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Archive for Alex Watson

Will Boxee’s $6 million help make media PCs less rubbish?

Posted on 14th Aug 2009 at 08:17 by Alex Watson with 18 comments

Alex Watson
Last Friday we sent the latest issue of Custom PC off to the printers – and it’s back already, looking mean and moody with a water-cooled PC on the front – so it means this week I’ve been starting my tasks for the next issue. First up, the letters page, and I’ve just answered an interesting one about media PCs.

Specifically, why they’re rubbish – I had a long email from a reader detailing a pretty tortuous experience building and setting up a media PC. Despairingly, he’d turned to us to see if we could alleviate any of his misery.

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WIN: Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 3

Posted on 12th Aug 2009 at 13:23 by Alex Watson with 40 comments

Alex Watson
We’ve previewed one of Asus’ upcoming P55 boards, the P7P55 Deluxe, taking a look at its overall layout, heatsinks and ports. We recently had a chance to catch up with the Asus design team to talk about the board’s power management design.

The P7P55D features a new design – branded ‘hybrid phase’, which adds a ‘T.Probe’ chip to a 16-phase power design to provide increased reliability by actively managing the VRMs to keep temperatures under control.

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Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 2 Winners

Posted on 12th Aug 2009 at 08:25 by Alex Watson with 5 comments

Alex Watson
We were a little late getting week two’s Asus Xtreme Gaming Summit post up, but it still attracted lots of great comments answering the question: “What’s been the trickiest, most complex or most frustrating problem you’ve had when building a PC?”

We’ve been through the comments and picked our five favourite answers – all five win tickets
to the event on the 28th of August in London, and of course, snagging themselves some choice hardware to boot. As stated in the T&C’s, every winner gets £50 towards travel expenses, too.

Before we announce this week’s winners, a quick shout out to forum users Spiny and ffjason – you both won last week and have been PM’d details which you need to respond to! Get on it or your tickets will go to other people!

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WIN: Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 2

Posted on 7th Aug 2009 at 10:28 by Alex Watson with 32 comments

Alex Watson
Motherboard manufacturers have long published QVL (“Qualified Vendor List”) lists for their motherboards, listing the memory modules the board will work with. It’s a necessary step given the huge number of memory modules, and memory companies who make RAM, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only PC enthusiast who’s built a PC without taking the time to look at the QVL list.

If PC enthusiasts don’t pay particular attention to the QVL list, you can imagine how much attention it gets from less technical PC builders – about as much as a bog standard Storm Trooper at a Star Wars convention. Using memory that’s not on the QVL doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have problems, but it can result in numerous odd gremlins, or the system failing to boot.

So, what’s a motherboard manufacturer to do? Read on for Asus’ plan to save hasty PC builders from themselves.

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Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 1 Winners

Posted on 6th Aug 2009 at 17:54 by Alex Watson with 9 comments

Alex Watson
Week one’s Asus Xtreme Gaming Summit post got quite a response, and what’s more, there were some terrific ideas – if you’re interested in motherboards, the entire thread is well worth a read, with some really smart ideas about how motherboard design could be improved.

Both ourselves and Asus have been over the posts, and can announce the first five winners of the competition. Read on to find out which lucky bit-tech readers will be heading to the event on the 28th of August in London, and of course, snagging themselves some choice hardware to boot.

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WIN: Asus Xtreme Global Summit Competition Week 1

Posted on 28th Jul 2009 at 11:14 by Alex Watson with 54 comments

Alex Watson
By now you’ve hopefully read all about the Asus Xtreme GlobalSummit competition we’re running, and marvelled at the excellent selection of hardware prizes on offer. Unlike most of the competitions we’ve run in the past, this one adds interesting experience to the mix – firstly, there’s an afternoon in London talking with Asus’ R&D team, playing games and tinkering with the latest hardware.

It’s also about communication. Asus has a great reputation for the design and innovation that goes into its motherboards, and the firm is keen to get the opinions of real enthusiasts (hence the blogging/forum posting part of the competition), and to give you a peek behind the scenes of the design and development process. Read on to find out more, and for your chance to win one of the first five tickets for the event!

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Monkey Island released for iPhone and iPod

Posted on 23rd Jul 2009 at 10:30 by Alex Watson with 9 comments

Alex Watson
Before I leave the house each morning, I use my iPhone to check email - it's quicker to use my WiFi to download the message list than to try with spotty 3G on the train - and there was a message from Joe. He's just left for a well deserved long weekend on holiday. The message was titled: IMPORTANT.

He'd sent it at 7am this morning. Immediately, I wondered what was wrong.

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The Beatles Rock Band track list suggestions

Posted on 22nd Jul 2009 at 10:19 by Alex Watson with 8 comments

Alex Watson
Now that the new Monkey Islands are both upon us, there’s really only one game this year I’m looking forward to: The Beatles Rock Band, especially after the last round of previews hit the web.

Activision’s commitment to making endless new Guitar Hero titles with filler-packed track lists has meant I’ve skipped the last couple, and the botched UK launch of the original Rock Band (overpriced, too close to the sequel) means I don’t have that either, so September will be the perfect time for me to get back into music games.

Then there’s fact that it’s based on The Beatles, and they are, without doubt, my favourite band. This is not a hugely original statement– there would be no game if there weren’t a bazillion people who loved The Beatles – but they’re a band I can come back to over and over, finding comfort and surprise in the sound.

A game that lets me – with the musical prowess of the average breaded Halibut – pretend to be Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo is brilliant, especially when the music is inspiring a game that looks gorgeous and has had some thought go into it (as evinced by the amazing opening intro).

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New laptops at the Asus Lamborghini Event

Posted on 30th Jun 2009 at 11:19 by Alex Watson with 5 comments

Alex Watson
Last week we headed along to the Lamborghini dealership in South Kensington to pick up the keys to our new car check out Asus’ laptop line-up for the second half of 2009. Asus announced its first Lamborghini branded laptop, the VX1, back in 2005, and has been steadily producing computers tangentially related to supercars ever since, so the venue wasn’t completely inappropriate.

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If it isn’t Google, it isn’t search

Posted on 24th Jun 2009 at 12:19 by Alex Watson with 24 comments

Alex Watson
So there’s a new search engine called Bing. It’s made by Microsoft, and before it was Bing, it was Live Search, and before that Windows Live Search and MSN Search and... basically it’s been going since the Magna Carta, and since it’s not Google, 90% of people don’t care. But Microsoft does, and it wants you to. It’s really serious this time about taking on Google so it’s spending billions of dollars to make sure people stop Googling and start Binging. Steve Ballmer said Microsoft was “willing to spend five to ten percent of operating income for up to five years”. That’s serious cash.

A small slice of this moolah has fallen to us at bit-tech (we already spent it on Taiwanese beef jerky), but unlike a lot of ad campaigns, this one is interesting as Microsoft has been quite keen to know what we think, and what you, the readers think about search – specifically, the problems with it. If you do want to give your thoughts on search, we’re running a survey and you can win an Xbox 360 Elite.

It’s a difficult question, because, to be honest, my first answer was that I didn’t really have any problems with search. Google just works. There’s a reason that this is the answer given in many a forum thread.

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