The TR Podcast 69: Answering the mailbag, living with the Pre, and the terabyte showdown

The Tech Report Podcast Date: August 1st, 2010

Time: 1:23:24

Hosted by Jordan Drake

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

Download: MP3 (60.2MB) | M4A (82.2MB)

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Show notes

We start this week’s episode by answering a healthy helping of listener mail questions, covering everything from home file servers to e-books. Geoff and Scott follow with parallel smartphone stories—Geoff pleased with his new Palm Pre, while Scott is somewhat disappointed with his iPhone 4.

Later, Geoff summarizes his roundup of an assortment of 7200-RPM terabyte hard drives. Then, after our panel covers three Nvidia-related news stories, Scott takes a look at Intel’s newest Xeon processors, and Cyril has our latest GPU value article results.

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

Follow us on Twitter – ScottJordanGeoffCyrilThe Tech Report

Listener mail:

Home storage servers – from Keanan – (0:01:13):

“First let me start by saying that I love the show and think you guys do a great job with the podcasts. I have a question in regards to file servers. I’ve noticed that in several podcasts both Scott and Geoff make mention that they have file servers tucked away in closets at their house. Could you discuss the OS of choice you use for your servers ie (windows XP, server, or Linux ), the hardware (cpu, hdd, dedicated raid card or integrated like ICH9), and how you have them configured to service you and your family needs? Would you also consider the possibility of adding a how to article like you did for overclocking and building a PC?

Is optical media dead? – from Renoir – (0:06:14):

“I was wandering what you guys think about the future of optical media for backup purposes? I used to do all my backups to CD & DVDs but have now completely switched over to using hard drives, thumb drives & online backup (dropbox). I just find it so much more convenient not to mention faster. I plan to just transfer my data across to new drives every few years so the long term longevity of hard drives is a non issue for me. On a related note my primary computer is a laptop & I’m looking forward to having an SSD in place of the optical drive. Do any of you still use optical media for backup and if so why?

TR and Tablets? – from Darkmage – (0:08:52):

“The Tech Report is a site that follows & reviews PC hardware. From components such as graphics cards, CPUs, system cases, to office chairs and occasionally hand models, you guys are pretty much on top of the home PC market. Your in-depth reviews are probably only matched by manufacturer’s internal testing and many a component has been broken upon the back of the TR test rig. But what about the future? Several manufacturers have announced that they will be releasing tablet PCs soon. And I’m not talking about mobile-OS based tablets such as the iPad or the latest Android variant. I mean touch-lovin’, HDMI-out sportin’, SD Card adaptin’, honest-to-Megatron tablet PCs running Windows 7. Has the staff of TR given a thought to how they will test such beasts? What in your current test suite is irrelevant? What do you think you will need in order to properly give a tablet the once-over? Are you planning to test tablets at all? Will you compare them to desktop PCs? To laptops? To their mobile-OS based brethren? What does TR plan to do with the tablet revolution?

Graphics driver comparison? – from Tyler – (0:16:07):

“This question/suggestion goes to Cyril… but however not limited to Cyril He had mentioned that Nvidia driver revisions have increased the FPS performance of games on the GF100 graphics cards. I was wondering if maybe there would be a comparison of FPS of the original drivers vs the newest drivers out today. I feel this would be a good showing of how far Nvidia/Ati has/hasn’t (that order wasn’t planned haha) come with enhancing and maturing these new architectures. It would be interesting to see who has made the most strides in performance and in what games. (battle of the software driver teams)

eBooks? – from Sean (alphacheez) – (0:19:53):

“Just wondering if any of you read ebooks and what devices and software you might use to read them. I only do a little ebook reading and tend to use the Kindle or the Shakespeare app on my iPhone 3g. The Kindle getting a wifi only version for $139 looks pretty compelling but I’d like to know what you all think.

Again, great podcast. I listen frequently. I was just surprised there was not more coverage on the points above.”

Tech discussion:

    Wading into the smartphone world with a Palm Pre (0:23:44)- Read more

    Scott’s iPhone 4 woes (0:31:15)

    7,200-RPM terabytes from Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and WD face off (0:37:46)- Read more

    Mercury Research: AMD outshipped Nvidia last quarter (0:46:09)- Read more

    Businessweek: Nvidia’s future hinges on Tegra, Tesla (0:48:46)- Read more

    Nvidia warns on second quarter results (0:55:56)- Read more

    Intel’s Xeon 5600 processors (0:57:42)- Read more

    GPU value in the DirectX 11 age (1:06:10)- Read more

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

Comments closed
    • Ardrid
    • 9 years ago

    I gotta say I’m really disturbed by Scott’s comments. It sounds like his iPhone 4 has all of these problems and yet he’s content to be forced to find work arounds and still give Apple his money instead of voting with his wallet. This is why things don’t change and why Apple understands that it can treat it’s customers like fools. People are willing to put up with defective devices, and, yes, if your device requires you to use a case and requires you to use a headset, it is fundamentally defective.

    I’m also a bit annoyed by the fact that he knocks Android users/fans for liking the fact that they have the *[

      • Damage
      • 9 years ago

      Sounds to me like you rather easily find things disturbing. Can’t we just disagree, instead?

      FWIW, of course, if Apple doesn’t fix the serious proximity sensor and Bluetooth issues I discussed in the podcast, I will have to consider returning the product. I’m watching news of the iOS 4.1 betas closely.

      I’m also fine with folks having the choice of customizing their phones. I like that! But I don’t like that the default user experience for Android has been, to date, deeply inconsistent from phone to phone and often flawed. Having the option to customize when it’s shackled to the need to do so in order to produce a good user experience isn’t exactly the sort of freedom I want. This feels like desktop Linux all over again in many ways. If we go from “Linux is only free if your time has no value” to a mobile version where you’ve also paid for it, well, that’s not progress–and it’s definitely not what I want out of a smart phone, personally.

        • Damage
        • 9 years ago

        Dude, aren’t you also deeply disturbed that you, as a journalist, called out those issues in a public forum and said they were a big deal, yet he’s accusing you of trying to sweep it under the rug?

          • Damage
          • 9 years ago

          Nah. I don’t get disturbed that easily. He’s nuts, though, isn’t he? 🙂

            • jdrake
            • 9 years ago

            Oh boy…. Scott’s talking to himself again…

          • Ardrid
          • 9 years ago

          The problem is you didn’t call out the issues in a public forum at all. You simply make light of them and largely discount them. You don’t say anything about returning the phone if the issues aren’t resolved; rather, you only talk about the workarounds you have to go through and pass them off as acceptable solutions.

        • Ardrid
        • 9 years ago

        It has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing. There is a fundamental disconnect when someone with a substantial technological background, and knowledge of a product’s somewhat serious flaws, is willing to completely discount those issues and accept, what sounds like, piss-poor work arounds to make the product acceptably functional. You can’t see why it would be concerning that someone, who knows of a product’s problems before he purchases it, still decides to purchase said product and then complains when he runs into those problems?

        You flat out say the iPhone is a good device but sucks as a phone. Unless you’re going to tell me that you’re not using your smart*[

          • Damage
          • 9 years ago

          I tried to communicate, both on the podcast and in my response to you, that I find the problems I’ve described as entirely unacceptable. I’m not sure how you’ve missed that, but there it is: Apple needs to fix the proximity sensor and Bluetooth issues. I’m impatiently awaiting a fix and nervously eyeing the 30-day return window. I did not anticipate these problems when I made the purchase, or I wouldn’t have made it. Not sure what more you want.

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            Seriously, Scott… Why feed the trolls?

            • mcnabney
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t consider Ardid’s remarks to be trolling at all. He points out serious flaws in a popular phone. Flaws like these would have resulted in recommendations against purchasing if the device in question came from Dell, or HP, or Microsoft. Ardid makes valid complaints that the assessment is unfair on the surface since it appears that the choice of an Apple product is always recommended no matter what problems it has while competitors can be easily dismissed if they don’t offer a perfect product.

    • glynor
    • 9 years ago

    Great podcast as usual, everyone.

    I just wanted to comment regarding Scott’s thoughts on the iPhone 4 and the proximity sensor…

    I agree completely that the Proximity Sensor issue is a far more serious deal than the antenna issue ever was. I agree that the main reason the antenna thing got more press is that it was easier to demonstrate, and therefore easier to show on CNN and YouTube. And, I’ve also thought that it was likely that some issues people were blaming on the antenna in the press were actually proximity sensor issues and hitting the end call button accidentally. It does, however, vary quite dramatically from case to case, but I’m pretty sure now that it varies depending on the user, not the phone hardware. And that bodes well for a software fix…

    I’ve actually have only had the proximity sensor bug bite me once in the entire time I’ve had my iPhone 4 (since the day before the official release, because I won the FedEx lottery). It just happened for the first time to me last week (I muted a call with my face). However, a friend of mine who got his iPhone in the second wave has had TONS of problems. Just to test it out, we switched phones for a day, and I tried making a bunch of calls. Again, I had no problems, and he continued to have issues when using my hardware. It has to be the shape of our faces or skin tone or something. I’m pretty confident that they’ll fix the issue with the upcoming 4.1 release, but we’ll see…

    That said… In everyday usage, I almost NEVER actually hold the phone up to my face (except when I was intentionally testing the phone). I use my packed-in headphones for essentially all calls I make. I greatly prefer to keep the phone in my pocket (or mounted in my windshield holder) and use the headphones for calls.

    I don’t personally use a Bluetooth headset, but my dad does with his 3GS. He initially had the issue after the iOS 4 update, but was able to mitigate it somewhat by doing the “reset network settings” trick (which, incidentally, also fixed an issue with the 3GS connecting to my wife’s car stereo). However, this issue DOES affect both iPhone 4 and 3GS phones with the iOS 4 update, and I expect a software fix will also be forthcoming.

      • mcnabney
      • 9 years ago

      “I almost NEVER actually hold the phone up to my face”
      “I don’t personally use a Bluetooth headset”

      Sounds like you would never be impacted by the problems. Why the lengthy comment?

        • glynor
        • 9 years ago

        Read my comment. I test it extensively while holding it, on purpose.

        I commented because in the podcast, Scott commented that he wasn’t sure if this impacts everyone equally, if it only impacts certain handsets (which would indicate a hardware failure), or if it is only certain people.

        My test was only one data point, but it would seem the variable was the user, not the handset.

          • mcnabney
          • 9 years ago

          Since you were ‘testing it’ I am sure you were not handling the phone in any special way to maximize functionality? Not terribly scientific. The TR comments related to adapting special methods of handling to improve function and I am going to guess that you were doing the same for this one-day sample period.
          Also, who switches phones with someone? You would get each other’s calls and have each others apps/movies/music. Seems to be an odd thing to do.

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            No, probably not very scientific. Take it or leave it. We were at least partially convinced. We didn’t spend an extended amount of time testing though, so there certainly could have been other factors at play.

            I must admit, I did not expect the result. I thought for sure that there were differences between the handsets, and that I’d be able to reproduce the issue using his hardware. We thought we’d be able to give him ammunition to return the phone and get a new one.

            Oh, and… Learn how GSM works, my friend. There’s these things called SIM cards and a process called “backing up” and “restoring” a phone.

            PS. I should add… I might have seen the issue with my own phone a second time today. I had it in my pocket on my headphones, and it was “activating” touch-tone keypresses while I was on a call. That’s not really quite the same though.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    40:47 – 41:01 It’s a robot talking. lol

    • Aphasia
    • 9 years ago

    The concept of a home storage server depends on how you implement it. My main workstation is a large things, bit of noise, and draws about 160w even in idle. What it uses is a 300GB Velociraptor, the rest of my files reside on the fileserver as my primary large storage for everything.

    The file server I have is a full comp, buts quiet, draws less then 80w and still does everything I need it do. Integrated graphics, fanless motherboard except for the cpu-fan, etc. It’s always on, even when I’m away for longer periods of time.

    What does it do. 4 disk raid 5 system for the file serving, os disk, core 2 duo and 4gb’s of ram. On top of it being a file server, I use it for print server since it has a parallel port, it also runs TVersity and hence is a media server and serves FLAC to my reciever in the living room, photos, mkv and avi to my media able tv and xbox360.

    Last and certainly not least, it has a second nic coupled to my DMZ that is takes the load of a few virtual machines that runs a web and mail server for my domain.

    Nowdays some qnap NAS boxes can do some of it, but the price difference between a full comp and a qnap nas is rather slight. Been thinking of trying a NAS as seconday now when the file server is due for an update to trice or quad the space with new ram and a quad core.

    What it comes down to is you uses. If its only abit of diskspace, add an extra harddrive to you PC. Hosting a whole bunch of stuff that you want always on, as Scott said, it’s nice to have an always on system at hand.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 9 years ago

    This was a good podcast. Thanks.

    • Jonsey
    • 9 years ago

    Scott mentions that his friend had to mod his android phone to get pinch to zoom… android has had pinch to zoom for quite a while. When was the last time you guys used android, 1.6?

      • yokem55
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, I’m curious as to what android device they were looking at. My droid incredible has pinch to zoom with the stock firmware. The only mod I’m currently using is the excellent beta of the swype keyboard, which I doubt iDevices will ever have.

        • Darkmage
        • 9 years ago

        I’m curious which new features were “a mod” or just an application downloaded from the market. Cyanogen is a mod. Swype is just an app.

    • codedivine
    • 9 years ago

    About Larrabee, there is supposedly Intel “Many integrated core” thats supposedly a many-core x86 architecture (22nm, more than 50 cores) for HPC market that Intel says will come out next year. So that should also be a huge competitor to Tesla.

    §[<http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/2010/20100531comp.htm<]§ edit: Sorry, should also have linked the TR story: §[<https://techreport.com/discussions.x/19002<]§

    • codedivine
    • 9 years ago

    About the browsing experience, I must say that the default browser on the latest Android release (2.2/Froyo) beats the iphone’s safari in most rendering benchmarks so it should be the fastest. I therefore contest that mobile Safari is “unmatched” in anyway.

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      Faster doesn’t equal better. Especially when you’re only comparing JavaScript performance which has a tiny overall impact on total page rendering times. Scott’s entire point in that part of the discussion was that specs aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. UI matters far more than an 8-14% rendering speed improvement in certain JavaScript benchmarks. Things like tap-to-zoom and well-thought-out form entry UIs make a huge difference on a mobile device with a small screen.

      Also, you’re really comparing a released and available product in iOS 4’s Safari, to something that is only available to a tiny fraction of the Android market. They only just started delivering the OTA updates for a couple of handsets this week (which was well after the podcast was released), and the vast majority of handsets are still stuck on 2.1 or earlier.

      That said, the Froyo browser is certainly faster in most cases, occasionally dramatically so.

        • Darkmage
        • 9 years ago

        Agreed. I’m on Android 2.2 and the browsing experience is comparable with my iPod Touch’s browser. It’s close enough that I don’t really have a preference of one over the other. When Android went multitouch in the native applications, most of the significant differences between the browsers evaporated.

        It would be nice if Android had some prettier interface boxes, though. It’s jarring how ugly they are.

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