— 12:43 PM on February 15, 2006

It's an Etc.!? Haven't seen one of those in a while. My apologies for being a bit scarce on the front page lately. I've had my head down working on graphics card reviews, editing other folks' articles, and working on multiple projects behind the scenes. We are currently trying to juggle various priorities and determine what comes next, and it's a daunting task.

Among the projects I've been brewing is a second-stage HTPC build. The first stage wasn't all that whippy, in part because I had to throw it together in very short order. I've given this new one a lot more thought (and a bigger budget), and the results are more to my liking. I don't want to give away too much, but I can tell you that the TiVo has fallen out of favor at our house pretty quickly as a result. I just ordered the last two parts for this box yesterday, and I'd like to do a write-up soon. Building a good HTPC is still a tricky task, with different kinds of problems and areas of emphasis than a desktop PC, but the results can be very gratifying.

My other PC building project of late is a pair of new web servers for TR. They're pretty much identical and look like this. Very sweet. I'm planning to do a write-up on those puppies, as well.

I was hoping to make it a trifecta for "mobile week" here at TR in the wake of Andy's Pentium M vs. Turion 64 comparo and Geoff's mobile SATA HDD round-up. My search for the ultimate ultraportable ended in the purchase of a Sharp M4000 WideNote laptop, and I'd like to share my impressions of the system. No, I didn't wait for Core Duo, but I have few regrets overall. This is just the type of device I wanted. I don't think I'll be able to finish my write-up this week, however, so our thematic approach is blown. Ah, well.

We seem to have slipped into some mobile computing coverage, even though it wasn't totally planned out from the beginning, because that's where our fancy has led us as PC enthusiasts. We still resist the urge to test complete laptop systems because we like our component-based approach to hardware, but that approach does have its limits in the mobile space. The desktop-type motherboards for mobile processors kind of suck, for one thing. That's frustrating. I'm not quite sure where all of this will lead in the end, but folks seem to have enjoyed seeing our Pentium M vs. Turion 64 comparison. On that front, we are in possession of two other Turion 64 processors, an MT-42 and an ML-42, and we plan to do some additional testing in order to highlight the differences between the 25W and 35W rated Turions soon. I'm curious to see the results myself.

After that, I hope, is the Core Duo. I've managed to snag a Yonah chip via secret and covert methods, and it's sitting here on my desk awaiting a motherboard. We have a lead or two on boards, but if you're a mobo maker reading this with a Core Duo motherboard ready to ship, by all means let me know. The sooner we can get a board, the sooner we can test this puppy.

I have been remiss on the CPU front in another way, because we've had a couple of Opteron 100-series processors languishing in Damage Labs for a while now. Those have been crying out to be tested, but their cries fell of deaf ears as I irresponsibly watched TV on the AIW X1900 and did various other things. I hope to have that review out soon, as well as a look at Intel's Pentium D 900-series chips, but I'm knee-deep in troubleshooting an odd problem with our Socket 939 test system right now. If I can resolve that quickly, I should have something next week. If not, my work on that may be preempted by a new chipset launch. We'll have to see how that shakes out.

That's more or less what's shaking in Damage Labs of late. Of course, Geoff has even more stuff cooking, as well. I won't bore you with the details of the behind-the-scenes biz stuff, other than to say that we continue to work toward a new look for the site, some new back-end tools, and another staffer to focus on keeping front-page news fresh. Yes, we are growing just a little bit, and it should make '06 lots of fun.

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