Category Archives: Gadget Review

Tesla inks landmark deal with Panasonic to build Gigafactory on US soil

Tesla has signed a deal with electronics maker Panasonic to build a massive battery production plant in the US. The Gigafactory, as it’s being dubbed, will be a crucial step in the production of Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 which is slated to arrive sometime in 2017.

As per the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities for the Gigafactory. Panasonic, meanwhile, will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval.

A network of suppliers will be in place to ensure the facility has access to production materials at all times.

The facility, which will require an investment of up to $ 5 billion, is expected to create some 6,500 new jobs. It’ll produce 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of packs per year by 2020 but in the interim, Tesla will continue to purchase batteries from Panasonic’s factories in Japan for current and existing vehicles like the Model X.

Naturally, a number of states are vying for the bid with finalists including Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. No word yet on when Tesla will decide where to build the Gigafactory.

The upcoming Model 3 is likely to be the vehicle that puts Tesla on the map. At $ 35,000, it’ll be the first electric vehicle from Tesla that’ll be affordable to the masses. The current Model S sells for around $ 70,000 or more.

TechSpot

Eurocom Racer (Clevo P150HM)

The Eurocom Racer (Clevo P150HM) include a 15.6-inch screen, Intel Core i7-2960XM Extreme Edition processor and AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6990M 2GB DDR5 graphics card.

  • 15.6-inch (1920×1080) FHD 95% Gamut matte display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-2960XM Extreme Edition processor (2.7GHz, 8MB L3 cache)
  • AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6990M 2GB DDR5 graphics card
  • 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Kingston HyperX PnP RAM
  • 128GB MLC SSD (Micron C300, SATA-600)
  • 802.11b/g/n Bigfoot Killer-1103 wireless
  • 8X DVD Super Multi drive
  • One year limited warranty with 1 year tech support
  • Weight: 6.82 pounds (3.1kg)
  • Dimensions: 15.04 x 10.24 x 1.4-1.72 inches

NotebookReview.com

Amazon offers Prime members a $1 video credit to choose slower shipping

Amazon Prime’s bread and butter is without a doubt its free two-day and cheap overnight shipping options. But what if you’re ordering something and you have little desire to get it ASAP? Up to this point, there’s really been no reason not to use the free two-day option over standard shipping but that’s no longer the case.

The online e-commerce giant has launched a new promotion in which they’ll give you a $ 1 Amazon Instant Video credit if you select the new free, no-rush shipping option during checkout.

As the name suggests, the new option is indeed slow. A quick check just now shows an estimated delivery date of late next week at the earliest for a product ordered today whereas the item would arrive on Monday with standard shipping, Friday with free two-day shipping and tomorrow for a small additional fee.

The offer likely won’t be enough of an incentive in the event you need or want your purchase right away – after all, that’s what Prime is for, right? I’m as impatient as anyone when it comes to delivery but there are some scenarios I can think of where such an offer would be worth it.

Amazon points out that this is a limited time offer. It’s also worth noting that the credit is only valid through October 31 although that date may be extended depending on when you place an order.

TechSpot

INHON CarbonBook

The INHON CarbonBook features an Intel Core i5 -3337U processor, a 128 GB SSD, Intel HD 4000 graphics and an 11.6-inch display.

  • OS: Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 -3337U
  • MEMORY: 4 GB DDR3 1600
  • SCREEN: 11.6” Display (1366 x 768)
  • GRAPHICS: Intel HD 4000
  • STORAGE: 128 GB SSD (M.2 PCIe)
  • DIMENSIONS: W 298mm x D 194mm x H 16mm
  • WEIGHT: 970g
  • WEBCAM: 720P HD
  • BATTERY: 35 Wh
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0

NotebookReview.com

MEDION Akoya S4216

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Aldi / Medion Akoya S4216 (MD99080) Test

Medion Akoya S4216 (MD98080)

Medion Akoya S4216 (MD98080)

Medion Akoya S4216 (MD98080)

Medion Akoya S4216 (MD98080)

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Medion Akoya E2312 HD Preview Medion Akoya S10 Nettop Teaser Medion


Facebook to shut down Gifts service next month in wake of shifting e-commerce strategy

Facebook will soon have one less weapon in its quest to find additional revenue streams as the social networking giant will shut down Gifts on August 12. You win some, you lose some.

Zuckerberg and company introduced Facebook Gifts in September 2012. The service allowed users to purchase and send real-life gifts to other Facebook users either through notifications (send a birthday gift, for example) or simply by visiting someone’s Timeline.

Less than a year later in August of 2013, Facebook announced plans to purge physical merchandise from the online gift store. Instead, they wanted to focus on digital gift codes and the like.

Given the company’s current e-commerce strategy, however, the service is more or less a conflict of interest. Their official statement to TechCrunch was that they’ll be using everything they learned from Gifts to explore new ways to help businesses and developers drive sales on the web, on mobile and directly on Facebook.

Most probably saw this move coming, especially in the wake of the new Buy button. Launched just over a week ago, the service allows users to buy products from ads and News Feed Pages without having to leave Facebook.

New strategies aside, the shutdown of Gifts also likely tells us that the service wasn’t making much money and didn’t warrant any further investment in terms of time and money. Facebook noted that no layoffs will occur as most of the Gifts team has already been assigned to other projects.

TechSpot

Alienware-17-2014-back-300x199

Alienware 17 Review (2014 Edition)

The Alienware 17 is mostly unchanged since last year which isn’t a bad thing; it keeps the stealthy design, great build quality, AlienFX customizable lighting system and excellent gaming performance we praised it for previously. This iteration adds AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 M290X graphics card to the stable, which goes head to head with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 860M and 870M offerings. The GTX 880M still rules the roost in raw graphics muscle, but AMD’s offering comes at a significantly lower price point.

Build and Design

Alienware 17 (2014) backAlienware notebooks make a strong statement when it comes to design; this is a package deal. Its stealth-like exterior has subtle but noticeable angles that create a futuristic appearance. There’s no hiding this notebook’s bulk, however; the Alienware 17 is nearly 10 pounds and just under two inches thick; a typical non-performance oriented 17.3″ notebook is about two-thirds the weight and thickness.

The AlienFX LED lighting system is user-customizable with multiple different lighting zones; the lid has two, the keyboard has four, the touchpad is one, the Alienware logo below is another the display and the final one is the strip around the chassis. Each zone can be set to a different color, to morph between two colors or be turned completely off. The AlienFX system can be completely turned off by pressing the [Fn] and [F12] keys simultaneously, a good idea while on battery to preserve power. Alienware debuted the AlienFX system in 2009 with the original Alienware m17x and we’ve been a fan of it ever since; it’s truly unique and keeps the ownership experience exciting.

Alienware 17 (2014) frontThe Alienware 17′s build materials consist of mostly plastic with touches of aluminum; the latter is found below the display hinge and comprises the entire back of the display. The display is impressively rigid and resists both flexing and twisting very well for its size. A strong lid design is important for protecting the display panel, especially if the notebook will see travel. The display’s hinge is stiff to the point where two hands are required to open the lid, but still operates very smoothly. The rest of the chassis is similarly rock solid; it’s nearly immune to flex and no part of the chassis surface gives way when applying pressure.

We like the soft-touch rubberized chassis surfaces; these conceal fingerprints and wear better over time than traditional plastic. Fit and finish is overall good with clean and consistent gaps between parts.

The Alienware 17 is user-upgradeable friendly, thanks to the large removable panel on the chassis bottom. This panel provides access to the memory modules (there are four total slots, all of which are occupied in our review unit’s 16GB configuration; 4x 4GB), both internal storage drives and the wireless card.

Input and Output Ports

The Alienware 17′s bulk allows it to include a multitude of ports including HDMI in and out, mini-DisplayPort, two headphone jacks and four USB 3.0 ports. All picture descriptions are left to right.

Alienware 17 (2014) ports left
Left: AC power jack, Kensington lock slot, HDMI in/out, mini-DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 2x headphone jack

Alienware 17 (2014) ports right
Right: media card reader (top), slot-load optical drive (bottom), 2x USB 3.0, Ethernet

Screen and Speakers

Two resolutions are available on the Alienware 17: 1600×900 is standard and the higher 1920×1080 on our review unit is optional. Although it’s a TN-type panel, this display offers superb image quality. It has ample brightness and excellent contrast; black levels are strong. Color reproduction is very good with no lack of saturation without becoming excessive. The anti-glare display surface is welcomed; it produces no reflections in well-lit areas like displays with glossy surfaces. Viewing angles are vertically limited; the best image quality is found looking head on. Horizontal viewing angles are satisfactory with minimal shifts in color and brightness.

Alienware 17 (2014) screen sideAlienware 17 (2014) screen front
Alienware 17 (2014) screen backAlienware 17 (2014) screen forward

The 1920×1080 resolution is the highest offered on any 17.3″ notebook and is well worth the upgrade over the standard 1600×900 panel. Doing the math, 1920×1080 has 140% of the pixels and as a result displays a much finer level of detail in games, videos, and pictures. It’s also superior for productivity; you can easily use two windows side by side and won’t have to scroll as much in web pages and documents to see content.

The Alienware 17′s built-in Klipsch stereo speakers are located below the palm rest. These are a significant upgrade over standard notebook speakers with full sound and noticeable bass. They deliver sufficient volume to entertain a couple of people. It’s hard to expect more from a notebook. Remember, you can also get sound out of the Alienware 17 via its two static-free headphone jacks, HDMI, or mini-DisplayPort.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Alienware 17 (2014) keyboardThe Alienware 17′s full-size keyboard includes a separate numeric keypad and is backlit in a combination of any four colors you want. That’s right; the keyboard is split into four distinct lighting zones as part of the AlienFX LED lighting system. In addition to being able to change color, the zones can be set to pulse or morph between two colors. Other notebooks we’ve tested over the past several months have started offering different color keyboard backlighting, but none were as comprehensive as Alienware’s AlienFX solution.

We enjoy the Alienware 17′s typing experience. The keys have plenty of travel for good tactile response. The feel is cushioned and a bit rubbery but pleasant and quiet. There is no keyboard flex. The keyboard has a relatively standard layout with all of the expected keys. There are four additional user-programmable keys above the numeric keypad, which gamers will likely find useful (especially for MMO games). We like the rubberized surface on the keys because it hides fingerprints and should wear well over time.

Alienware 17 (2014) touchpadThe touchpad is properly sized for a 17.3-inch display and sits centered below the keyboard. It’s also an AlienFX lighting zone and can be changed to any color. We’re pleased that this is a traditional touchpad with two physical buttons as opposed to a clickpad where you press down anywhere to produce a click. This setup provides more reliable tactile feedback; the buttons provide a cushioned response with almost no noise. The touchpad’s anti-glare surface is easy to accurately track across.

NotebookReview.com

Microsoft now accepting pre-orders for Sharks Cove development board

Arduino, Raspberry Pi and similar hobby boards have proven incredibly successful among enthusiasts and educational institutions which is why Intel and Microsoft have joined forces to create a board of their own.

The two technology powerhouses collaborated with hardware maker CircuitCo (think MinnowBoard and BeagleBone Black) on a board called Sharks Cove. The board, compatible with both Android and Windows, is powered by an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor clocked at 1.33GHz (up to 1.88GHz) with integrated graphics alongside 1GB of DDR3 memory and 16GB of onboard flash storage.

There’s also a microSD card slot for expanded storage, HDMI, a MIPI connector, USB 2.0 and a micro-USB port for power. Ethernet and Wi-Fi are both missing so you’ll need to add those yourself via USB if you desire.

While Microsoft’s new board may be competitive in terms of performance, the same can’t be said with regard to price. At $ 300 (which includes the hardware, a Windows 8.1 image and other utilities), it’s far more expensive than the $ 35 Raspberry Pi B+.

Microsoft stands by the price, however, and claims it’s best suited for the development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run Windows, such as phones, tablets and similar system on a chip (SoC) platforms. 

Those interested in Sharks Cove can pre-order the hardware as of writing through Mouser Electronics.

TechSpot

Alienware 17 Review (2014 Edition)

The Alienware 17 is mostly unchanged since last year which isn’t a bad thing; it keeps the stealthy design, great build quality, AlienFX customizable lighting system and excellent gaming performance we praised it for previously. This iteration adds AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 M290X graphics card to the stable, which goes head to head with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 860M and 870M offerings. The GTX 880M still rules the roost in raw graphics muscle, but AMD’s offering comes at a significantly lower price point.

Build and Design

Alienware 17 (2014) backAlienware notebooks make a strong statement when it comes to design; this is a package deal. Its stealth-like exterior has subtle but noticeable angles that create a futuristic appearance. There’s no hiding this notebook’s bulk, however; the Alienware 17 is nearly 10 pounds and just under two inches thick; a typical non-performance oriented 17.3″ notebook is about two-thirds the weight and thickness.

The AlienFX LED lighting system is user-customizable with multiple different lighting zones; the lid has two, the keyboard has four, the touchpad is one, the Alienware logo below is another the display and the final one is the strip around the chassis. Each zone can be set to a different color, to morph between two colors or be turned completely off. The AlienFX system can be completely turned off by pressing the [Fn] and [F12] keys simultaneously, a good idea while on battery to preserve power. Alienware debuted the AlienFX system in 2009 with the original Alienware m17x and we’ve been a fan of it ever since; it’s truly unique and keeps the ownership experience exciting.

Alienware 17 (2014) frontThe Alienware 17′s build materials consist of mostly plastic with touches of aluminum; the latter is found below the display hinge and comprises the entire back of the display. The display is impressively rigid and resists both flexing and twisting very well for its size. A strong lid design is important for protecting the display panel, especially if the notebook will see travel. The display’s hinge is stiff to the point where two hands are required to open the lid, but still operates very smoothly. The rest of the chassis is similarly rock solid; it’s nearly immune to flex and no part of the chassis surface gives way when applying pressure.

We like the soft-touch rubberized chassis surfaces; these conceal fingerprints and wear better over time than traditional plastic. Fit and finish is overall good with clean and consistent gaps between parts.

The Alienware 17 is user-upgradeable friendly, thanks to the large removable panel on the chassis bottom. This panel provides access to the memory modules (there are four total slots, all of which are occupied in our review unit’s 16GB configuration; 4x 4GB), both internal storage drives and the wireless card.

Input and Output Ports

The Alienware 17′s bulk allows it to include a multitude of ports including HDMI in and out, mini-DisplayPort, two headphone jacks and four USB 3.0 ports. All picture descriptions are left to right.

Alienware 17 (2014) ports left
Left: AC power jack, Kensington lock slot, HDMI in/out, mini-DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.0, microphone, 2x headphone jack

Alienware 17 (2014) ports right
Right: media card reader (top), slot-load optical drive (bottom), 2x USB 3.0, Ethernet

Screen and Speakers

Two resolutions are available on the Alienware 17: 1600×900 is standard and the higher 1920×1080 on our review unit is optional. Although it’s a TN-type panel, this display offers superb image quality. It has ample brightness and excellent contrast; black levels are strong. Color reproduction is very good with no lack of saturation without becoming excessive. The anti-glare display surface is welcomed; it produces no reflections in well-lit areas like displays with glossy surfaces. Viewing angles are vertically limited; the best image quality is found looking head on. Horizontal viewing angles are satisfactory with minimal shifts in color and brightness.

Alienware 17 (2014) screen sideAlienware 17 (2014) screen front
Alienware 17 (2014) screen backAlienware 17 (2014) screen forward

The 1920×1080 resolution is the highest offered on any 17.3″ notebook and is well worth the upgrade over the standard 1600×900 panel. Doing the math, 1920×1080 has 140% of the pixels and as a result displays a much finer level of detail in games, videos, and pictures. It’s also superior for productivity; you can easily use two windows side by side and won’t have to scroll as much in web pages and documents to see content.

The Alienware 17′s built-in Klipsch stereo speakers are located below the palm rest. These are a significant upgrade over standard notebook speakers with full sound and noticeable bass. They deliver sufficient volume to entertain a couple of people. It’s hard to expect more from a notebook. Remember, you can also get sound out of the Alienware 17 via its two static-free headphone jacks, HDMI, or mini-DisplayPort.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Alienware 17 (2014) keyboardThe Alienware 17′s full-size keyboard includes a separate numeric keypad and is backlit in a combination of any four colors you want. That’s right; the keyboard is split into four distinct lighting zones as part of the AlienFX LED lighting system. In addition to being able to change color, the zones can be set to pulse or morph between two colors. Other notebooks we’ve tested over the past several months have started offering different color keyboard backlighting, but none were as comprehensive as Alienware’s AlienFX solution.

We enjoy the Alienware 17′s typing experience. The keys have plenty of travel for good tactile response. The feel is cushioned and a bit rubbery but pleasant and quiet. There is no keyboard flex. The keyboard has a relatively standard layout with all of the expected keys. There are four additional user-programmable keys above the numeric keypad, which gamers will likely find useful (especially for MMO games). We like the rubberized surface on the keys because it hides fingerprints and should wear well over time.

Alienware 17 (2014) touchpadThe touchpad is properly sized for a 17.3-inch display and sits centered below the keyboard. It’s also an AlienFX lighting zone and can be changed to any color. We’re pleased that this is a traditional touchpad with two physical buttons as opposed to a clickpad where you press down anywhere to produce a click. This setup provides more reliable tactile feedback; the buttons provide a cushioned response with almost no noise. The touchpad’s anti-glare surface is easy to accurately track across.

NotebookReview.com

destinycompare

Weekend tech reading: Oculus Rift DK2 & OS X Yosemite previewed, Destiny compared on PS4/XO

Day one with the Oculus Rift DK2, the good, the ugly and the games  So, the DK2 is here and I’ve spent the day with it. Ahead of our detailed review of the unit, which will land soon, I wanted to share some quick thoughts and impressions with you. The DK2 VR Headset is a quality piece of hardware made from good solid quality plastics. The unit does not feel heavy, despite its extra 60g heft over the DK1, and on the head the weight difference is unnoticeable as the unit fits better around your face with the top strap and cable running over your head. No more breakout box! Only a single, braided cable running over the top of your head. Road to VR

Super-dense computer memory A novel type of computer memory could, in theory, let you store tens or even hundreds of times as much data on your smartphone. Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated a more practical way to manufacture it. The type of memory in question, resistive random access memory (RRAM), is being developed by several companies, but fabrication usually requires high-temperatures or voltages, making production difficult and expensive. The Rice researchers have shown a way to make RRAM at room temperature and with far lower voltages. MIT Technology Review

Blurred lines: Are YouTubers breaking the law? John Bain received his first offer to create advertorial for his YouTube channel in 2010. “A video game publisher asked me to create a video about one of its titles,” says Bain. “They agreed to pay for the coverage so long as I agreed to not say anything negative about the game.” It was the first of a slew of such deals that Bain — better known to his 1.7 million YouTube channel subscribers as TotalBiscuit – has been offered, from posting a product link in a video’s description through to elaborate ad campaigns. Eurogamer

Leaked photos of a Motorola pre-production device: This may be the Moto X+1 We’ve been hearing rumors and seeing at least some evidence of a new Motorola flagship for the past few months. The Moto X was released in August of last year, which makes it just about time for a refresh in the current yearly phone cycle. Recently a tipster sent us a series of photos, claiming that the device is a “near-final prototype” from Motorola. The source claims that what you’re looking at is the Moto X+1, and based on the evidence, it seems reasonably legitimate. Android Police

What it’s like to play games when you’re colorblind The first time I realized my color blindness was affecting how I played games was back in 2004. EA was fresh off of MVP Baseball 2004 and was looking to improve on a game that I still hold as one of the best sports titles of all time. Their big addition for MVP Baseball 2005 was the Hitter’s Eye, a mechanic designed to simulate how hitters pick up different pitches coming out of a pitcher’s hand. The ball would stay white for a fastball, or flash red or green for a breaking ball or changeup respectively. Kotaku

Preview: A closer look at OS X Yosemite, just in time for the public beta It’s not difficult to get your hands on pre-release Apple software. For a mere $ 198 a year ($ 99 each for OS X and iOS) you can download beta versions of operating systems from Apple’s developer site even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life. This year, Apple is taking things a step further. The new public beta program for OS X Yosemite officially launches Thursday, taking software that has traditionally been protected from the public by a $ 99 paywall and distributing it to the first million users who sign up on Apple’s site. Ars Technica

Near miss: The solar superstorm of July 2012 If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news. Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado. Nasa

Hold the phone: A big-data conundrum One advantage of being a professor is that you can ramble about your eccentric theories to a captive audience. For example, I often grumble to my graduate students that every time a newiPhone comes out, my existing iPhone seems to slow down. How convenient, I might think: Wouldn’t many business owners love to make their old product less useful whenever they released a newer one? When you sell the device and control the operating system, that’s an option. The NY Times

Tripping on air: Why game journalists can’t describe games It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Super Smash Brothers Melee. The first time I played a game on console was the original Super Smash Bros. on N64 at a friend’s house. He warned another friend who had the game not to invite me over, because I’d do nothing but play Smash Bros. I’ve probably spent more time playing Melee and Smash Bros in general than any other game I own… Gather Your Party

6 TB NAS Drives: WD Red, Seagate Enterprise Capacity and HGST Ultrastar He6 face-off  The SMB / SOHO / consumer NAS market has been experiencing rapid growth over the last few years. With declining PC sales and increase in affordability of SSDs, hard drive vendors have scrambled to make up for the deficit and increase revenue by targeting the NAS market. The good news is that the growth is expected to accelerate in the near future… AnandTech

PS4 Destiny graphics look superior to Xbox One version, but barely A few days ago, the Destiny beta finally made its way to the Xbox One and Xbox 360. It launched on the PS4 and PS3 earlier in the month, but now we can get a good look at the beta running on both of the current generation consoles. It’s no surprise that the last-gen versions are noticeably uglier, but how does the 900p Xbox One version stack up to the beta running at 1080p on the PS4? ExtremeTech

The almost forgotten story of the Amiga 2000 Steve Jobs was quoted that he wanted to “make a dent in the universe”, and now, everyone (other than Amiga users) wants to change the history books and erase Commodore and the Amiga from history but, there actually was one Amiga that truly changed the world. Unfortunately, The Amiga 2000 is one of the least favorite or collectible Amigas . Even today, with the most “die hard” Amiga fans, the A2000 often is ignored and shunned as a “big, ugly, tank” tank of a machine. Amiga Lounge

Dynamics of Steam as a sales platform Visibility is everything. It’s so much more important than anything that you can sacrifice everything else to gain more visibility on the front page, but it’s not easy. In that sense, it’s much more important than if you have a good game, good scores, optimum price, good promo materials, and awareness. But all these work to increase your chance of visibility on the front page. It seems. Gamasutra (also, “PC is decimating console, just through price” – Romero)

How to invent a person online On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown – 6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist. The Atlantic

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