GIGABYTE Radeon HD 4670 Review

>I was looking to replace my old ATI 2400HD card, criteria was something cheap, a big improvement, which wouldn’t have been hard and preference to not requiring a new PSU.

The card I got was the Gigabyte Radeon HD 4670 512MB GDDR3 from New Egg.

It’s certainly not the most sexiest of graphics cards, but it hit all the points I was looking for for under $50, can’t complain about that.

Some rambling thoughts about the card, starting with the good points-

Price, can’t beat the value for money
Spec, great features, could have done with more memory compared to other cards but it has gddr3 which can’t be sniffed at either
Size, it’s a fairly small card and only takes up one slot unlike many, but barely
Power consumption, it really does run well on a 300/350W supply, without needed an extra power connection
Sound, it’s very quiet, marginal increase to the old one but hardly noticeable really

Cons about the card-

Would be nice if the fan was idle until it was needed, would make it silent during regular use
Box content, I’ve seen OEM packages include more this, no cables, screws, connection converters or anything, not that I needed them
Manual is a bit generic and rubbish and the drivers on the CD are a little out of date
Connections, HDMI is a little close to the DVI socket so could be a problem for some

Over all, this is a great little card, nice Windows Review increase by a couple of points, games certainly look a lot more impressive and very easy to install and get going and it’s CrossfireX ready for those who want to join up a couple of cards though you’ll need to get your own bridge connectors.

Logitech MX Revolution Mouse Review

>Well after years of service, my old MX1000 Logitech finally died.

The replacement, a MX Revolution.

At $100, it is pricey, but figuring how much time spent on the computer it was money well worth spending.

The construction is very good, the mouse looks nice, has a good weight to it and feels nice. The ergonomics make it very comfy in the hand and the buttons are right there at your finger tips as well as having a nice feed back when you press them.

One of the unique selling points was the fast scrolling wheel which does feel a little surreal but quickly becomes appreciated. It allows you to free scroll at speed for those long documents but intuitively applies a break that slows the wheel down for that click, click type of scroll depending on the application. So far this has worked really well.

The mouse software does allow you to customise the mouse well and one recommendation was using the thumb rocker button as a volume control instead of the default of scrolling back and forth between apps, which is currently what I have left it at. The downside to the software, which you do need to install other wise the middle mouse button click doesn’t work, is that it is 58mb and took me a half hour to install, seriously, wtf?

The battery life is very good and the charger is nice and small, certainly compared to the old mouse and more importantly, it doesn’t need to be plugged into the back of the computer as there is a small usb receiver for the wireless aspect. This works fabulously well, I was able to use the mouse across the room with out any problems. There also isn’t a need to select a channel, search for the mouse or anything that potentially was a hassle with my old mouse, just plugged it in and it worked.

To summerise, this is a great mouse for someone who sits at a computer a lot, very easy to use and set up but the software install really needs to be streamlined and you better be right handed.

Because of that, I’ll give it 4/5

Indie Handheld Gaming?

Just looking at the GP2X Wix – At $180 it’s not a bad priced open source handheld gaming machine, touch screen and what is basically a dual d-pad set up, this could lead to some interesting projects.

There is also the Pandora, which does look promising, but far to clunky I think to take off.

Another alternative is the Dingoo A-320 but this looks even less appealing as a device.

Ultimately, this is a great arena for home game makers to get some easy exposure, release something fun that’ll get you possibly noticed, it will even play flash games as well as be a emulator so you can get some of those old home brew projects you wanted to make out there on this platform. The makers are also launching a digital online store similar to Apple’s, which would allow you to sell your creations if you didn’t want them released as freeware, which could be a nice bonus feature for anyone who might have released a game on any other platform.

3D Stimulus Day

>The Digital Northeastern Artist group as part of Great Eastern Technology held a day long art event today called “3D Stimulus Day” at the Ida Mount College in Newton, MA. The host of the event was Brad Porter.

The free event had talks about success in animation, which was more of a selling event for the person giving the talk of her books and the classes she taught and wasn’t that useful for many there.

Intro to 3DSM Mental Ray Rendering was next, this was about architectural rendering and covered the basics to global illumination and final gather and was pretty informative and the talk was very amusing, given by Ted Boardman, who has a good blog which has many tutorials and good information here. It was also a chance to see 3DSM 2010, which had a new user interface which is a bit different to previous versions though how good that is I didn’t get to see. The main things of note were the simplifying of Mental Ray for the basic features and how quick it was to get them working to make good quality renders and yet still have all the tweaks you would expect. Also the new Quadify modifier looked pretty nifty too, which as it suggests, quadlifies your model rather than the tessalate feature.

Elliott Mitchell did a talk about realistic Mental Ray Skin Shaders in Maya, showing off Maya 2009, which had a few issues of stability, but compared to 2008 and below seemed to have simplified the whole process of creating shaders that work by automating the setting up of them, though there was still a lot of tweaking and rendering to get a good result.

Gael McDill of Digizyme Inc, talked about molecular and cell visualisation in Maya. This was very interesting showing how they are able to use custom scripts using Python to help them make tools as well as using cloth and hair adapted to show cell interactions. Molecularmovies.org was a really good resource they created to share the knowledge of what they do and includes a lot of videos and tutorials that can be applied to many aspects of art and animation.

Michele Bousquet, from Turbosquid talked about how you can maximise your sales and make money from using the service. Most of the things were comon sense such as providing good quality thumbnails and a good description of your work and what is included in the sale as well as how to best price your work by comparing to other works on the subject and looking through the highest priced pieces to gauge your price point.

Following this talk was a raffle of goods from the vendors who sponsored the event, the highlights included a new Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, a licensed copy of ZBrush 3 and one upgrade. All these things were being demoed during the breaks and especially the lunch break as well as a 3D scanner.

The last part of the day was a SIGGRAPH animation festival screening.

TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter – Update

>An update to the original review of the TEW 424UB Wireless USB Adapter –

They released a new driver on the 16th of December 2008 –here

This driver seems to have fixed the device from BSOD’ing your system, especially when you lose a network connection, it is able to reconnect without needing a restart or causing a BSOD. Also doesn’t seem to lose a network connection as often either, so a much needed driver update makes this a very solid and cheap wireless network adapter.

Seagate Barracuda 1TB Hard drive review

>The Seagate ST31000340AS 1TB Barracuda

A sata 7200rpm drive with 32MB cache and 8.5ms seek time and a 5 year warranty.

It’s a great drive, really quick and also very quiet which is lovely. This being an OEM box, you don’t get any screws or any cables nor instructions though which probably isn’t a problem for most people. Do jot down the serial number before installing it though as it’s a mare to get to other wise and you’ll need it for the warranty.

Amazon ship it in one of those “Ready to Ship” boxes, which means the box they send it to you in is the box of the product.

Smartparts 7" Digital Picture Frame Review

>7″ Digital Picture Frame from Smartparts

Digital frames these days are very popular, they are everywhere, but stores usually only have the larger brands, but there are bargains to be found. This would be a pretty good buy for the lower end of price range and it works really well if you were to place it on a desk.

The pluses to this
Good price point.
Picture quality is very good and sharp, not as great as the more costly units but still very good.
Has an internal storage of 128MB, which is good to get you going and also if you give this as a present to put your photo’s on there before wrapping it up.
It doesn’t use much power and you can set the times for it to come on and off.
The frame is a nice wood and feels sturdy, it’s a great looking digital frame.
Many slideshow options.
This can read the high capacity SD cards and MicroSD cards used in an SD adapter, so you can have more than 2GB cards.
Can be wall mounted or the stand can place it landscape of portrait.
The power adapter has a small foot print.

The cons to this –
There’s no internal battery, so you do need it plugged in at all times to work.
The frame doesn’t auto rotate if you set it to portrait, so the pictures unless you’ve set them as landscape will be shrunken to fit in landscape and be slightly cropped, though it does do this well if your running a slideshow of pictures, using the PC software should correct this for you though.
There’s no USB slot for a thumb drive.
Memory slot is a bit close to the edge of the device and no easy way to remove the cards once they are slotted in.
The control buttons are on the real, are small, feel cheap and aren’t all that intuitive to use as they are in reverse to what you see on the screen.
There’s no remote control, this isn’t a big thing though.
There’s no option to load photo’s in a random order, it goes through them in alphabetical order, you also can’t display both internal memory images and images on a memory card, it’s one or the other.
The power cable gets in the way if you placed this in the middle of a coffee table, or on a window sill, so having it at the back of a table/desk is really the only good place to keep this.
You can’t change the frame style like you can, though this isn’t a bad thing for me personally.

Over all – This is a great little gift, it’s a nice size and very simple to use. You don’t need to use the computer, just stick a memory card in and your good. The software is basic if you do plug the frame into your computer, but it does the trick, optimises the images down to size to save space and sets orientation if needed as well as saying if a photo isn’t a good option for the frame such as the resolution or the size. It’ll then transfer the images onto the frame for you.

Wireless Router – Netgear

>Having tried many and having a functional, but rubbish speeds from a Belkin, which was replaced by a D-Link, which worked pretty well until it died, just after the warranty expired.

With lots of research into various routers out there, and of the various firmware hacks available that offer more features, such as the DD-WRT firmware hack, good instructions here.

In the end, I got the Netgear WRN2000 because Netgear came highly recommended, also it was at a good price and had loads of features.

So far it has worked a treat and was really easy to set up and keep up to date. The only cons to it, you can’t change the user name for the settings, the password and all other fields are easy though. There’s no wall mount which is a shame and there’s no 1000gigabit feature which comes on other models. The blue glow can be a bit over powering too if it’s in your bedroom, but the power button is a nice touch in the event you want to turn it off or have to do a reset, which I’ve not had to use so far.

TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter

>TrendNet TEW 424UB Wireless USB adapter.

I’ve had mine for a while now, a bargin at $20 a while ago, seems to be found for between $15-25 these days.

It has a few flaws that people complain about, mostly relating to it over heating which causes it to do a memory dump and blue screen your computer, especially noticeable with Windows Vista for some reason, even using the latest Trendnet drivers, or using the Realtek generic drivers, no difference.

I had this problem happen to me a fair bit, but I discovered it is easily fixed. It comes with what appears to be a useless extension that the device plugs into and which then goes into a usb port, this puts the device about 5 inches further out. Bending this flexible extension into a “L” shape allows the device to free stand in the air, away from any surface. This has kept it cool, and I’ve not had a crash with it since doing this.

It doesn’t like being plugged into the back of the desktop if there isn’t any air flow, nor does it like resting against the desk if plugged into a USB hub, which was how I had it set up, but now free standing in the air, it’s golden.

The speed of the device is consistently good. The software included with it is basic, but it works, and you really don’t need it with Windows anyway. Certainly very easy to connect and get working.

I’d recommend it as certainly good value for money if you need a simple wireless connection for your desktop/laptop.