menu interface. UEFI BIOS allows a user to control and adjust their motherboard settings through the use of a mouse-enabled interface for a superior user-friendly experience that BIOS and Hybrid-EFI solutions do not offer.

SABERTOOTH 990FX has CeraM!X aerospace-grade cooling technology
The newest addition to the TUF Series motherboards is the SABERTOOTH 990FX. Known for their unrivaled quality and reliability in extreme conditions, the SABERTOOTH 990FX features the use of CeraM!X, an exclusive aerospace-grade cooling material that is extremely effective in conducting heat away from vital system components. Also onboard is ASUS’ Thermal Radar technology that consists of ten sensors located on vital motherboard components, which provides users the ability to actively monitor each one individually and automatically adjust fan speeds to ensure a high level of system stability without overheating.

The SABERTOOTH 990FX features TUF components, which are comprised of military-certified alloy chokes, solid state capacitors and MOSFETs built to withstand the most extreme usage conditions possible for greater system stability and longevity. A TUF motherboard built with high-end components ensures quality and tested server-grade reliability and are certified TUF only after a series of extreme stress tests including maximum temperature and humidity tolerance, so users are ensured of owning the best and most reliable motherboard on the market.

ROG Crosshair V Formula redefines AMD Performance
The Crosshair V Formula with AMD 990FX chipset-based is not only the first ROG motherboard with AM3+ CPU support, but it is also the first AMD motherboard to support both 3-Way NVDIA® SLI™ and AMD CrossFireX™ as well as offering an advanced UEFI BIOS and DIGI+ VRM design not available on competing solutions. A wide array of advanced ROG overclocking tools are on hand too, while onboard SupremeFX X-Fi 2 delivers the most intense and immersive gaming audio experience. Better still, high-performance Intel® Ethernet with GameFirst technology creates a LAN connection that is fast enough to keep up with the pace of modern multiplayer gaming over an internet connection that is also used being used for other online tasks.

To really make it the ultimate gaming motherboard, the Crosshair V Formula/ThunderBolt also comes with the ThunderBolt audio/LAN combo expansion card. The class-leading XONAR™ audio technology provides dramatically better sound quality than any standard audio card, while its built-in headphone amplifier with adjustable impedance settings makes it perfect for competitive gaming or enjoying the latest media titles. The Crosshair V Formula/Thunderbolt* also incorporates the award-winning Bigfoot Networks™ Killer™ E2100 networking platform with exclusive Advanced Stream Detect™ technology that automatically classifies and prioritizes traffic for online games, HD video and audio streams for optimum performance, even when performing these tasks simultaneously. ASUS’ innovative design and performance trend continues as the Crosshair V Formula features advanced support for 4-way NVIDIA SLI via the use of the exclusive ROG XPANDER add-on board.

Visit ASUS at Computex 2011
ASUS will be showcasing these complete AM3+ solutions, as well as the new Intel® Z68 Series boards, and more at the ASUS Computex 2011 Booth at the Nangang Exhibition Hall. Please stop by to see the latest innovations ASUS has in store or visit our Computex 2011 website for more information: http://press.asus.com/computex2011

*Check www.asus.com for product details and availability. Product specifications and features may change without prior notice.

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Asus EAH5550 Silent Video Card Review by Mike Fackrell

Well if you are looking to knock out one more fan on your HTPC this might just be the card you are looking for! ASUS has put together a well performing AMD Radeon HD 5500 engine with cooler running 1Gb DDR2 memory and look Mom … no “fans” (ouch that hurt).

Inspection and install:

The first thing you notice on the card is the massive heat sync, it really looks like it can displace a massive amount of heat. Now I say massive but it does stay within the confounds of a standard two slot PCI Express x16 card and will not interfere with anything else next to it. Measuring in at just over 5 in. wide and just under 4.5 in. tall which should fit in most HTPC cases that support full height cards. The EAH5550 does not require any additional power connections from the power supply, it is simply plug and play. Install was quite easy, just un-box and snap it into an available x16 pci-e card slot and you are good to go.

Software / Driver Install:

Drivers are available for Windows XP (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit) and Windows 7 (32/64 bit). Also included is a bundle of software that helps you manage your new card.

ASUS SmartDoctor provides 3 major features:
1. VGA card information and running status for GPU temperature, and so on.
2. Overclocking feature where you can set clock and memory frequencies on the fly.
3. GPU temperature detection and monitoring, it will let you know if things start to heat up.

Available for Windows 7 or Windows Vista 32/64-bit Edition.
Provides features such as GameFace Live, GameLive Show, HyperDrive, OnScreenDisplay, SmartDoctor, Splendid & VideoSecurity Online... If you wish to run these ASUS special features, you have to install the ASUS Driver (not AMD) first and then install "ASUS GamerOSD".

Specs and features:

Graphics Engine AMD Radeon HD 5550
Bus Standard PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory DDR2 1GB
Effective Memory Size 1024 MB
Engine Clock 550 MHz
Memory Clock 800 MHz ( 400 MHz DDR2 )
Memory Interface 128-bit
Resolution D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface D-Sub Output : Yes x 1
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
HDCP Support : Yes
Software ASUS Utilities & Driver
10% off Battlefield coupon
Dimensions 5.19 " x 4.38 " Inch



Well if you are after a silent video card upgrade with Blu-ray playback capability for you HTPC this would be the way to go. As you can see from the performance benchmarks it is not much of a gaming card but nothing is in this price range. It will still run some of the more popular games but don’t expect to have the graphics set to maximum quality. I played Dirt 2 just fine as well as Lost Planet 2 but I had to opt for lower graphics quality. All that aside it performs perfectly when playing streaming video, DVD and Blu-ray play back. It also performed well in photo and video apps including Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. It will support the biggest panel you can hook up to it at a max resolution of 2560x1600. Keep in mind If you have an i5 or i7 sandy bridge processor this does not offer much improvement but if you have an older box you are looking to upgrade this is your ticket. If you are looking for a low priced video card, with good performance, the Asus EAH5550 should be on your short list. Based on it’s quality, performance, and price, it has earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specs, check it out at www.asus.com.

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Samsung Mobile Introduces The Samsung Chrono™ With U.S. Cellular

Bluetooth-enabled Handset Boasts Easy to Use Interface

The attractive flip-style design makes the Samsung Chrono™ ideal for consumers looking for a quick and simple way to stay connected. Equipped with Bluetooth® Wireless capabilities, the Chrono is perfect for quickly pairing other Bluetooth-enabled devices while on-the-go for a seamless hands-free experience. Users can personalize the Chrono by using its easyedge(SM) services to download their favorite ringtones, wallpapers, games and business applications. The Chrono features an integrated VGA camera and 51MB of internal memory for users to store pictures, contacts, text messages and more. The Chrono is available in dark grey.


· Bluetooth® Wireless Technology

· Navigation Key

· Shortcut Key

· Speakerphone


· Multilingual Text Display with Prompts in English and Spanish

· easyedgeSM services: Downloadable Ringtones, Wallpapers, Games and Business Applications

· Auto Key Lock

· 72-Tone Polyphonic Ringtones


· Text and Picture Messaging

· Integrated VGA Camera

· Web browsing


· Dimensions: 1.83” x 3.7” x 0.67”

· Internal Display: 2.0” QVGA 262K TFT

· Weight: 3.14 Ounces

· Standard Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery: Up To 4.45 Hours Talk Time

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Friday, May 27, 2011

ASUS P8H67-i Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard Review by Mike Fackrell

Think of the P8H67-i Deluxe as a “Super Mom” because it does an excellent job at keeping everything running smoothly and efficiently!

Well if you have been thinking about building your own home theater PC for a while now may be the time to jump in will this great offering from ASUS and their P8H67-i Deluxe motherboard. With more and more of our favorite shows and movies becoming available online the benefit of having a real computer dedicated to handling this content and having the capability of connecting it to the HD display in the living room is becoming more and more appealing. As we all know the motherboard is the core of the system handling and coordinating everything that goes on inside that box. The P8H67-i Deluxe does a very good job and keeping things running smoothly and efficiently and it has everything you will need for a great home theater experience already built into the board.

Unpacking and inspection:

Well it is truly amazing how ASUS got all of these components packed into such a small form factor! The board specs out as an amazingly small 6.75in x 6.75in (mini-ITX), it is well built and neatly configured as you would expect from ASUS. Here is a list of everything that is included on the board:

Chipset Intel® H67(B3) Express Chipset
Memory 2 xSmall Outline DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16
VGA Supports HDMI with Max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
Supports DVI with Max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
Supports D-Sub with Max. Resolution 2048 x 1530 @75Hz
Max. UMA Memory: 1748MB
Storage Intel® H67(B3) Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray)
2 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (blue)
Support RAID 0,1,5,10
1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port
LAN Realtek® RTL8111E Gigabit LAN Controller
Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
Audio Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
USB Chipset built-in
- 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports at mid-board, 2 ports at pack panel)
Chipset built-in
- 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features ASUS Power Solutions
- ASUS Anti-Surge Protection
ASUS Exclusive Features
- GPU Boost
- MemOK!
- BT GO!
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- EFI BIOS (EZ Mode)
Back Panel I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x External SATA
1 x LAN(RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0/2.0
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
6 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x Wi-Fi antenna port
1 x Bluetooth
Internal I/O Connectors 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 connector(s) support additional 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 2 USB 2.0/1/1 ports
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x GPU Boost Switch
2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors
2 x SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
1 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
1 x 24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x System Panel connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper

Take note of some of the key features on this board like built in Bluetooth, USB-3.0 ports, built in wireless B/G/N, 2 x SATA 6Gbs ports and HDMI / DVI / VGA support. The board is well built and efficiently arranged, I had no problem fitting it into a small HTPC case. I wish it had one more USB front panel header, to handle a card reader and the front panel USB ports. Once more case manufactures include front panel USB 3.0 ports it won’t be an issue. The only thing this board seems to be missing is Firewire so no connecting that Firewire camcorder to this HTPC.

Setup and Install:

A few other things to note on install are to enable the on-board switch for GPU boost (more on that in a minute) and to make sure you are using at least a 350 watt power supply. The board uses SO-DIMMs regularly found in laptops so keep that in mind when shopping for memory. It will support DDR3 up to 1333 MHz (same as Macbook Pro). I was able to find some Patriot 2 x 4 GB sticks that worked just fine for less than $80.00. Top that off with a socket 1155 (i3/i5/i7) processor and a hard drive and you are ready to go.

BIOS: well if you haven’t had a new board for a while the new EFI Bios is completely different yet strangely familiar. Yes that is right, ASUS has dressed up that old DOS looking bios screen. It took just a few moments to get my bearings but it looks great and is very easy to use. Now you can now use a mouse to navigate in the bios configuration (wheel works too!). The EZ mode will work perfectly well for most users but if you need to dig deeper switching over to advanced mode is very easy and you can even make it the default mode. With the H67 chipset it does not allow anything but very minor overclocking on the CPU but the GPU boost allows the board to overclock the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics that can really help the display performance (I got a 31% boost!). This is all done with a click of a button and without worry of burning up your processor. This can all be configured in the BIOS (advanced mode) or with the included ASUS AI Suite application. With the AI suite you can monitor and tweak the board right from the desktop and it is also very easy to use, you just click on auto-tune and then click start and it will take care of the rest … no, really,… it is that easy! Instant no worries performance boost!

OS install went well with Windows 7 professional x64. Drivers are readily available on the included driver disk but for the video drivers I found that I got slightly better results from the latest Intel integrated HD 3000 Graphics driver (on Intel’s site) than I did from the ASUS site. My guess is that ASUS just has not updated it to the latest version yet, which I am sure they will eventually do. I used an i5 2500k processor and it was more than adequate for HTPC usage. Blu-ray disks played smooth and it was very responsive for your normal day to day work. I was able to get a Windows Experience Index of 6.1 for gaming graphics and 5.8 for graphics with the stock configuration. When I enabled Auto Tune from the AI Suite those scores went up to 6.4 for both of them (out of a possible 7.9)! Game play was improved although it is still no comparison to having a discrete dedicated card installed, frame rates went up about 30% but were still not high enough to play a graphic intensive game. If game play and home theater are your intended use I would recommend installing a dedicated video card to improve your 3D experience and that should also get you support for DirectX 11 (integrated graphics only supports DirectX 9).

One little thing I noticed when installing the drivers for the board there was a component called “PCI Simple Controller” that didn’t seem to install correctly even after selecting “ASUS InstALL” (which is supposed to install everything). I went back and installed them one by one an it turns out it was the “Intel Rapid Storage Driver Software”. I am not sure why it didn’t install the first time around. It was a simple fix so no worries.

Integrated Components:

With the integrated Bluetooth dongle, and the ASUS BT GO! application suite you can do a lot with your Bluetooth enabled devices including seven exclusive ASUS functions — Folder Sync, BT Transfer, Personal Manager, Shoot and Send, BT to Net, Music Player and the BT Turbo Remote. The latter is especially unique, as it turns Bluetooth enabled smart phones into a remote control for PC-based media player software. You can even reset and shutdown and Turbo Boost your system from across the room!

The built in wireless B/G/N antenna’s seemed to be a little weak on signal reception but once I placed the magnetic antenna’s in a better location they worked very well even through a few walls to the wireless router.

ASUS didn’t skimp on the audio on this board. It has the Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio which sounds great. I am so glad ASUS put in 8 channel audio, it is after all a HTPC board! It includes support for BD Audio Layer Content Protection and DTS surround sensation. It also has jack detection so when you plug into the front panel audio ports it disables the ports on the back allowing for easy headphone usage. It easily connected to a home theater audio receiver with the S/PDIF optical cable port on the back I/O panel.

Connecting to a display was very easy as well with the ever popular HDMI connection and the DVI and VGA ports as well. Running a dual monitor configuration was very easy to do and it detected my panel and monitor with no problems.

SATA 6G and USB-3.0 are welcomed additions to this board. A fast hard drive or SSD is quickly becoming just as important as selecting a fast CPU in order to keep up with the data throughput demands of today's applications and operating systems. As more USB 3.0 devices become available we will certainly be able to utilize them with this board. There are five SATA ports available which should be adequate for an HTPC. The two SATA 6G ports are designed for hard drives or SSD’s so remember not to plug in your DVD or Blu-ray drive into one of these ports, use one of the two blue SATA 3G ports instead. There is also an eSATA port on the back panel for connection to an external drive.


The ASUS P8H67-i Deluxe is a great foundation for an awesome HTPC; it has everything!
There is really nothing of significance holding you back on this board as far as performance is concerned. If you wanted to turn it into a small form factor workstation you easily could by dropping in an i7-2600K and a discrete video card and you are hanging with the big boys … except you have integrated wireless and Bluetooth AND so much more room under your desk!
Based on design, features, and performance, it has earned our Highly Recommended Award! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.asus.com.

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Asus EAH5850 DirectCU TOP Video Card Review

It all started with a game called Pong. Ever since then, we've been hooked on video games. And to make the games better, they need to have better and better graphics, and play faster and faster. All of this has pushed computers to be faster and faster. When it comes to graphics, the best improvement can cove from a fast video card. Enter the Asus EAD5850 DirectCU TOP.

The Asus EAD5850 Direct CU Top is a top performing card. Starting with the packaging you could tell it was a quality card. The packaging had great eye appeal, and had a photo of the cord and showed key features. Opening the box showed well thought out packaging as well. There was a thin box on top that held the manuals and driver and manual CD's. Another small box on the side held cables and the main compartment had a foam cut out to firmly hold the video card in place.

The quality of the video card is also very good. The heat sink is massive, with heat pipes and a built in fan. The materials used are very good, and the build quaity is also excellent. It is built for overclocking. and there is no surprise that it is factory overclocked at 110%.

It's features and specs include:

Graphics Engine AMD Radeon HD 5850
Bus Standard PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory GDDR5 1GB
Engine Clock 765 MHz
Memory Clock 4500 MHz ( 1125 MHz GDDR5 )
Memory Interface 256-bit
Resolution D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface D-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (via HDMI to DVI adaptor x 1)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories 1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
1 x Power cable
1 x HDMI to DVI adaptor
Software ASUS Utilities & Driver

ASUS Features Video & Color Engine ASUS Splendid HD
DirectCU Series
Dimensions 9.5 " x 5 " Inch

And the specs of the HD5850 processor include:

■2.15 billion 40nm transistors
■TeraScale 2 Unified Processing Architecture
◦1440 Stream Processing Units
◦72 Texture Units
◦128 Z/Stencil ROP Units
◦32 Color ROP Units
■GDDR5 interface with 128.0 GB/sec of memory bandwidth
■PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface
■DirectX® 11 support
◦Shader Model 5.0
◦DirectCompute 11
◦Programmable hardware tessellation unitAccelerated multi-threading
◦HDR texture compression
◦Order-independent transparency
■OpenGL 3.2 support15
■Image quality enhancement technology
◦Up to 24x multi-sample and super-sample anti-aliasing modes
◦Adaptive anti-aliasing
◦16x angle independent anisotropic texture filtering
◦128-bit floating point HDR rendering
■ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology2,4
◦Three independent display controllers
•Drive three displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays
◦Display grouping
•Combine multiple displays to behave like a single large display
■ATI Stream acceleration technology
◦OpenCL support14
◦DirectCompute 11
◦Double precision floating point processing support
◦Accelerated video encoding, transcoding, and upscaling3,5
■ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU technology6
◦Dual, triple, and quad GPU scaling
◦Dual-channel bridge interconnect
■ATI Avivo™ HD Video & Display technology7
◦UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator
◦Advanced post-processing and scaling8
◦Dynamic contrast enhancement and color correction
◦Brighter whites processing (Blue Stretch)
◦Independent video gamma control
◦Dynamic video range control
◦Support for H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2
◦Dual-stream 1080p playback support9,10
◦DXVA 1.0 & 2.0 support
◦Integrated dual-link DVI output with HDCP11
•Max resolution: 2560x160012
◦Integrated DisplayPort output
•Max resolution: 2560x160012
◦Integrated HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support and high bit-rate audio
•Max resolution: 1920x120012
◦Integrated VGA output
•Max resolution: 2048x153612
◦3D stereoscopic display/glasses support13
◦Integrated HD audio controller
•Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required
•Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats
■ATI PowerPlay™ power management technology7
◦Dynamic power management with low power idle state
◦Ultra-low power state support for multi-GPU configurations
■Certified drivers for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP
Speeds & Feeds
■Engine clock speed: 725 MHz
■Processing power (single precision): 2.09 TeraFLOPS
■Processing power (double precision): 418 GigaFLOPS
■Polygon throughput: 725M polygons/sec
■Data fetch rate (32-bit): 209 billion fetches/sec
■Texel fill rate (bilinear filtered): 52.2 Gigatexels/sec
■Pixel fill rate: 23.2 Gigapixels/sec
■Anti-aliased pixel fill rate: 92.8 Gigasamples/sec
■Memory clock speed: 1 GHz
■Memory data rate: 4.0 Gbps
■Memory bandwidth: 128 GB/sec
■Maximum board power: 151 Watts
System Requirements
■PCI Express® based PC is required with one X16 lane graphics slot available on the motherboard.
■500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode).
■Certified power supplies are recommended. Refer to http://support.amd.com/us/certified/power-supplies/Pages/listing.aspx for a list of Certified products.
■Minimum 1GB of system memory.
■Installation software requires CD-ROM drive.
■DVD playback requires DVD drive.
■Blu-ray™ playback requires Blu-ray drive.
■For an ATI CrossFireX™ system, a second ATI Radeon™ HD 5850 graphics card, an ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard and one ATI CrossFireX Bridge Interconnect cable per graphics card (included) are required.
1.HD capable monitor required.
2.Driver version 8.66 (Catalyst 9.10) or above is required to support ATI Eyefinity technology and to enable a third display you require one panel with a DisplayPort connector.
3.Requires application support for ATI Stream technology.
4.ATI Eyefinity technology works with games that support non-standard aspect ratios which is required for panning across three displays.
5.Digital rights management restrictions may apply.
6.ATI CrossFireX™ technology requires an ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard, an ATI CrossFireX™ Bridge Interconnect (for each additional graphics card) and may require a specialized power supply.
7.ATI PowerPlay™, ATI Avivo™ and ATI Stream are technology platforms that include a broad set of capabilities offered by certain ATI Radeon™ HD GPUs. Not all products have all features and full enablement of some capabilities and may require complementary products.
8.Upscaling subject to available monitor resolution.
9.Blu-ray or HD DVD drive and HD monitor required.
10.Requires Blu-ray movie disc supporting dual 1080p streams.
11.Playing HDCP content requires additional HDCP ready components, including but not limited to an HDCP ready monitor, Blu-ray or HD DVD disc drive, multimedia application and computer operating system.
12.Some custom resolutions require user configuration.
13.Requires 3D stereo drivers, glasses, and display.
14.OpenCL compliant driver and SDK release scheduled for later in 2010.
15.Driver support scheduled for release in 2010.
ATI Radeon™ HD graphics chips have numerous features integrated into the processor itself (e.g., HDCP, HDMI, etc.). Third parties manufacturing products based on, or incorporating ATI Radeon HD graphics chips, may choose to enable some or all of these features. If a particular feature is important to you, please inquire of the manufacturer if a particular product supports this feature. In addition, some features or technologies may require you to purchase additional components in order to make full use of them (e.g. a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive, HDCP-ready monitor, etc.).

Some of it's key features include:
Asus Splendid HD, Asus Gamer OSD, Asus SmartDoctor, GPU Guard, Asus Voltage Tweak

Asus Splendid HD:
When watching movies on a PC, some of the functions are still performed by the CPU such as the Pixel Shader, which is typically a GPU function. But with Asus Splendid HD, the HD images can be fine-tuned with the graphics card. The Splendid HP Video Enhancement Technology performs the same functions found in a TV's image-processing unit, so the videos look as good as they would have on your HDTV. Splendid HD also works with colors and dark scenes.

Asus Gamer OSD:
This is a real gamers treat. It provides overclocking, benchmarking, and video capturing, in all PC games, all in real time. Overclocking can be done during gameplay, and frames per second are even displayed, so you can monitor your OC performance. You can capture videos of your gaming, and watch it as video files. You can capture as screenshots as well. There is also a display setting screen where you can mintor your overclocking, benchmarking, and display settings. And again, all of this can be done in real time.

Asus SmartDoctor:
The Asus SmartDoctor is a great utility to monitor the health of your video card. It's hardware monitoring helps the card perform as you need, and also extend the life of your video card. It can monitor the AGP bus power level, GPU and memory temperature for speed, and shader clock overclocking. SmartCooling keeps the fan speed slow and quiet when high cooling is not needed.

Asus HyperDrive:
Provides 3 modes of overclocking
A) 3D Game Mode- HyperDrive will increase GPU core clock if 3D applications are detected.
B) CPU Usage mode- increases GPU speed if it detects a high CPU load.
C) Temperature Mode- The GPU speed is adjusted based on temperature.

GPU Guard:
Doubles the structural reinforcement to protect the board from cracks.

Asus Voltage Tweak:
Here, you can adjust the voltage of your card. This can further boost the speed of your card, and give up to a 50% boost in performance.

The quality, features and design really came together really well. The end results was a product that gave some excellent performance. Asus was confident enough in the EAH5850 DirectCU Top that they overclocked it 10%. I was able to overclock the processor and memory to HD5870 speeds. You can see how well it performed in the benchmarks below. The performance was quite impressive. And it did not matter what I thru at it. Movies, streaming, and gaming, all came out looking good and ran very smoothly.

In conclusion, the Asus EAH5850 is a solid performer. It is a massive board that gives massive performance. And being full Direct X compatible, it is ready for all the current games with an MSRP of $229, it is not quite a performance board. But while it is more of an upper mainstreem video card, the overclocking ability puts its ability more in the range of performance level card. Based on it's quality features, and performance, it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. Congrats! For more info and specs, check out their website at: http://www.asus.com/. Reference Componenets included: Asus P8P67 Pro Motherboard, Intel is 2500K processor, King 48+4GB Kingston Hyper X DDR3-2100 RAM, Western Digital 74 GB Raptor hard drive.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


New MobiCam Digital DL Wireless Monitoring System is Packed With Features & Functions And Is Competitively Priced

Culver City, CA, May 24, 2011 - Consumer electronics manufacturer, Mobi, is known for its relentless pursuit of innovative family-oriented technologies. Mobi has just debuted it's newest digital wireless Audio/Video monitoring system, the MobiCam Digital DL.

"We are excited to unveil our newest digital monitoring system in the MobiCam lineup", said Andrew Buckband, national sales manager. "The most exciting part is we were able to deliver this advanced technology at a reduced price point, thereby making the Digital DL more easily available to more young families."

Among the DL's many functions and benefits, are the ability to:

· View crystal clear images on its 2.4 inch high-resolution LCD screen

· Connect to a TV or DVR for viewing or recording with the DL's A/V output

· Connect to computer, smart device for Internet viewing via USB (optional software


· Enjoy private, secure and noise-free wireless performance

· Carry easily from room-to-room - compact portable design

· Use as wireless webcam, compatible with Skype, Windows Messenger & Google

· Plug & Play - no installation needed

· See 20 feet into total darkness with Automatic Night Vision

· View the cameras up to 300 ft. away

· See large areas with the DL's extra wide angle lens

· Expand to multi-area viewing by adding up to 3 more cameras

· Set the DL for voice-activated operation

· Select audio-only mode

· Power the system by AC, AA batteries or optional rechargeable battery set (not



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Bracketron Introduces New Protective Case for Apple® iPad® 2

Back-iT™ protects your iPad 2 from scratches, bumps and the hard knocks of everyday life.

Minneapolis, MN — Bracketron, the leading manufacturer in mounting solutions for mobile consumer electronics, today introduced the Back-iT – a low-profile, protective polycarbonate case for iPad 2. The lightweight, soft-touch shell is made from durable, high-impact plastic and is available in the same colors as the iPad Smart Cover.

"The iPad has transformed the way we work, play and interact with each other in our daily lives," said Mark Mandel, Executive Vice President. "The Back-iT offers a stylish solution that can be paired with the Smart Cover in the same matching colors, while offering complete protection for your iPad 2."

The Back-iT will soon be available at many leading consumer electronics retailers and on the Bracketron website at www.bracketron.com.

Today, Bracketron is the leading manufacturer and supplier of mounting solutions and accessories for GPS, satellite radio, cell phone, iPod/iPhone/iPad, PC and other mobile electronics. Our robust product line includes innovative mounting solutions for your car, home and office.

For more information about the company, visit www.bracketron.com or call 1.866.237.4443.


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AudioControl DQXS Six Channel Digital Crossover and Equalizer With Memory

When it comes to custom tailoring your sound in your car, a dedicated equalizer is the best way to do it. And if you ask around for who is the best when it comes to dedicated EQ's and digital processors, chances are the name that will keep coming up is AudioControl. Built right here in the good old USA in Washington State, up for review is the AudioControl DQXS. It is a digital electronic equalizer as well as electronic crossover.

It's key features include:

6 Channel 3-way Crossover
Six Input and Eight Channel Output
One-Third Octave and One-Half Octave Equalization Controls Per Channel
Two Parametric Equalizers Per Channel
142 Total Equalization Filters
Outputs for Front Highpass, Front Lowpass, Rear Highpass, and Subwoofer Outputs
24dB/Octave Linkwitz Riley Alignment Crossover Slopes
Eight User Programmable Memories
Utilizes an Audio Enhanced DSP
Output Level Controls
Input for Optional DDC (Digital Dash Control

Packaging was a tad on the plain side, not that it matters much. The AudioControl DQXS was very well packaged and secured inside the box. There was no way it was moving around. And a plastic bag helped to protect it's finish. Included inside was the owner's manual, which I have to give the guys at AudioControl not just some kudos for, but also a big two thumbs up. I have to say it is the first owners manual that was entertaining to read. I never thought I would see that happen! The AudioControl is a sophisticated piece of equipment that you will want to read up on if you are installing it and tuning it yourself. So the bit of comedy found in the manual did make reading it a fun experience. There is also an optional wired remote so that you can make changes easily from the driver's seat. Build quality was also really good, with gold plated connectors, and nice LED's. Fit and finish was very good.

The AudioControl DQXS is not a typical processor. Loaded would be an understatement. For the crossover section, it features six channels in and eight channels out. That means you have two pairs of out for the front channels, one pair out for the rear, and one pair out for the sub. That gives you low pass for the subwoofer with it's adjustable crossover points and high pass outputs for the rear, with it's crossover points. The front channel however actually has 2 outputs, one pair is high pass, and the 2nd pair is low pass or band pass.

This level of flexibility is more than most are used to. Typically coaxials are used for the rear channel, with no high pass crossovers. The AudioControl in this situation will give you better control so they won't try to play bass frequencies they can't handle. The front soundstage is commonly handled by a pair of component speakers, which will come with a passive crossover network to send the high frequencies to the tweeter and the low frequencies to the midrange driver. The front channel of the AudioControl DQXS however actually used a high pass and low pass or band pass. This means that your 2-way component system will no longer need the passive crossovers, if you have the correct amp configuration. The AudioControl DQXS will do the job, and with better sound quality since it is an active electronic crossover. the high pass will block low frequencies from getting to the tweeter. The low pass can also be used as a bandpass. Not only will it block the high frequencies that are above what the midrange can handle, it can also block out the lower frequencies that are too low for it to handle.

The subwoofer channel is also not forgotten. It's low pass filter makes sure your subwoofers only get the bass that they are craving. The -24 db slope is also nice and steep so you know what you want to hear from your speakers will be what you will get. There is also a system low frequency, that will block out frequencies too low for your system to handle, and protect your subs.

The electronic crossover is only part of the story. The AudioControl DQXS also has a phenomenal electronic digital equalizer. Overkill again comes to mind, but in a very good way. It is not a 2 channel EQ. It is in actuality a 6 channel EQ. This means you have separate EQ control of the front channels, rear channels, and subwoofer. This gives you separate control of the EQ curves for the front channel, rear channel, as well as the sub. But it does not stop there. I did say it was a 6 channel EQ. Because of that, you can actually have separate EQ curves for the front right, front left, rear right, and rear left channels!! Just to give you a better idea of the level of control the AudioControl will give you, the subwoofer actually has 15 bands of EQ control! The front channel has 30 bands, and the rear channel has 19 bands. All said and done, you have a total of 142 filters at your disposal, and each one can be adjusted from -12 to +12 db boost.

Using the AudioControl DQXS was everything I had hoped it would be...stellar! The sound engineering I was able to do was great. I tend to listen to my music a bit on the loud side at times. And driving the tuning and listening part of the review, I realized that one of my front midbass drivers was partially blown. It had recently happened, and was only in the lower bass frequencies, so a simple adjustment to the crossover for the front channels, and the resonating of the blown driver is gone. I was very pleased, as I was able to listen to my music until I got the replacement driver. Otherwise listening to the blown driver would have driven me nuts! The sound quality was very clean and distortion free, thanks in part to the audiophile grade components. And the sound that I got from making the plethora of allowable sound adjustments was nothing short of delicious! If you want to unleash the true potential of your sound system, the AudioControl DQXS will help you get there. And while you can make the adjustments on the EQ, it would be more convenient to use the optional DCC wired remote so you can make the necessary adjustments from the driver's seat. As it was not included with the review unit, I managed without it. But in doing so, I easily saw the benefit and convenience of having it, and would highly recommend getting it as well.

I must admit, that with the reputation of AudioControl for their components, I was not surprised by their amazing performance. the AudioControl DQXS with a MSRP of $599 is not cheap, but it is a good example of you get what you pay for. The guys at AudioControl in the rainy state of Washington know their stuff when it comes to audio processors. If good sound is important to you, you owe it to yourself to check out the AudioControl DQXS. Based on it's features, design, build quality, and performance, it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. Kudos to them! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at http://www.audiocontrol.com/. Reference gear included Kenwood KDC-X991 receiver, Vibe Audio Space 6 3D components, Alpine SPX-13PRO components, two Diamond Audio 12" D6 subwoofers, and Vibe Audio LiteBox Stereo 4 and Vibe Audio BlackDeath Bass 1 amps.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kingston Digital Adds 32GB Class 10 microSDHC Card

Higher Capacity Matches Growing Smartphone, Tablet PC Use

Fountain Valley, CA -- May 23, 2011 -- Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced it is shipping a 32GB Class 10 microSDHC card, adding to its family of 4GB, 8GB and 16GB Class 10 cards. The Kingston® 32GB Class 10 microSDHC card is perfect for users with substantial memory and performance needs.

Kingston’s Class 10 microSDHC cards are compatible with many of the latest smartphones, hi-def cameras and popular tablet PCs. The Class 10 cards have a fast minimum data transfer rate of 10MB/s and when combined with an optional adapter, can be used as a full-size SDHC card. The cards come as a standalone, with an SD adapter or as a Mobility Kit which includes the card, SD adapter and USB card reader.

Kingston microSDHC cards are backed by a lifetime warranty and 24/7 live technical support. For more information visit www.kingston.com.

Kingston microSDHC Class 10 Features and Specifications:

· Compliant: with the SD Card Association specification

· Versatile: when combined with the adapter, it can be used as a full-size SDHC card

· Compatible: with microSDHC host devices; not compatible with standard microSD-enabled device/readers

· File Format: FAT32

· Reliable: lifetime warranty

· Capacities*: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB

· Dimensions: 0.43" x 0.59" x 0.039" (11mm x 15mm x 1mm)

· Speed: Class 10 – 10 MB/s guaranteed minimum data transfer rate

· Operating Temperature: -13°F to 185°F (-25°C to 85°C)

· Storage Temperature: -40°F to 185° (-40°C to 85°C)

· Weight: .1 oz. (2.7g)

*Some of the listed capacity is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. For more information, please consult Kingston's Flash Memory Guide at Kingston.com/Flash_Memory_Guide.

Kingston Class 10 microSDHC Cards

Part Number
Capacity and Features
MSRP (U.S. only)

32GB microSDHC Class 10 Mobility Kit (card + SD Adapter + USB card reader)
$ 157.00

32GB microSDHC Class 10 (card + SD Adaptor)
$ 154.00

32GB microSDHC Class 10 (card only)
$ 153.00

16GB microSDHC Class 10 Mobility Kit (card + SD Adapter + USB card reader)
$ 99.00

16GB microSDHC Class 10 (card + SD Adapter)
$ 96.00

16GB microSDHC Class 10 (card only)
$ 95.00

8GB microSDHC Class 10 Mobility Kit (card + SD Adapter + USB card reader)
$ 38.00

8GB microSDHC Class 10 (card + SD Adapter)
$ 35.00

8GB microSDHC Class 10 (card only)
$ 34.00

4GB microSDHC Class 10 Mobility Kit (card + SD Adapter + USB card reader)
$ 26.00

4GB microSDHC Class 10 (card + SD Adapter)
$ 22.00

4GB microSDHC Class 10 (card only)
$ 21.00

About Kingston Digital, Inc.

Kingston Digital, Inc. ("KDI") is the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the world's largest independent manufacturer of memory products. Established in 2008, KDI is headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, USA. For more information, please visit www.kingston.com or call 800-337-8410.

Editor's Note: For additional information, evaluation units or executive interviews, please contact David Leong, Kingston Digital, Inc. 17600 Newhope Street, Fountain Valley, Calif. 92708, 714-438-1817 (Voice). Press images can be found in Kingston's press room at www.kingston.com/press/default.asp

# # #

Kingston and the Kingston logo are registered trademarks of Kingston Technology Corporation. All rights reserved. All other marks may be the property of their respective titleholders.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

ASUS BW-12B1LT 12x Blu-ray Writer Review by Mike Fackrell

Ok first off let me just say it’s about time … for what you ask? Well an optical drive that looks a little different than what we have come to expect for the last 20+ years! ASUS has taken it to the next level with the BW-12B1LT, a sweet looking, well performing drive. The first thing you noticed when you pick up this drive is the very unique beveled front bezel and it’s sleek and angular appearance. It is the kind of look that makes you proud to be a PC owner and you get that “wow that’s cool … I want one” experience when you first see it. What you don’t miss is the lack of the unsightly “stamps” we typically see on our optical drives (DVD, RW, Compact Disk … etc) This one only had the ASUS logo and a Blu-ray indicator both tastefully done and not too obnoxious. The drive is well built and the tray is not weak or overly fragile. The drive activity light is very subtle and well placed although it can be hard to see at times, but after thinking about it, I realized I liked it much better than the bright obnoxious LED you would typically see on a drive.


First off this baby is fast! It clocks in at 12x and in fact it is ahead of it’s time because you can’t even find 12x rated blu-ray disks yet, however as you will see below the readily available 6x BD media will burn at 12x speeds. This drive will handle just about anything you throw at it. Many different optical formats are supported including your typical DVD formats as well as CD and DVD-RAM (some older camcorders used this format) in both read and write capabilities (for complete read/write list see chart below). Blu-Ray playback is excellent with the included Cyberlink PowerDVD 9 player. The drive is Blu-ray 3D capable and even has a feature that will convert your standard DVD disks to a psudo 3D movie. It is not true 3D but it does add “visual depth” to the picture and it does it in real time! The BW-12B1LT supports DVD up-scaling and enhancement so your DVD library will play better than ever. Audio quality is excellent and supports Dolby Digital EX and DT5 HD. (5.1 channels). Another nice feature is the Optimal Tuning Strategy (OTS) technology. This allows the drive to perform an actual mini burn test prior to disk creation allowing it to identify and compensate for current media and drive conditions as well as operating temperatures, which can effect the quality of the burn. When you start to get into the expensive Blu-ray media this feature will come in handy and will make sure everything is set up just right before you start a burn. To top it all off the BW-12B1LT is Lightscribe capable so with the appropriate media you can just flip the disk over and you can easily and quickly burn an image right onto the disks, no need for a label or those “hard to find when you need them” permanent markers (which aren’t good for your disks anyway!).


While it is probably the best looking optical drive out on the market today you must remember that most case designers have already dealt with the standard boring plane ol’ ROM, so they have designed cases with better looking drive doors that interface with the existing optical drive making our computers look better. Consequently if you are putting this in to an existing case you might opt to remove that door (as I did) and just let the ASUS drive stand on it’s own. If you are not be able to do that with your particular case configuration the unique angular protruding shape of the BW-12B1LT face plate may interfere with the mechanical operation of those case doors. You should be able to adjust how far the drive will stick out on your case but if you can’t the problem is easily remedied by removing the face plate on the drive. You will no longer have that great ASUS look but it will work with your case.

Software install went fairly easily with no major hang ups, the included software from Cyberlink works well and is very easy to use. Keep in mind that with Blu-ray playback certain hardware / software requirements must be met. For example Windows XP 64bit does not support Blu-ray playback and with 32bit XP you must be running SP3. You will also need a compatible video card and a digital display for playing back protected content. Most newer systems will meet these requirements and this would include most computers that can run Windows Vista and Windows 7. Cyberlink has a program (BD Advisor) that you can download that will let you know if your system is Blu-ray capable including detecting support for the newer 3D playback options.

Burn Tests:

The drive performed very well in all the different burns that I did and I did not produce a single coaster! Max burn speeds were as advertised even with slower rated media. The drive performed well with Cyberlink Power2Go, Adobe Encore, ProShow Producer, Nero, Roxio and Windows DVD maker. I am still amazed at how quiet the drive is during burns and at times I was wondering if it was even running. It performed well with all types of media from the 4x Kodak BD-R to the 6x Panasonic BD-R. It will also handle the newer dual layer Blu-ray disks (BD-R DL) that will hold almost 50GB of data (46.6GB) and it only took about 45 minutes to fill one of those up but at over $7.00 per disk you are very careful when you start one of those projects. On the included software from Cyberlink Power2Go, it will only let you burn at the disk rated speeds and there is also a check box for “enable defect management” that will also understandably slow the burn process down so be mindful of that if you end up using that software.

DVD and CD burning went flawlessly as well. I did notice that it does not support DVD-RW DL disks but no big deal here on a Blu-ray drive if you need that type of capability the Blu-ray RE disks would be the way to go.

Well for less than $120.00 you can have a great drive that performs very well and looks great to boot! It supports all of the popular formats as well as some of the not so popular ones and handles them all very well. This drive is great for watching Blu-ray movies in 2D and 3D and works very well with your DVD’s that you already have … in fact it makes them look even better. It’s data capabilities are just as strong and fast and will easily handle any type of backup or archiving project you may have. I really could not find much of anything wrong with this drive. Just make sure you have the hardware necessary to use all of the features this drive can offer and be prepared to make some slight modifications to the drive or case that you are putting it in to make it will fit and operate correctly.

Great job ASUS! Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. If you are looking for an optical drive, the Asus BW-12B1LT is a great choice. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.asus.com.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Xi3 Corporation Announces Its ChromiumPC Modular Computer - the World's First Desktop Computer Running Google's Chrome Operating System

Based upon the patented Xi3 Computer Architecture, the ChromiumPC computer is a cube-like, small form factor, low-power (20Watts) dual-core modular computer that can be adapted to run other operating systems or to perform specialized functions. Xi3 Corp. has been developing the ChromiumPC since 2009. Pricing will be disclosed later this year, with General Availability expected in the second half of 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY--Xi3® Corporation today announced its ChromiumPC™ modular computer, the world's first desktop computer designed to run Google's Chrome operating system.

First disclosed by Xi3 Corp. in 2009, the ChromiumPC is a version of the company's Xi3 Modular Computer™ which was formally unveiled in 2010 and named by the Consumer Electronics Association as an Innovations Award Winner in the Computer Hardware category for the 2011 International CES trade show.

"The Xi3 Computer Architecture is designed to support any x86-based operating system, including Windows, Linux, Unix, and other open source-based operating systems," said Jason A. Sullivan, president and CEO of Xi3 Corp. "Although we've been promoting, discussing and working on modular computers for some time, we feel the market is now ready for a desktop computer with a cloud-based operating system like the one offered by Google. If someone chooses to switch their ChromiumPC to run a different operating system, it's as easy as swapping out one of the three boards inside the computer.

"Historically, the vast majority of operating systems have been installed and run locally on computers. But as technology has advanced and people have become more and more comfortable with using Web-based applications and storing data away from their computer, specifically 'in the cloud,' it only makes sense that operating systems will become cloud-based. In fact, we expect that over time we'll see many operating systems that are wire-bound and require the computer to be connected to the Internet to run, and we will likely support these new operating systems as well."

Modularity Explained for the ChromiumPC and Xi3 Modular Computer

Each Xi3 Modular Computer, including the ChromiumPC, is housed in an aluminum chassis that holds three small but interconnected boards (or modules), namely
The Processor Module™,
The Primary I/O Module™, and
The Secondary I/O Module™.
Taken in concert these three modules form the basis of what has been the classic motherboard, with the Processor Module housing the microprocessor and RAM, the Primary I/O Module typically housing the majority of the external communications ports, and the Secondary I/O Module typically housing Ethernet, video and power connections.

Unlike traditional computers, however, the Xi3 Computer Architecture makes it possible to change the so-called personality and/or functionality of an Xi3 Modular Computer, including the ChromiumPC. This is done in eight easy steps:

Power down and disconnect the Modular Computer from all external connections
Remove the four screws from one of the honeycomb-shaped and chrome-plated sideplates
Remove the sideplate from the Modular Computer chassis
Slide the three interconnected modules out of the chassis
Remove one of the I/O Modules and replace it with a new I/O Module
Reinsert the three interconnected modules back inside the chassis
Reattach the sideplate to the chassis
Reconnect all external connections and power-up the Modular Computer
"Based upon feedback and interest from our initial proof-of-concept and evaluation customers, we have already begun developing new Primary and Secondary I/O Modules," Sullivan explained. "We also have partners beginning to develop their own proprietary I/O Modules as well. We expect to have the first of our new I/O Modules available during this summer, each of which will work with the ChromiumPC, as well as Xi3 Modular Computers that run other operating systems."

The ChromiumPC will be powered by a dual- or single-core 64-bit, x86-based processor, housed in a chassis measuring 4.0- x 3.656- x 3.656-inches and available in multiple colors, including a chrome-plated chassis. ChromiumPC pricing will be announced later this year, with additional specifications announced at that time. General availability for the ChromiumPC is expected in the second half of 2011.

General Availability of the Xi3 Modular Computer Slated for the 4th of July

"Given today's announcement about our plans for the ChromiumPC, we felt it important to also let our friends know that formal sales of the Xi3 Modular Computer will begin on July 4, 2011," Sullivan said. "Since the Xi3 Computer Architecture allows owners of the Xi3 Modular Computer to declare their independence from the built-in obsolescence of other computers, we felt that American Independence Day would be a great day to begin selling the 5 Series model of the Xi3 Modular Computer."

More details about the General Availability of the Xi3 Modular Computer (5 Series model) will be available before the 4th of July.

About Xi3 Corporation

Formed in 2010 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Xi3 Corporation has brought a new type of computing to the world - modular computing - initially in the form of the Xi3 Modular Computer. For more information on Xi3 Corporation (an ISYS TechnologiesSM company), please visit www.Xi3.com.

About ISYS Technologies, Inc.

Formed in 2002 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, ISYS Technologies is an intellectual property management company.

The shape of the three-sided single piece casing, the end plate, and the overall shape of the Xi3 Modular Computer, as well as Xi3, ChromiumPC, Modular, Xi3 Modular, Processor Module, Primary I/O Module, and Secondary I/O Module are trademarks and unique trade dress of ISYS Technologies, Inc. ISYS and ISYS Technologies are service marks of ISYS Technologies, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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