TOP NEWS
AOC's new backlight tech saves your eyeballs from harmful wavelengths
— 6:00 AM on September 18, 2014

A lot of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at LCD displays. That's tough on the eyes for various reasons, including the fact that LED backlights can emit short-wave blue light in the 380-450 nm range. These emissions are a possible "contributor to vision impairments," according to monitor maker AOC, which has developed a technique to reduce the damaging output. The simply named Anti-Blue Light technology will debut this year in a new line of 76V Series monitors.


Source: AOC

AOC claims its backlight tuning can reduce short-wave emissions by 90% "without dimming or distorting colors." The tweaks apparently involve "a new LED technology that shifts the wavelength peak of the LED backlight from 450 nm to 460 nm, moving it out of the range which is considered harmful."

The technology sounds intriguing, but the press release is short on details. So is AOC's website, which makes no mention of blue light reduction at all. If the changes are limited to the backlight, they should at least be compatible with different panel types, like IPS and TN. There doesn't seem to be any reason for conflict with higher resolutions or dynamic refresh rates.

Apart from providing a nebulous family name, AOC doesn't say what sort of displays will be first to cut their blue light output. It will be interesting to see if their color reproduction is really unaffected—and if there's an accompanying reduction in eye strain.

7 comments — Last by sweatshopking at 8:06 AM on 09/18/14

Report: Asus may sue mobo makers over patent infringement
— 3:04 PM on September 17, 2014

Jeez. Are patent lawyers giving out discounts this month? Two weeks ago, Nvidia filed a patent suit against Samsung and Qualcomm. Today, DigiTimes reports that Asus may be about to do the same with its rivals in the motherboard market.

The bone of contention is reportedly OC Socket, a new feature on Asus' X99 motherboards. OC Socket adds extra pins to the LGA2011-v3 socket, which supposedly stabilizes voltages and raises overclocking headroom.

According to DigiTimes, Asus learned that the feature is making its way to some of its rivals' X99 mobos. "Based on its initial investigation," the site adds, "Asustek suspects supply chain makers leaked confidential OC Socket designs to competitors and it therefore plans to sue the competitors for infringing its patents."

Of course, like much of what DigiTimes reports, this is still entirely unofficial. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for any official developments.

49 comments — Last by chuckula at 8:41 AM on 09/18/14

New footage, previews shed light on Gearbox's Battleborn
— 1:04 PM on September 17, 2014

Battleborn is the next game in the pipeline for Gearbox, and as we learned in July, it's a completely new property pitched as a "next-gen hero-shooter." Several sites have posted previews of the game, shedding more light onto Battleborn's story and mechanics—and providing us with some fresh video footage. Here's the video from IGN's preview:

In Battleborn, an evil race known as the Varelsi has extinguished all but one star in the universe. Surviving species from across the cosmos have gathered at the last remaining sun for an intergalactic showdown. Gearbox writer Aaron Linde says the story has "some heaviness to it," but the studio doesn't plan to stray from Borderlands' joke-laden storytelling style. Dark humor will, I expect, be the name of the game.

On the mechanics front, Battleborn will let players fill the shoes of a dizzying variety of characters. Polygon's preview quotes Gearbox President Randy Pitchford as saying, in essence, that what Borderlands did with weapons, Battleborn will do with characters. "Every kind of character trope you've imagined in an FPS, we want a representation of that in Battleborn," Pitchford told the site. Nine characters have been revealed so far, and "many more" are to follow.

The gameplay will be split into 20-30-minute missions, or "scenarios," all playable in single-player and five-player co-op modes. In what Gearbox describes as an accelerated leveling system, characters will climb from level 1 to maximum level during the course of each mission. As IGN points out, that system should make for a more egalitarian experience than Borderlands, which penalized lower-level players in co-op adventures.

As I said before, I'm glad Gearbox is innovating instead of milking the Borderlands cash cow ad nauseum. By the look of it, that innovation is going to pay off. Too bad we'll have to wait until 2015 to check out Battleborn for ourselves.

11 comments — Last by nanoflower at 2:17 AM on 09/18/14

Custom mechanical switches line Logitech's G910 gaming keyboard
— 10:34 AM on September 17, 2014

Logitech is the latest keyboard maker with its own mechanical switch design. The proprietary Romer-G switches have the same 45-g actuation force as Cherry MX red and brown switches, but their 1.5-mm actuation point is slightly shallower, which should make for a quicker response. There's no mention of a tactile "bump" at actuation, suggesting the stroke is fully linear, just like with MX red and black switches.

The Romer-G switches are debuting in Logitech's new G910 Orion Spark, which is claimed to be the most advanced mechanical gaming keyboard in the world. (Add your own movie-trailer voiceover.) I'm not so sure about that assertion, but the G910 certainly looks well equipped. It has sculpted key caps, nine programmable buttons, three configuration profiles, two different palm rests, and the usual array of media-specific buttons. There's even an integrated smartphone stand.


Source: Logitech

The backlighting is pretty slick, too. Users can choose each key's color from a palette of 16.8 million hues. As far as I can tell, the LEDs are mounted on the surface of the board instead of on the switches themselves. A "light pipe" channels the glow into the key cap, purportedly providing more even illumination than traditional backlights. This approach is also supposed to cut down on light bleed between the keys.

With a $179.99 asking price, the G910 Orion Spark certainly isn't cheap. The custom keys are supposed to be more durable than Cherry MX units, though, and the promise of quicker actuation could appeal to serious gamers. Expect to see the G910 on sale in November.

36 comments — Last by sweatshopking at 8:07 AM on 09/18/14

Leak reveals next-gen Kindle with 300-PPI screen
— 9:14 AM on September 17, 2014

Yes, Amazon updates its Kindle e-readers every year, so it's kind of a given that a new model is coming this fall. This year's refresh may actually be interesting, though. According to The Verge, the next model will be called the Kindle Voyage, and it will feature a 300 PPI screen.

300 PPI would represent a 42% increase in pixel density over the Kindle Paperwhite, whose 6", 768x1024 e-ink panel yields only 212 PPI. The Verge says the Kindle Voyage will stick with the same 6" display size, so I guess that means the resolution will wind up somewhere in the neighborhood of 1440x1050. The extra pixels should do wonders for font rendering, which isn't the Paperwhite's current strong suits.

This information comes from premature listings on Amazon Germany and Amazon Japan, so it's probably legit. The Verge even snagged a picture of the Kindle Voyage from an Amazon manual. The shot shows a device not unlike the current Paperwhite, but with a thinner frame and sensors on the left and right parts of the bezel. Apparently, the sensors will let you turn pages by "pressing lightly on the bezel." The Kindle Voyage is also supposed to be slightly thinner and lighter than the Papwerwhite. According to Amazon Japan, it will be 8-mm (0.31") thick and weigh 186 g (6.6 oz), down from 206 g (7.3 oz) and 9.1 mm (0.36") for the Paperwhite.

21 comments — Last by bthylafh at 8:08 AM on 09/18/14

Tubular scaffolding surrounds In Win's D-Frame Mini chassis
— 6:00 AM on September 17, 2014

In Win makes some of the most outlandish PC cases around. The company's latest creation isn't an entirely new design—it's Mini-ITX spin on an existing mid-tower—but the result is no less striking. Check out the D-Frame Mini:


Source: In Win

This semi-open enclosure is bounded by a tubular aluminum frame with fat pipes and beefy welds. Rubber bumpers line the frame's exterior, allowing the case to be propped up in multiple orientations. System components attach to aluminum plates and brackets inside the chassis, while tempered glass side panels offer a tinted view of the interior. A knurled carrying handle is also integrated into the scaffolding.

The frame measures 16" x 9" x 19.7", which is a little on the chunky side for Mini-ITX builds. Still, there's enough room inside for ATX PSUs up to 8.7" long and double-wide graphics cards up to 13.4". The maximum height for graphics cards is 5.9", and based on the layout, I'd expect a similar ceiling restriction on CPU coolers. Good thing the dual 120-mm fan mounts at the bottom can accept a double-length radiators.

Storage bays are plentiful, with three 3.5"/2.5" hybrids and two bays reserved for 2.5-inchers. The spec sheet doesn't mention support for slim or 5.25" optical drives, which probably won't be missed.


Source: In Win

The matte black version of the D-Frame Mini will be available first, followed by red and orange variants. Unfortunately, there's no indication of the asking price or expected street date. In Win's premium cases tend to be fairly expensive, so don't hold your breath for a bargain. Do, however, peruse the additional images in the gallery below.

59 comments — Last by Jason181 at 12:54 AM on 09/18/14

Microsoft intros equal-opportunity Bluetooth keyboard
— 2:32 PM on September 16, 2014

Google might have a keyboard in store for the Nexus 9, but Microsoft is thinking bigger. The folks in Redmond have announced a Bluetooth keyboard with a hardware switch that lets users hop from Windows to Android to iOS.

According to the Microsoft Store page, the Universal Mobile Keyboard can pair with up to three devices and run for up to six months on a "single overnight charge." The keyboard also comes with a protective cover that doubles as a stand for tablets and phones. Opening the cover turns on the keyboard and lets it sync via Bluetooth; shutting the cover turns the keyboard off again.

It all looks quite cleverly done. The price isn't too steep, either. Microsoft will charge $79.95 when the Universal Mobile Keyboard becomes available next month. That's about what you can expect to pay for an iPad folio case these days. (Thanks to Liliputing for the link.)

31 comments — Last by sweatshopking at 6:10 AM on 09/18/14

Nvidia gears up for Game24; AMD asks fans to crash the party
— 12:20 PM on September 16, 2014

With two days to go until the festivities begin, Nvidia is hyping up prospective attendees for its Game24 event. But AMD is apparently determined not to let its competitor hog the spotlight.

Yesterday, Nvidia posted a long list of what's in store for the 24-hour event, including interviews with a dozen game studios, contests between eSports teams, a concurrent modding competition, and prize giveaways with $50,000 worth of goodies up for grabs. Earlier this morning, the company also revealed that several celebrities will be present at the event. Among them: Jason Mewes (a.k.a. Jay from Jay and Silent Bob), famed cosplayer Chloe Dykstra, Grant Imahara of MythBusters, and Kurt Sutter, creator of Sons of Anarchy.

Perhaps more interestingly, the latest teaser mentions "new product announcements" in store from both Nvidia itself and game publishers. There may be some real meat in there for us journalists.

Meanwhile, according to Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho, AMD has e-mailed 15,000 of its fans asking them—quite literally—to crash Nvidia's party this week.

The e-mail starts off by saying AMD is "intrigued" that "another graphics products company" is staging an event similar to its own AMD30Live. The message then adds that fans are "warmly encouraged" to attend the Nvidia event and represent the red team. It goes on to say:

On Sept 18th and 19th we’ll be watching the #Game24 hashtag and the @AMDRadeon twitter channel for pictures of you in attendance at the events, proudly wearing your favorite red T-shirt. Boldly tweet pictures of yourself wearing your colors while at these events, and we’ll send some love your way. The funnier and more inventive the photos, the better – remember, this is a celebration! Make sure to mention @AMDRadeon so we can find your posts easily.

The e-mail went out to members of the Red Team, a social media group of AMD fans. You can read a full transcript in the Forbes story. Though the missive apparently doesn't promise anything specific, Evangelho says he has it on "good authority" that AMD will reward participating fans with free Radeon graphics cards.

AMD effectively confirmed Evangelho's story yesterday, albeit with a more diplomatic turn of phrase:

However AMD chooses to define it, this looks to be a bold PR stunt in the making. I'm curious to see how Nvidia handles it.

91 comments — Last by ronch at 7:50 AM on 09/18/14

Rumored Nexus 9 tablet may have its own keyboard
— 11:23 AM on September 16, 2014

We've seen numerous rumors about a next-gen Nexus tablet with a Tegra K1 processor. Nvidia even confirmed the existence of such a device in a legal filing associated with its GPU patent dispute. Now, there's evidence that the new Nexus will have a keyboard in tow. Pictures of the accessory taken by Taiwan's National Communications Commission, a regulatory body similar to the FCC, have been posted at VR-Zone.

The keyboard appears to be similar to the Type Cover for Microsoft's Surface tablet. The layout is a little unconventional, though. Instead of leaving room at the bottom for a touchpad and palm rest, the keys go right up to the edge of the board. There's a big, empty space above them that seems to do little more than put distance between the top row and the base of the tablet. Weird.

Based on the ruler in the pictures, the keyboard appears to be sized for a 9" tablet. I don't see any indication that the keyboard and tablet would be physically linked, though Bluetooth could be used to connect them, just like on the Asus VivoTab Smart we reviewed last year. The lack of a physical connection makes me a little dubious that the tablet and keyboard will be comfortable to use when propped on one's lap. The keyboard area is likely a little too small for serious typing, too, but it probably beats the touchscreen.

Most of the tablets I see in the wild are accompanied by keyboards, so it makes sense for the Nexus 9 to have one of its own. Now, all Google has to do is get around to announcing the thing. The latest rumors suggest the tablet will feature a 64-bit version of the Tegra K1 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and an 8.9" display with a resolution of either 1920x1200 or 2560x1440.

14 comments — Last by Plazmodeus at 11:14 AM on 09/17/14

Microsoft plans Windows event on September 30
— 10:28 AM on September 16, 2014

Those rumors about the Windows 9 Technical Preview's impending release might just be true. As ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports, Microsoft has invited journalists to a Windows-related event on September 30. The invites read simply, "Join us to hear what's next for Windows and the enterprise."

There's not much else to go on, but this development lends weight to earlier rumors. Last month, The Verge quoted sources who were expecting a September 30 reveal for Windows 9—and a simultaneous or near-simultaneous release of the Technical Preview. ZDNet's Foley, too, foretold of a late September or early October release for the preview build.

The September 30 event's enterprise theme casts doubt over whether the Technical Preview will be available to all. However, Foley wrote last month, "One of my contacts who has provided accurate information on Windows in the past said the Threshold tech preview will be public and available to all those interested."

So, yeah. Set your calendars and prime your virtual machines, folks. There's a good chance we'll get to tinker with that new Start menu and Windows 9's other goodies very soon. (Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the link.)

19 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 7:51 AM on 09/18/14

Tuesday Shortbread
— 10:12 AM on September 16, 2014

Eight is Enough

  1. The Verge: Microsoft announces 'Windows 9'
    event in San Francisco on September 30th
  2. NPD: PC gamers tend to earn more than console gamers
  3. ExtremeTech: AMD CEO just laid out the company's two-year roadmap
  4. AnandTech on AMD's Power Pack: 6 APUs in a box for system builders
  5. IDF 2014: Where is Thunderbolt headed? - AnandTech
  6. Only at VC: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 final specifications
  7. techPowerUp!: Radeon R9 290X sees price cuts
  8. WP Central: Toshiba's 7" Encore Mini now
    in stock at the Microsoft Store for only $119

Read more...

77 comments — Last by NeelyCam at 2:04 PM on 09/17/14

32GB Shield tablet with LTE goes up for pre-order
— 9:04 AM on September 16, 2014

A new version of the Shield tablet is up for grabs—sort of.

The new model features LTE connectivity and 32GB of built-in storage, and Nvidia started taking pre-orders for it this morning. The company is charging $399, which represents a $100 premium over the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only variant we reviewed last month.


Source: Nvidia.

The new device is "fully unlocked" and compatible with more than 70 wireless carriers across the globe—including AT&T, for which it's fully certified. Speaking of which, folks who sign up with AT&T can cancel out the $100 premium and effectively get the device for $299 (though, of course, they'll still have to pay a monthly fee for LTE access). Here are the details:

Additionally, AT&T customers can receive a $100 bill credit when they activate their SHIELD on qualifying plans at an AT&T store or by calling 866-662-4548. Customers can add the tablet to an existing Mobile Share® Value SM plan for just $10 per month. For more information on getting started and receiving bill credit visit www.att.com/byop.

According to Nvidia, pre-orders of the 32GB Shield tablet with LTE will start shipping on September 30.

In related news, Nvidia is teasing three Shield-optimized Android games that are coming "very soon." Those are Beach Buggy Racing, a sequel to Beach Buggy Blitz; BombSquad, an eight-player multiplayer title featuring mini-games "from capture the flag to hockey"; and Broadsword: Age of Chivalry, a medieval turn-based strategy game with 3D graphics. Nvidia's blog post has some screenshots and extra details about those games.

6 comments — Last by l33t-g4m3r at 5:33 PM on 09/16/14

Micron's M600 SSD accelerates writes with dynamic SLC cache
— 7:00 AM on September 16, 2014

In some ways, Micron's M600 SSD is exactly what you'd expect. It combines the company's own 16-nm NAND with a marginally updated version of the usual Marvell controller. This pairing is familiar from the Crucial MX100, which is sold through Micron's consumer brand, but the M600 is quite different. Instead of treating the flash as two-bit MLC NAND, the M600 dynamically switches cells into single-bit SLC mode to improve write performance.


The M600 family. Source: Micron

Dubbed dynamic write acceleration (DWA), this switching occurs at the block level. Incoming writes are written in SLC mode before being moved to MLC storage during lulls in activity. All unused NAND is available to this effective write cache, which stretches across both user-accessible storage and overprovisioned area.

SLC caches are found in several Serial ATA SSDs on the market right now. However, those implementations rely on relatively small, static caches. The M600's write cache can be much larger—basically the entire drive—and its size changes on the fly. Just keep in mind that the SLC storage capacity is 50% lower than what the NAND can hold in MLC mode.

DWA is designed to accelerate the bursts of small writes typical of client systems. Performance improvements can be felt with the drive up to 99% full, Micron claims, but there are some caveats associated with sustained workloads. SLC caching can't improve steady-state performance with prolonged random writes, for example. Also, only so much data can be written in SLC mode before the drive has to shift back to MLC. The following graph from Micron's DWA whitepaper illustrates the change in speed as a secure-erased M600 128GB is filled to capacity with sustained sequential writes.


Source: Micron

The M600 enjoys speedy SLC write speeds until its logical saturation—the percentage of LBAs consumed—reaches 46%. After that, data is committed to the flash with much slower MLC writes. The speed drops again at 58%, when the drive starts transferring cached SLC data to MLC blocks in order to make room for the unabated stream of incoming writes.

The benefits of DWA are most pronounced in lower-capacity SSDs that have less NAND-level parallelism than their larger siblings. In fact, among 2.5" versions of the M600, only the 128GB and 256GB have the feature enabled. Micron says the 512GB and 1TB are fast enough to "saturate the bus" without it, at least for that form factor. M.2 and mSATA variants of the M600 scale up to 512GB, and they're all infused with SLC mojo. Those mini 512GB drives have fewer components and evidently less parallelism than their 2.5" counterparts.

Dynamic write acceleration also promises power-efficiency benefits. Less energy is consumed when writing the same amount of data, according to Micron, and faster transfers allow the drive to spend more time in a low-power state.

Unfortunately, this kind of caching inevitably increases write amplification. Micron estimates additional amplification up to 2X, depending on the application. You'd hardly know it from the endurance ratings, though. Unlike typical client SSDs, which are specced for ~72TB of total writes, the M600 is good for up to 400TB in its top capacity.

Capacity Die config Max sequential (MB/s) Max 4KB random (IOps) Endurance
(TBW)
Read Write Read Write
128GB 8 x 16GB 560 400 90,000 88,000 100
256GB 16 x 16GB 560 510 100,000 88,000 200
512GB 32 x 16GB 560 510 100,000 88,000 300
1TB 64 x 16GB 560 510 100,000 88,000 400

Despite its considerable endurance, the M600 isn't based on a higher-grade sorting of Micron's flash. The chips are pulled from the same stock as those in the MX100, but "proprietary NAND trims" are adjusted "to optimize for 50% more NAND endurance than SSDs that do not feature dynamic write acceleration." It's also worth noting that SLC writes are less damaging to the flash than MLC ones—and that some cached data will be erased before it's even been transferred to MLC storage.

Once you get past all the caching wizardry, the M600 is pretty conventional. You get a three-year warranty, support for the ultra-low-power DevSleep state, and the TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 certification required for encryption management software and Microsoft's eDrive specification.

There's always a catch, and in this case, it's the M600 will only be available to PC makers, system builders, and businesses. Unlike with some previous Micron SSDs, a Crucial-branded consumer version isn't in the cards. Micron wants to cut down on the crossover and confusion between its products and retail-oriented Crucial units. The Crucial team is free to use dynamic write acceleration in a separate product, though, and I suspect we'll see one before too long. It just won't be a re-stickered version of the M600.

Since the M600 isn't a retail product, we don't have an official price list. Micron tells us the 1TB version will sell for around ~$450, which seems reasonable to me. Drives are shipping to OEMs now, and we have a few of 'em in our labs for testing. We can't say more until the curtain lifts on reviews, though. Stay tuned.

13 comments — Last by Dissonance at 9:44 AM on 09/17/14

The TR Hardware Survey 2014: What's inside your main desktop PC?
— 3:26 PM on September 15, 2014

If you've been on TR for long enough, you probably remember our hardware surveys. Our first one went up way back in 2008, and we did another one in early 2011. In both instances, the concept was simple: ask our readers a whole bunch of questions about their PCs, let the answers pile up, and then dissect and analyze the data. The results were always enlightening—and sometimes surprising.

So, we thought we'd go for another round.

We've had to update our questions since last time, obviously. It's not just that new generations of products have come out—we've also witnessed the death and birth of entire companies and product categories. Solid-state drives weren't even a blip on the radar last time, for example, and there's been a fair amount of consolidation in motherboards and chipsets, too. Heck, even optical storage is on its way out these days.

To participate in the survey, simply scroll down to the questions below, and fill us in on what's inside (and, if applicable, outside) your primary desktop PC. Remember to click the "vote" button under each set of options after answering. You should see the results appear right away. Good luck, and thanks in advance for participating!

394 comments — Last by [+Duracell-] at 8:20 AM on 09/18/14

DisplayPort 1.3 supports 5K displays, 4K at 120Hz
— 10:49 AM on September 15, 2014

Dell's upcoming 5K monitor reportedly requires dual DisplayPort inputs to drive its 5120x2880 panel at full resolution. Future displays should be able to support that resolution with a single cable, though. VESA has announced a new version of the DisplayPort standard with enough bandwidth to transmit uncompressed 5K video.

DisplayPort 1.3 boosts the standard to 32.4 Gbps, a 50% increase over DP 1.2. As with its predecessor, that bandwidth is split evenly between four lanes. Transport overhead takes a slice off the top, leaving 25.92 Gbps available for video—enough for a single 5K display at 60Hz, dual 4K monitors at 60Hz, or one 4K output at 120Hz. Pretty impressive for a single copper cable.

In addition to moar bandwidth, DisplayPort 1.3 supports HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 with CEC. It also works with the 4:2:0 pixel format, which is meant to prime the standard for televisions and "future 8K x 4K displays." DisplayPort 1.3 should be able to pump out 7680x2160 images at 60Hz. There's enough bandwidth for 8K output, too, but not without lowering the refresh rate or color depth.

DisplayPort 1.3's additional bandwidth is good for more than just high-res video. The standard includes tweaked protocols for sharing display and data signals on a single cable. Combined with the faster pipe, those adjustments should a boon to DockPort, with combines DisplayPort and USB 3.0 on the same interface.

Like previous DisplayPort standards, version 1.3 is available free of licensing fees. There's no word on when the first compatible displays and graphics cards will be available, however. I'll take a 4K IPS monitor with adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz and a GPU fast enough to keep up. Please.

58 comments — Last by ferdinandh at 2:49 PM on 09/16/14

Microsoft officially announces $2.5B Minecraft buyout
— 9:09 AM on September 15, 2014

Wow, the rumors were right. Earlier this morning, Microsoft announced that it's agreed to acquire Mojang, the Swedish studio behind Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.

The plan is for Mojang to be incorporated into Microsoft Studios—and for Minecraft players to enjoy "richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the 'Minecraft' community." The game will stay available on all current platforms, including not just Windows and Xbox, but also iOS, Android, and PlayStation.

Microsoft doesn't say when the acquisition will close. Interestingly, however, it says the deal should break even during its 2015 fiscal year (so, by the end of October 2015). Microsoft expects Minecraft to be a pretty big cash cow, by the looks of it.

More information can found on the official Mojang blog. The Mojang guys say Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson never intended for his game to "get so big," and the associated pressure "became too much for him to handle"—hence the sale. Persson, along with Mojang co-founders Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér, will be departing the company once the deal is done. However, the "vast majority" of other Mojang employees are expected to stick around.

Mojang expects Minecraft will "continue to evolve, just like it has since the start of development." It adds, "We don’t know specific plans for Minecraft's future yet, but we do know that everyone involved wants the community to grow and become even more amazing than it's ever been. Stopping players making cool stuff is not in anyone's interests."

126 comments — Last by Krogoth at 3:57 AM on 09/18/14

Videos show Win9 preview's virtual desktops, notification center
— 6:00 AM on September 15, 2014

Last week, WinFutures treated us to a video of the Windows 9 Technical Preview's Start menu in action. Turns out the German site has videos of the operating system's other new features, including virtual desktops and notifications:

The virtual desktops remind me a little bit of OS X's Mission Control. The interface provides an overview not just of individual desktops, but also of individual windows open inside each one. That two-for-one preview is pretty handy when you've got lots of overlapping windows open in multiple desktops. I'm hoping Microsoft will let users drag windows across desktops, too, but the video doesn't explore that.

The notifications widget looks like an improvement over Windows 8.1's transient gray rectangles. I think the icon would benefit from more prominent placement (rather than looking like just another tray icon), but that's a minor quibble. The UI may get refined and polished by the time Windows 9 ships next spring, anyway.

In yet another video, WinFuture shows the neo-Start menu can also be had sans live tiles. That doesn't warrant another embedded clip, but it's good to know. I'm sure a lot of folks will like the pre-WinXP look of the tile-free Start menu.

Again, the Windows 9 Technical Preview is expected to arrive on September 30. If the rumors are right, we'll all get to play with these features very soon. (Thanks to Neowin for the links.)

45 comments — Last by LoneWolf15 at 9:40 PM on 09/16/14

Friday Evening Shortbread
— 6:02 PM on September 12, 2014

Eight is Enough

  1. MacRumors: Apple's ultra-slim 12" notebook coming
    in mid-2015 with silver, gold, and space gray options?
  2. WCCFtech: GeForce GTX 970 and 980 pricing leaked,
    $399 and $499 respectively - Zotac GTX 970 pictured
  3. VideoCardz: MSI shows off GeForce GTX
    970 / 980 Gaming with Twin Frozr V cooler
  4. VideoCardz has breaking news: AMD Radeon R9 390X cooling pictured
  5. Reuters: Larger Apple iPhone shipments delayed amid record orders
  6. LinuxGizmos: VR headset mixes Oculus firmware and Android phablet
  7. Softpedia: Play Linux is a gaming OS that wants
    to stop people from dual-booting with Windows
  8. WCCFtech: GTA V next-gen vs. last-gen screenshot
    comparison shows staggering graphical improvements

Read more...

70 comments — Last by NeelyCam at 9:04 PM on 09/15/14

Friday night topic: How often do you unplug?
— 5:19 PM on September 12, 2014

With Google and Apple trying to sell us wearable tech, and everyone else force-feeding us the Internet of things, the trend lately is toward more screen time, not less. It's like we're expected to have an Internet-enabled contraption in our face at all times.

Funny thing, though. More and more often these past few months, I've been leaving my phone at home when taking walks outside. It started with simple forgetfulness, but it's turned into a ritual of sorts. See, there's something awfully relaxing, downright serene about not having the Internet in my pocket. I get to enjoy the moment without interruptions or distractions. When I see something interesting or beautiful, I have to experience it without feeling the urge to take a picture. If I don't know or remember something off the top of my head, I have to think and debate and converse.

...though I'll probably still Google it when I get home.

Along the same lines, I've been reading more printed books lately. I made the switch after getting sick of my Kindle's less-than-perfect typesetting, and I found that there were many other reasons to enjoy dead-tree media: no white LEDs glowing under the page, no battery life indicators to worry about, no distracting widgets or numbers on the screen, and a much greater feeling of intimacy and immersion. A number of studies suggest printed books are conducive to better reading comprehension, too. And heaving around a copy of Infinite Jest is a pretty good workout.

What about you? How often do you deliberately unplug? Does taking breaks from the Internet make your life better, or are you happier being constantly connected?

84 comments — Last by TwoEars at 6:53 PM on 09/15/14

Windows 9 preview's Start menu caught on video
— 2:46 PM on September 12, 2014

Those crafty Germans are getting all the Windows 9 scoops lately. On the heels of ComputerBase's screenshot gallery, WinFuture has posted a video of the revived Start menu in the upcoming Windows 9 Technical Preview. Und siehe da!

The menu looks a little different from what Microsoft demoed back in April. The Modern UI styling is more pervasive, and elements of the Start screen have been included. The video also shows how one goes about adding new tiles and rearranging or resizing existing ones, which works about as you'd expect. There's even an instance of a Modern UI app being opened and loading in a nice, small window.

The most interesting part, though, is at the end. It looks like you can choose to use either the Start menu or the Start screen by ticking a checkbox in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties control panel. But even with the Start screen enabled, Modern UI apps still load with window frames on the desktop. Hmm.

According to the rumor mill, Microsoft plans to make the Windows 9 Technical Preview available to the public on September 30.

53 comments — Last by Ninjitsu at 1:45 PM on 09/15/14