The TR Podcast 147: Amazon airlifts, 4K goes mainstream, and 290X goes wobbly


Plus listener mail and cottage cheese
— 9:16 PM on December 11, 2013

The Tech Report Podcast

Date: December 11, 2013
Duration: 1:28:02

Hosted by: Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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Show notes
At long last, our panelists return with another glorious hour-and-a-half of vocal tech reporting. A large slew of listener mail questions kick off the show. The questions cover everything from hard drive health monitoring to Moore's law and gaming. Then, we cover some of the latest tech news, including Amazon's new drone delivery service, John Carmack's departure from id Software, and the death of Winamp. Finally, Scott takes a deep dive into the question, "are retail Radeon R9 290X cards slower than press samples?"

Send in listener mail, and we'll answer on the podcast. - jdrake@techreport.com

Follow us on Twitter - Scott - Jordan - Geoff - Cyril - The Tech Report

Listener mail/tweets:

Hard drive monitoring? - from Shawn:

"Love the work you and the guys are doing. My question relates to detecting HD errors. I know you can check the Windows Event log but is there any good (and free) way to automatically detect when a HD error occurs (like a bad block) and warn the user? My reason for asking is that I just had a Seagate ST1000DM003 drive go south on me with a bunch of bad blocks but never saw a sign that it was going south since it is mostly used as an archive drive. Luckily I only lost a few files before copying everything off the drive but I don't want this to happen again. Gsmartctrl doesn't really work since it says the drive passes SMART (unless I do a specific read test). HD Sentinel does what I want but it costs $$ and really doesn't make sense for a personal system. So are there any good options available? Thanks for any help you can provide"

Office keyboard and mouse? - from Matt:

"The computers at my office are going to be replaced in December, but we are stuck with the standard wired keyboard and mouse combo from Dell. What keyboards and mice would you recommend for the office setting, primarily with using Excel? I'm assuming that I won't be able to install any software that enables extra features, and I have no preference to a wired or wireless setup."

Moore’s law and gaming? - from Mohi:

&quot’Hi there. You guys know Moore's law right? Every year or in a particular cadence chip makers release new pieces of silicon that significantly outperform their predecessors. Since 2009, We've observed exponential graphics horsepower get heaper. Now, we have awesome graphics cards and CPUs that are incredibly fast and versatile.

My question: Why is gaming, as whole, stagnant? I've since Crysis through Crysis 3, And it would be a massacre to say there was no innovation. However, I'm not sure that Crysis 3 is that much better looking than the original. Heck I'd say, and I think some may agree that in some ways, the original was better looking. It certainly had better sound. We have had GPU's that double performance compared to their predecessors, but know game has had a perceptible improvement. I'm not referring to the consoles causing the situation, I'm talking about developers. Have they run out of Ideas? Remember how Half life 2 was a revolution? Why aren't we seeing those massive leaps anymore? Also, would like to hear gaming discussions back in the podcast. Sorry for the long question, Keep up the great work, and çox sag olun."

HUMA and Mantle? - from Evan:

"Hi, I have listened to your podcast's online since the beginning and I love your work, only recently have I begun to chime in on your forums under the name Modivated1 since the recent revelations of HUMA and Mantle. I haven't upgraded my system since January of 2009 which will make my system five years old and therefore I plan to upgrade toward the beginning of next year after I get my tax return. My question is, is HUMA and particularly Mantle compatible with currently released cpu's and gpu's like the 8350 and the r9 290(x) or will we have to invest in Kaveri based Apu's to get that advantage? Oh, another quick question if you don't mind is when is the DDR4 standard going to take effect and should I wait for that release to upgrade? Thanks for your great efforts to stay objective in your reviews, the wonderful layout of your website, your hard a perilous work analyzing various hardware and of course answering my questions."

Tech discussion:

  • Amazon wants to airlift packages to your doorstep - Read more

    Dell intros 4K monitors; sub-$1,000 model coming soon - Read more

    Carmack to leave id, focus on Oculus - Read more

    OCZ filing for bankruptcy, assets could go to Toshiba - Read more

    It's official: Toshiba will snatch up OCZ's SSD business - Read more

    Winamp is shutting down December 20 - Read more

    Are retail Radeon R9 290X cards slower than press samples? - Read more

That's all, folks! We'll see you on the next episode.TR

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