07 June 1999 - Monday
Bump Mapping With DirectX 6 21:47 pm - Wilfred
Gamasutra has an article discussing the 'Ups & Downs' of Bump Mapping with DirectX 6. Here's a snippet:

You may be asking, "I’ve never used a modeling package – what is bump mapping?" First, I should explain that the way bump mapping is implemented under DirectX 6 is not what purists would call "real" bump mapping. If you asked Jim Blinn to tell you about bump mapping (and he would know, as he invented it), he would likely tell you it’s different than what I’m about to present. Blinn would tell you that bump mapping adds surface detail (bumpiness) to objects in 3D scenes, without adding more geometry than already exists. It does so by varying the lighting of each pixel according to values in a bump map texture.

FC-PGA 370 Pentium III To Come? 21:32 pm - Wilfred
EDTN has news that Intel is planning to release a new low-cost socketed version of its Pentium III processor. Check this!

Essentially, the new "FC-PGA 370" configuration is nothing more than a Pentium III in a low-cost socket, similar to the 370-pin pin grid array (PGA) socket used by Intel's low-cost Celeron microprocessor, according to sources close to Intel. Intel will use "flip-chip" technology to bond the die to the package.

Sources said the flip-chip design will allow new, thinner PCs to be developed, allowing for more creativity in designing a PC chassis. By contrast, a Pentium III will usually ship inside Intel's single-edge cartridge module, whose physical dimensions are considerably larger than the microprocessor inside it. In addition, the module is mounted vertically, perpendicular to the motherboard.

A 370-pin flip-chip version of Intel's 550- and 600-MHz Pentium III MPUs will be added in the fourth quarter, and a 650-MHz flip-chip Pentium III will be shipped in the first quarter of 2000, sources said. A 418-pin option is under consideration to handle faster speeds and multiprocessor capabilities, according to confidential roadmap documentation obtained by EBN. All flip-chip Pentium III microprocessors will use a 100-MHz system bus, at least at the outset.

Starwars Racer 15:16 pm - Kan
Looks like the Starwars craze will hit us for the next few days. FiringSquad also did a review on Starwars Racer and they had slapped the article with over 50 screenshots of the game.

This is definitely an arcade-style racing game. Little attention is paid to realistic detail: for example, it costs money to upgrade your pod, but you can destroy the entire thing as often as you want for free. It's all about getting into the action quickly, and finishing even faster. The focus is on plain and simple action; don't explore, don't use strategy, just go faster and win more!

SuSE 6.1 15:15 pm - Kan
CPUReview sent note on their SuSE 6.1 review. Hmm, how good is SuSE vs RedHat or Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 ? Read'em to find out more!

The inclusion of KDE, StarOffice 5, WordPerfect 8 and 60 days of installation support is prominently featured on the front of the box.

The right handed spine of the box shows the hardware requirements as well as listing the supported IDE and SCSI (including RAID) controllers, and video cards. A nice touch is the listing of unsupported video cards.

Labtec 2414 Speaker System 15:14 pm - Kan
Yup, this is another Labtec speakers review from Tech-Review. It only cost 50 bucks and comes with a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. Pretty cheap.

The satellites are comprised of 2" shielded Max-X drivers. Max-X is Labtec's name for what they describe as "High-excursion drivers for greater dynamic range, improved bass and lower distortion.".

The subwoofer is comprised of a 4" Max-X™ high-excursion subwoofer backed by 15 watts of power enclosed in a wooden case. Unfortunately the subwoofer is not shielded, so it is recommended that you keep it away from any electronic equipment.

Labtec 2632 Speaker System 15:09 pm - Kan
Another speakers review over at Upgrade Center with the Labtec 2632 Speaker System.

First, let me begin by saying what I change!  I remember my first set of speakers, they were a non-powered set which were about two inches high.  That was five years ago!  Times have changed haven't they?  Now we're dealing with powered 3-5 piece systems, some with enough power to be in your living room entertainment center.  I haven't gone that far just yet.  At this point I prefer the middle of the road, that's where the Labtec 2632 system comes in.  I realize I'm thinking ahead, but just let me say I thing these are the perfect speakers!

Creative Desktop Theater 5.1 15:07 pm - Kan
Our pals over at 3DsoundSurge just did a review on the Creative Desktop Theater 5.1. Pretty awesome stuff for your PC, though I prefer a more decent amp for my home TV.

With the arrival of DVD the interest of DD 5.1 has increased significantly and unlike those who own laser disc players or have a standalone DVD player in the living room, most computer owners doesn't want to spend $1000 on speakers. That's why Creative decided to put together a very inexpensive DD 5.1 system targeted at computer buyers, called Desktop Theater 5.1 (DTT 5.1). Featuring 5 watts and a dimension of 2.75" for each of the satellites, 15 watts and a dimension of 3.5" for the center channel and 15 watts for the subwoofer, the DTT 5.1 this system certainly has specs far below what most audiophiles would put in their living room. In this review we will find out if the system offers good sound for games, music and most importantly DVD movies. We will also look at how it compares with the AC-3 down mixing to 4 speakers that most software DVD decoders now supports.

Benwin BW2000 Flat Panel Speakers 10:21 am - Kan
AnandTech reviewed the Benwin BW2000 Flat Panel Speakers. The speakers look like some mousepad to me though. :)

Many have not heard of Benwin, and for good reason - they simply haven't been around all that long. Their US distributor, Kwong Quest, was founded just last year. Benwin really got people's attention at the Fall 1998 Comdex where they introduced what they claim to be "the world's first flat panel multimedia speakers." Really, Benwin was just the first to introduce this technology to the multimedia speaker market

Starwars Episode 1: Racer 10:08 am - Kan
We have another review of the game Starwars Episode1 over at Speedy3D.

You can choose from a number of pod racers, and a whole bunch of different characters taken directly from the movie. Among the more known few is Anikan skywalker, a.k.a. young darth vader. The pod racers, just like in the movie are no more then 2 giant engines connected to a pod seat through 2 long control cables. The engines are linked by a strong magnetic charge so that one engine does not go off in 1 direction, and the other in another.

Mechwarrior 3 Review 09:36 am - Wilfred
U-Games did a review on Mechwarrior 3. Yes, the reviewers had the usual high regards for Microprose's game. Here's snippets of the graphics and the AI. Raves!!!

During combat it again becomes clear that the sound and graphics capabilities of the game are exceptional. Each weapon has its own clearly distinct sound effect. Machine guns hum in a deep baritone and lasers singe the air. The tracer rounds of the Autocannon light up the sky and allow for immediate correction of one's aim. The vapor trails of outgoing missiles create a temporary haze that limits visibility. The only thing missing is the smell of the gun powder.

The AI of the enemy units is excellent. I was engaged in an ordinance duel with a smaller less armored enemy Mech and I had disintegrated most of its offensive capabilities. Rather than continue to stand toe to toe with me as he would have in MW II, he retreated. Bloodthirsty for the kill (and salvage) I followed. Unfortunately, he lead me within range of a heavily armored and distant long range missile platform that opened up and tore both my Mech's arms asunder.

Another Skywell Magic TNT2 09:32 am - Wilfred
The gurus posted a review on Skywell's Magic TNT2. As my previous experience with their Voodoo1 card, I was quite satisfied with the no frills/low cost and adequate performance delivered. How's the TNT2?

The Magic TNT2 is a pretty damn fast card ! Yes, it is not as fast as some other TNT2 based cards and could use a little bit tweaking. However, if you outrule this matter then you have an fast 2D/3D 32Bit, D3D/OpenGL, 2024x2024 texturemapping capable videocard at extremely high resolutions. As always it gives you some serious bang for your bucks.

Creative Savage4 Review 09:24 am - Wilfred
Sharky Extreme whipped up a review on the Creative Savage4 card. The low price of this card is really tempting me to go grab one! At S$182, this is half the price of the S$355 Creative TNT2 Ultra... but here's something the Sharks spewed, any truth in it? Check it out!

Unfortunately, due no doubt to the extreme testing procedures that Creative Labs performs on all of their products prior to release (heavy sarcasm here) the 3D Blaster Savage4 is set at a default speed of just 110MHz. Pardon?

110MHz…Wasn't that the speed of video cards that debuted six months ago? Who dropped the ball here? Even relatively conservative Diamond Multimedia set their Savage4Pro-based product at a default level of 125MHz.

We can only speculate that in order to keep their profit margins high on a $100 product that Creative has cut a deal with S3 to take what we call the "slop yield" on the Savage4Pro. This means that the chips that fail to sustain 125MHz as tested by S3 at the fab plant are being sold to Creative at a discount price versus the Savage4Pros being sold to other OEMs.

Direct RDRAM Vs PC133 09:09 am - Wilfred
iXBT Labs has a writeup on Direct RDRAM Vs PC133. You can read about the background, history and technologies involved in these two RAM types. Which of them will be found in your desktop?

It is the memory that became the subject of our discussion because this year you will hardly be wondering about the chipset of your mainboard while deciding on this or that one. The only question you will be asking - What about the memory? Both: i820 and Apollo Pro Plus have the same features and the only though significant difference between them is the supported memory spec. That's why when you make up your mind to buy a mainboard the point for your concern will be the choice between Direct Rambus DRAM or PC133/PC266 SDRAM. And then having decided on the memory you will choose the board without any difficulty. So, our initial intention to compare Apollo Pro Plus and i820 turned into PC133/266 and Direct RDRAM comparison.

06 June 1999 - Sunday

Skywell Magic TNT2 21:43 pm - Wilfred
Systemlogic posted a review on the Skywell Magic TNT2 32Mb card. From their tests, it was found that this is not for the overclocker. Nope, they are not impressed with this showing.

We found that the Skywell Magic TNT2 did not live up to TNT2 standards.  We were expecting a well built card and a significant performance increase.  Unfortunately the 150Mhz clock speed did not enable this card to perform nearly as well as other TNT2 cards.  It could barely compete with the Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor which featured only 16 Megabytes of RAM.  Though the Magic TNT2 is a well built card and does perform relatively better than the TNT, other TNT2 based cards significantly outperform it.  With the low clock speed, and an onboard fan, there is room for some overclockability.  We did not recieve any information on pricing for this card, so cannot say if it is a good buy.  But if you're a real hardcore gamer you should opt for another TNT2.

TSW2 Formula Review 21:38 pm - Wilfred
GameWire reviewed the Thomas Super Wheel 2 Formula - a budget, non-force-feedback, driving wheel. No frills... but issit for you?

My times have not improved much with this steering wheel, but my tires are wearing a lot less, lasting 3 or more laps in NASCAR 1999, which can, and has, won me races in a hotly contested race. It is very hard to describe the wheel, but it is a vast improvement over other wheels. While it doesn't have force feedback, I have heard that most force feedback is pretty bad, and the best thing about them is that they are more precise in steering, but not comfortable like this wheel.

Poll #16: Who Has The Nicest Butt? 21:35 pm - Wilfred
Who has the nicest butt? Cameron Diaz won by a convincing margin. Whew! It's NOT Kan. Thankfully! But I don't like this poll at all, it hasn't got my name inside. Not fair. Not fair. Not fair. Now who's calling me fat-ass?!!!

YuanTech 3DXtreme Riva TNT 21:35 pm - Wilfred
Does this sound completely foreign to you? It was to me. Terry of Hardware Extreme sent word of their review on this TNT card.

All in all, the Yuan 3DXtreme 16MB Riva TNT graphics card is a good buy today if you're looking for good business 2D and moderate 3D (moderate yes ! - TNT2s are just on the horizon) considering you can pick one up for around $100 - $120 currently and with prices dropping further, TNT based cards will soon drop in price and will be replaced with upcomming graphics chipsets from 3dfx such as the Voodoo 3 and nVidia's followup - the TNT2.

3D Basics 12:07 pm - Kan
FiringSquad posted a guide to 3D Basics. First part of the guide covers stuffs such as the the different elements that are used in graphics to the difference in color depths. They also talked about alpha blending, dithering etc.

The resolution of your display refers to number of pixels your screen is able to display. A 800 x 600 resolution displays 800 pixels in each horizontal line, and 600 pixels in each vertical column for a total of 480,000 pixels. In contrast, a higher resolution of 1600 x 1200 displays 1,920,000 pixels. Wait, does this mean that a screen with a 1600 x 1200 resolution will be 4 times bigger than a screen with an 800 x 600 resolution? No, not exactly. The size of your display will remain the same, but it will have 4 times the detail.

Castlewood Orb Drive 10:36 am - Kan
Super7.net posted a review on the Castlewood Orb drive. This is a removable drive with a 2.2 GB ORBit disk, which is enough to store 204 minutes of CD music or few hundreds of MP3s.

ORB disks can be used in a wide variety of applications requiring the use of large amounts of digital data, including content authoring, like CAD/CAM, graphic design, publishing and multimedia presentations, and editing of content, like music and video. Information technology (IT) markets are expected to use ORB drives as a way to easily and quickly increase PC storage, and for backing up employee files and digital electronic sales via Web sites.

Castlewood offers the Orb drive in just about any available interface you can think of. Internal SCSI and IDE drives, and external SCSI, Parallel and USB drives are all available and while my experience is limited to the internal IDE interface, I can easily say that I am very pleased and impressed with the Orb drive's performance.

Elsa 3D Revelator Stereo Glasses 10:32 am - Kan
Our sweet buds over at Dimension X did a review on the Elsa 3D Revelator Stereo Glasses

If you decide to buy the 3D REVELATOR glasses, then you must either own an Elsa card or buy one with the glasses. That's a major set back in my mind. You do get your choice of the Erazor II (Riva TNT), Erazor III (Riva TNT2), Winner II (S3 Savage 4), or the Victory II (3dfx Banshee) for your graphic card, but most games want the best 3D card out there.

QDI First Dual Processor Slot-1 Interface 10:29 am - Kan
Here's the full press-release from QDI on the first dual processor Slot 1 interface motherboard. 

Legend QDI, one of the world’s largest PC motherboard manufacturers, today announced the launch of TwinMagic, the first dual processor motherboard on slot 1 interface at Computex ’99 Taiwan.  Legend QDI is the first to offer dual processor capabilities supporting dual Intel Celeron PPGA 370 CPU interface for personal computers.  This innovation offers a substantial increase in performance at a competitive price.

Legend QDI has incorporated dual processor technology onto its TwinMagic demonstrating its commitment to providing the most advanced products.  Legend QDI is the first to offer a dual processor motherboard in anticipation of the development of this market.     

Q3Test Strategy/Tips 10:21 am - Kan
ComputingPros did a Q3Test Strategy/Tips guide to teach you how to get more frags. Remember, always kill newbies. :)

One of the first things you'll notice when you play with others in DeathMatch is Q3T's visual help in identifying who you're looking at. It actually will put the user's name above their character. The other cool feature is the talk icon that goes above you if you decide to chat during gameplay. Although I'm sure it's meant as a means of playing fair by not shooting people who are in the middle of typing along with positive proof that you were typing and not camping, you can use it to your advantage. It's a dead giveaway for an easy kill.

Hardware Crystal Ball 10:17 am - Kan
Over at The Sanctum, the babes updated their monthly Hardware Crystal Ball. Stuffs they recommend for this month include the Pentium III 550 Mhz as well as the IBM Ultrastar 9LZX. *drool*

IBM's Storage Division is one of the best around. It's drives are built around quality and bring you the speed you need to run today's applications and programs with ease. It's U2W interface brings data across at 10,020RPM and with a 4MB buffer cache it makes other drives look like ancient fossils. If you crave speed and work with audio and video this is your drive. Sure it's only around 9GB, but we feel this is perfect for most users. While SCSI isn't for everyone it's still faster then everything else and that's all that matters. Coupled with Adaptec's 2940U2W controller you too can bring the Daytona 500 to your home or work.

The Phantom Menace 10:15 am - Kan
Gee, the buds over at ActiveWin did a review on the game The Phantom Menace. Anyway, if you haven't seen this movie yet, you should! It's good.

The game begins in the same place as it does in the movie, on a Trade Federation battleship. You take the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first level as you work alongside Qui-Gon to escape from the clutches of the battle droids. The game gets off to a good start as you walk into a corridor full of Battle Droids and then you fight them off with your extremely cool lightsaber, the John Williams soundtrack booms into action. Your lightsaber cannot only cut your enemy to shreds but it can also deflect off laser shots and fire them back at the enemy. You can also use your Force Push to "Push" the battle droids onto the ground and then finish them off with a few lightsaber swings. The rest of the opening level has you opening a series of doors and switches before you can complete it by flying off to Naboo.

Yamaha YST Speaker Technology 01:04 am - Wilfred
3DSoundSurge has a press release of Yamaha's newly patented YST speaker technology. Catch the blast here!

Yamaha Corporation of America, Consumer Products Division, announces another leap forward in greatly improving bass performance in small-format computer and multimedia speakers. With the introduction of Advanced YST, Yamaha's exclusive new patented technology, smaller-size speaker systems can now deliver unparalleled sonic performance and accuracy, superior to that of much larger and more expensive speaker packages. Yamaha's new MS50 and MS55D powered multimedia speaker systems are the first to feature this groundbreaking technology. "The MS50 and MS55D are perfect examples of how Advanced YST delivers a satisfying, full-range, audio experience from smaller speaker enclosures,"

New CL-Unified Drivers 01:00 am - Wilfred
Saw at Voodoo Extreme a link to a new release of Creative's Unified drivers. You may want to visit the link right here.

MechWarrior 3 Review 00:57 am - Wilfred
PC.IGN did a review on Microprose's MechWarrior 3. Your former crazy editor Yingzong completed this game in 1 day. Nuts!

Unlike the previous 'Mech games, when you take a hard hit in MechWarrior 3 you don't just see a burst of light and continue to move at top speed. MechWarrior 3 attempts to accurately simulate damage (well, as accurately as you can portray something that's set over 1,000 years in the future) so, if you get an arm blown off, you'll see a mass of twisted metal and dangling wires hanging from your shoulder. You'll even see your ripped appendages on the battlefield.

Hardware Extreme Extravaganza 00:52 am - Wilfred
I've exaggerated a little here but HE is back with a fresh new look as well as 3 new reviews on the following:
ABIT ZM6 Review, Tekram P6B40D-A5 Dual PII / PIII Mainboard and the Shuttle HOT649A Dual PII / PIII Mainboard

Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM Drive 00:47 am - Wilfred
Voodoo Prophecy did a review on the acclaimed Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM drive. This is the drive I will get if I'm into PC-DVDs today.

The Pioneer 303s is a 6X DVD-Rom Drive with 32X CD-Rom compatibility.  This is one of the highest rated DVD-Rom's out today, so I'd thought I'd see what all the fuss was about. First obvious thing unique about this drive is that it handles discs thru a slot insert mechanism.  Not only is this feature neat looking, it may also be better for your CD and DVD discs.  There's no tray for it to sit on so the drive cannot be blamed for scratching your precious DVD movies or favorite music CD's.  It's your own fault if you get drunk and start chucking them around the house.  The slot itself has a brush-like shield thing to keep the dust out of the drive and brush off the dust of every disc you insert into the drive.

05 June 1999 - Saturday

Dual Celerons Board? 14:31 am - Kan
Thanks to Uncle Loong for this link. What you see here is no slotket for your Celerons. Seen during Computex 99, this is a dual Celeron Socket 370 board from QDI called TwinMagic which allows you to run dual-processors under your existing Slot1 motherboard. Hmm, sounds a bit amazing. Catch all the juice right here!

The Phantom K7 11:50 am - Kan
Nope, not The Phantom Menance, but the Phantom K7 which SharkyExtreme reported on their last day at Computex 99.

As we said in our last report, we've seen a working K7 (a good thing indeed) and were left optimistic about the performance. Once again, the worries seem to sit firmly with AMD's track record for not being able to deliver. It didn't exactly inspire us with confidence when virtually all (apart from the three mentioned above) the Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers revealed that they currently did NOT have a Slot-A based product in the works. Even if the second round of OEMs were to get in on the act today, the market still won't be awash with Slot-A based mainboards.

SuperCool to a Gigahertz 11:48 am - Kan
HardwareCentral posted a massive 15 pages article on supercooling your processor and breaking the Gigahertz barrier.

Simply put, a CPU is made out of a silicon substrate: a wafer, on which layers of metal, used as conductors, and metal oxides, used as isolators, are doped to create the circuitry. At some points intersects are made between the layers through the silicon, that thereby can be made to function as a semi-conductor, mostly in the form of a transistor. There are millions of them in your average CPU.

The process used to make today’s CPU’s is known as the CMOS, Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology. One of the characteristics of semiconductors made with this process is that they tend to become more efficient if we lower their operating temperature.

AOpen MX3ZA i440ZX 11:39 am - Kan
More motherboard madness over at AnandTech with the review of the AOpen MX3ZA i440ZX motherboard. This is a microATX Socket-370 motherboard with a FSB supporting up to 150 MHz.

The Rage Pro Turbo get its own bank of 8MB 100MHz SDRAM, so no memory and performance sapping unified memory architecture here. That 8MB should be plenty to handle most 2D tasks. ATI's Rage Pro Turbo is a tried and true chipset, with drivers available for just about any operating system, including Linux, BeOS, and OS/2. Of course for Windows gaming, the Rage Pro Turbo still lacks a really good OpenGL ICD.

The onboard ESS Solo-1 is a PCI based solution that does a good job at providing basic audio functionality. CPU utilization is low thanks to the PCI interface. AOpen also wisely made the sound only take up one IRQ, unlike some other solutions featuring the same chip that take two. Unfortunately, that IRQ is the same one taken by the USB controller, whose IRQ cannot be disabled.

Aliens vs Predator 11:39 am - Kan
Quakers over at QuakeCity did a first impression on the game Aliens vs Predator

The alien's visual enhancements include "hunt mode", which looks much like a light enhancer(night vision). As the alien, you can scale any surface to sneak up on your prey, and take their heads off to gain energy. This is tough, and might even be a drawback unless there are a lot of campers in the game. You must get close enough for you jaws to retract, then hit primary fire to remove the prey's head. This is the only source of energy for the alien, and in a fast-paced DM game, you stand little chance. The marine has typical "space-marine" gear and power-ups.

Unreal Tournament Preview 10:26 am - Wilfred
PlanetUnreal has posted a preview of Unreal Tournament they caught running in the offices of Epic. You should hear this:

I was floored. The quantity and quality of the content just blew me away. If Epic plays their cards right (free advanced copies for server operators, etc) and continue to work on their net play performance, this will be an awesome online game.

Microsoft Afraid Of Sony 10:17 am - Wilfred
According to this report at PSX Nation, Microsoft is taking even the Sony Playstation 2 as a potential threat to its dominance.

"Microsoft unquestionably cares about anything that would reduce the demand for the PC operating system,'' Fisher said. Lacovara presented several exhibits to show that Microsoft faces competition from a host of new portable information devices in the next few years, such as 3Com Corp.'s Palm Pilot hand-held computer, and from the potential transformation of the Sony Playstation's powerful chip into a serious computer.

Teac 6X/ 24X SCSI CDR 10:12 am - Wilfred
GameWire posted a review on the 6X/24X Internal SCSI CDR drive from Teac. You should definitely go for a CDRW drive these days with their plummeting prices and increasing performance.

I have burned 26 successful CDs and 0 bad CDs. If that isn’t reliability, then I do not know what is. Remember, SCSI devices offer a better throughput ratio so as to transfer data to the CD with a bigger cushion for possible errors. The throughput is larger and more stable, which allows for the perfect burning that I have witnessed so far. Along with the ratio, the drive comes with a 2 MB buffer that again allows for more accurate and faster burning. As for speed, the Teac suffers a little. In the age of the 8x writer, this 6x drive seems a little under powered.

Bowzer 0.60 Released 10:09 am - Wilfred
Scott mailed to say that he's released v0.60 of his freeware online game browser - Bowzer. You can grab it here.

A Little More MS-DOJ Juice 04:14 am - Wilfred
I don't normally read the ongoing trial but since they mentioned my old flame, OS/2, I found it hard not to post anything. Here's some scandal heard in the courts:

Microsoft wanted $75 from IBM for Windows 95 - a very high price - but was willing to offer some discounts in an MDA. Microsoft offered an $8 reduction if IBM agreed to "restrict, limit or delay shipping OS/2".

Additional reductions were offered if IBM ramped-up Windows 95 shipments to 50 per cent of PC shipments in 60 days, but IBM was unable to meet the requirements and thought they were over-optimistic on Microsoft's part. Close analysis of the Norris' deposition transcript shows uncertainty as to whether a decision was in fact made and implemented to squash OS/2, in order to take advantage of an $8 discount for Windows 95. No doubt there will be further evidence about this when Norris is examined and cross-examined. Many OS/2 developers and users have felt betrayed at the sudden change in IBM policy towards OS/2. Many feel that it was a moment of infamy: but we now know that eight pieces of silver were offered, and probably taken.

Norris negotiated the agreement for a Windows 95 licence, with a further $7 of discounts agreed in mid-1995. The first draft of a Windows 95 licensing agreement was received by IBM around the time Norris took up his new appointment. IBM did not commit wholeheartedly to Windows 95 at the time - probably as a negotiating tactic, although some IBMers might have thought that OS/2 could compete with Windows 95. The agreement was finally signed 15 minutes before Windows 95 was launched, on 24 August 1995.

So this was one of the many reasons that led to the downfall of my once favourite OS, just when I thought it picked up some steam against Windows?

We Are Monitored! 03:57 am - Wilfred
If it is not a hoax, then this article is pretty worrisome - just mailed a mushy letter to my girlfriend! Dammit! The snippets from the story:

Australia has become the first country openly to admit that it takes part in a global electronic surveillance system that intercepts the private and commercial international communications of citizens and companies from its own and other countries. The disclosure is made today in Channel 9's Sunday program by Martin Brady, director of the Defence Signals Directorate in Canberra.

Mr Brady's decision to break ranks and officially admit the existence of a hitherto unacknowledged spying organisation called UKUSA is likely to irritate his British and American counterparts, who have spent the past 50 years trying to prevent their own citizens from learning anything about them or their business of "signals intelligence'' - "sigint'' for short.

Together with the giant American National Security Agency (NSA) and its Canadian, British, and New Zealand counterparts, DSD operates a network of giant, highly automated tracking stations that illicitly pick up commercial satellite communications and examine every fax, telex, e-mail, phone call, or computer data message that the satellites carry.

The five signals intelligence agencies form the UKUSA pact. They are bound together by a secret agreement signed in 1947 or 1948.

ATI Rage Fury 128 03:50 am - Wilfred
This is my first posting after the break. First in my mailbox is CRUS's review on the ATI Rage Fury 128 card. Not the most stellar of cards released lately, but probably still worth a look.

To sum things up, the Rage128 offers great features and acceptable performance, but unfortunately it’s a little bit late to the marked to compete with newer cards such as the TNT2, Voodoo3 or the G400. But the Rage128 offers a truly viable alternative to the nVidia TNT, with similar performance but with better DVD hardware decoding capabilities, but it comes at a slightly higher price.

Wilfred Returns To Cough 03:30 am - Wilfred
Howdie! I'm back to the editing business after my Melbourne trip. Quite an exhilarating experience going on a free-&-easy tour. Oh well, I was back more than 24hrs ago but it sure took me a long time to catch up on lost time with Hardware-One. All the news and development when I was away...

Thanks to good pal (except when he calls me Fishman!) Yingzong for doing such an incredible job covering my 'duties' and of course Mr Kan for his undying endurance.... heh heh!


04 June 1999 - Friday

Pricing and Upgrade Guide 21:43 pm - Kan
FiringSquad sent note on their new article Pricing and Upgrade Guide. This will be a regularly updated article talking about the most kick-ass products available in the market.

However, even when it comes to hardcore hardware, price is always an object. Sure you can go out and spend tens of thousands of dollars on workstation-class processors and RAID configurations, just for that extra 5% increase in general productivity and gaming performance, but I'll bet I can count the number of people who do that can be counted 10 fingers.

This isn't saying that the best hardware comes cheap, mind you. If you want 100fps, you're still going to have to pay for it. Hopefully, this guide will help you decide what's worth investing in, and what's just going to be burning a whole in your pocket. There's nothing worse than having something you can't take advantage of, and watching it depreciate at industry speed!

Starwars Review 10:42 am - Kan
Not your usual hardware/software reviews, but Singularity posted a review on Starwars: The Phantom Menace. I just caught the movie yesterday and it's good!

Well, nevermind, the way of a true Jedi is doing what you feel is right - and the Force is now telling me to catch the first screening on opening night. I bought my tickets at around 8 pm, and literally camped at Tampines Mall from 8 to 12 am - reading, eating, walking around, all hyped up in anticipation of the show. During the wait I bumped into one of my female friends (actually my Church cell group leader) and she looked incredulous when she knew I'm watching the show alone at mid-night. Another one weak in the Force! My mind control attempt to ask her to watch it with me didn't work on her though..looks like it's back to more training for me in the Way.

Kan Yawns 10:26 am - Kan
Finally I can do some yawning. Fishman (where the hell did he get this name??) is back and I can finally catch up with some beauty sleep (miss 'em quite a lot). Talking about the porn industry, they are probably the most lucrative out there. Remember, they get more hits than most hardware reviews sites out there. :)

Yingzong Sees and Sez 10:25 am - Yingzong
Hey people, checkout what my bud and I saw two days ago in a cybercafe in town; The both of us were walking towards the bus stop when I noticed this dude using one of the Acer rigs to surf the Net using ADSL. Always interested in what people are surfing nowadays, I leaned towards the window for a closer look. Guess what I saw? Holy crap! This dude was surfing por.. err, I mean "objectionable material" like he was reading his daily paper! He was expressionless and cool-looking, with a look that didn't the least bit betray what he was doing! Now that's a talent for our local soccer league!

Anyhow, your favourite editor Wilfred is back! Yes, fishman is back from Australia and will be updating the news and reviews for you very soon. So for now, brown cows, ciao and all the best!

New Midtown Madness Map 10:20 am - Yingzong
Got this over from Midtown Madness Online. Seems that Angel Studios has sent them a new map for Midtown Madness. For those road rage fanatics, visit this page and bookmark it 'cos more updates and goodies are coming up soon too. Here's the word on the
streets :

This is a small cops and robbers level that we made to use for a small group of people playing (works great up 8 also). It's made specifically for multiplayer games, but you can select it to cruise around and "get the lay of the land -- if you know what I mean!"

Quantum Atlas 10,000 RPM Hard Drive 08:47 am - Kan
Another 10,000 RPM hard drive review over at StorageReview. Seems like SCSI hard drives are slowly moving up to the 10,000 RPM range while EIDE hard drives are moving up to the 7,200 RPM range.

In usage with our testbed's Adaptec 2940U2W SCSI host adapter, I ran into problems getting the drive detected on the LVD (U2W) segment of the controller. The drive would appear just fine when attached to the UW segment. After much hair pulling, a Quantum applications engineer determined that the 2940U2W had to be "hard terminated." In other words, setting host adapter termination in the BIOS (sufficient for every LVD drive thus far) was not enough: a jumper physically located just beneath the LVD connector had to be shunted. Isn't new technology great? ATA-66 and Ultra160/m both arrive, both (supposedly) completely backwards compatible, yet these problems crop up. 

Soyo PW-9801 Mini-Notebook Review 08:44 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme posted the Soyo PW-9801 Mini-Notebook review. Now, one of the most important things when purchasing a notebook is the size. A 3kg notebook will weigh like 10kg at the end of the day.

Mini-notebooks have got to be one of the most "neck-snap" inducing items a person can carry onto a plane for a long flight. Passengers' heads whip around and look slack jawed as you not only power up the unit free from an external battery, but the drool really drips in high volumes when they see the true-blue Win98 splash screen appear in perfect color.

This isn't one of those limited MS "Jupiter" devices running the handicapped Windows CE, this is the real McCoy baby.

ASUS V3800 TVR TNT2 08:42 am - Kan
AnandTech also took a look at the ASUS V3800 TVR TNT2 graphics card with TV capture and In/Out capabilities. 

The Chrontel chip has been used by ASUS as well as Canopus in the past and does make for excellent TV output. To build on the feature set, ASUS included composite (RCA) as well as S-Video output connectors for the sake of convenience. The TV-out mode is set via a jumper on the board (JP1) that allows the user to select either NTSC or PAL TV-out depending on their video standard. Going along with the TV-out theme is a unique feature on the V3800 board, the presence of a S-Video input for video capturing. Once seemingly a feature only Canopus would ever bring to the eyes of the gamer, ASUS decided to capitalize on a market that exists but isn’t really addressed by most graphics vendors. In a world where the lowest price usually takes the gold, it’s nice to know that ASUS strives to achieve a balance between quality/features and an affordable price.

Elsa Erazor II 08:39 am - Kan
More TNT reviews floating around. High Performance PC Guide reviewed the Elsa Erazor II TNT graphics card.

The software bundle coming with this graphic card seems to be the same than the Erazor II version as both drivers as well as drivers for several other Elsa graphic cards are included on this CD. Other than the drivers, the applications included on this CD, are: Microsoft DirectX 6, Elsa Winman suite, Microsoft Media Payer, Intel Indeo 5 nmedia player and an offline Elsa WWW browser. There is also a directory on the CD named Elsaware where you can find and install several other application demo such as: 3DMax2, Autocad 13 and 14, Allplan, DosTools, Elsa View 3D for Win NT, Guardian, LogoCad and many other various applications to name only these ones. An Acrobat version of the users manual can also be found as well as the Acrobat Reader of course.

Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra 08:34 am - Kan
FiringSquad just finished their review on the first batch of production Hercules Dynamtic TNT2 Ultras. So, how fast is it when the memory speed is pushed to 220 MHz? Read the review to find out more!

The TNT2 Ultra reference specification originally called for 175MHz core speed and 200MHz memory speed. However, this specification was slightly modified to the current spec of 150MHz core and 183MHz memory speeds. It was speculated that both TNT2 chip yields and 5.5ns memory yields spawned this decision by nVidia. As a possible "save face" move by nVidia, they encouraged hardware manufacturers to explore various settings for their respective cards. As a result, the TNT2 market is flooded with cards coming with different clock speeds. In addition to the different features such as TV-out, and video in and out that manufacturers are offering, the TNT2 market is all the more confusing.

Slot-1 Motherboards Massive Roundups 08:30 am - Kan
Our pals over at Review Zone posted a massive Slot-1 motherboards roundup. This is a whopping 24 pages review covering 14 motherboards. Catch all the live action there!

We’ve said this before (and we’ll say it again), but the motherboard is not only one of the most important components of any system but also one of the components least often recognized as such. When was 
the last time someone came up to you and bragged about their really cool motherboard, as opposed to, to pick an entirely random example, their new processor or their new graphics card or sound card? You could think of this as a case of missing the wood for the trees, since your motherboard is literally the most fundamental part of your computer in that everything else connects to it, directly or indirectly. That also means, however, that it is your motherboard that determines what exactly you can chuck into your computer. Nowadays, nobody builds a system without allowing for future upgradability as best as possible- and nothing will matter so much in deciding the limits of your future upgradability as your choice of motherboard.

Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Press Release 08:27 am - Kan
Systemlogic sent note on the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 press-release. You can get 7 different TNT2 cards from them, including 3 TNT2 Ultra. 

Hercules Computer Technology, Inc. today announced the Hercules Dynamite TNT2, integrating the NVIDIA RIVA TNT2® graphics processor, a 300MHz DAC, and up to 32MB of ultra fast SDRAM.  The Hercules Dynamite TNT2 is the highest performing graphics board in its class, with retail models guaranteed to operate at a blistering 145MHz engine clock and 170MHz memory clock.  Hercules’ superior board design and software support in conjunction with an active cooling fan assures outstanding performance and stability.  For added value, the Hercules HercuMeter overclocking utility will be included for even further performance enhancement.   Initial shipments begin the second week of June, with the 16MB retail model starting as low as $149.99.  The rollout of the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 completes Hercules’ high-end line of graphics accelerators.

ATI Rage 128GL 08:25 am - Kan
DemoNews posted a review on the ATI Rage 128GL All-In-Wonder graphics card. Is it really that wonderful? Read their review to find out!

All-In-Wonder 128 is the latest in an award-winning series of products. Powered by world-leading RAGE 128 graphics technology, it provides stunningly fast 3D graphics, DVD video playback, still and motion video capture, Intelligent TV-Tuner, Instant Replay, Digital VCR with MPEG-2 video compression, Video-out, and much more.

All these features on one card makes it big. Not that BIG but it's big for a graphic card if you know what I mean. The AIW is a card that could be the number one buy for person who looks for a card with great support video and multimedia. This review will not cover technical information. What is written in this review is the stuff that interested me while doing the testing of the card.

03 June 1999 - Thursday

Interview 19:00 pm - Kan
Hey dudes! Check out our caffine pals Tech-Junkie's interview with Brad Dosland, chief editor of MaximumPC on the wackiest stuffs under the sun. 

Tj: What's with the Kick Ass award? Why didn't you guys settle for something more "politically correct" such as "Editor's Choice" or "Big Daddy's Pick"?

BD: From the start, we wanted the voice in the magazine to be more like the way we talked in real life. We wanted to escape the canned language in other mags and express the excitement we earnestly felt about the subject matter. If something sucked, we wanted to say it outright. If something rocked, we were going to say it loud and clear. "Kick Ass" captured our sentiment as far as the best-of-the-best went and we had the cajones to go with it. We haven't looked back since. Some recipients have been timid about using the accolade on their packaging, but that's OK. We would rather be affiliated with gutsy gear anyway.

FrontPage 2000 Review 18:58 pm - Kan
Probably the software I hate to use, but can't do without it. :) ActiveWin posted a review on Microsoft's latest web editing software, FrontPage 2000.

To begin, FrontPage 2000 lets you create your own FrontPage Web on your hard drive. By clicking on File - New - Web you get a tab like the one below. For personal users who would like to create say a homepage, you just click on the Personal Web option and the FrontPage 2000 wizard guides you through the next few phases to setup a web on your PC, the web will include a folder of images, photos and a starting page for you to work on. For those of us who feel like can do pretty much all of this by themselves just click on the One Page Web and take it from there.

Introduction to LiteStep 18:55 pm - Kan
Our WooHoos <tm> pals over at ArsTechnica had an Introduction to LiteStep article. LiteStep is a shell replacement for Windows which resembles the famous NeXTSTEP desktop. Sick of the Windows interface? Well, I am.

Explorer consists of nearly everything that you see/use. From the Start button to the windows that open up, these are all Explorer.exe. Explorer is the "shell" that you use to interface with Windows. What LiteStep does is replace the Explorer.exe shell with LiteStep.exe. Is this better? More "user friendly"? Faster? Not necessarily, in all cases. Is it cooler? Does it impress your friends and neighbors? Will it make your computer pretty much unusable to others? Yes, it will.  Can it turn your bland, English-style cuisine into quality Turkish cooking?  Caesar thinks so.

Liveware 2 18:50 pm - Kan
Here it is! 3DsoundSurge sent note on their LiveWare 2.0 review. Hmm, I love my SB Live! :)

Environmental presets are fixed environmental settings that can be applied to those applications that do not support the Environmental Audio Extensions (termed legacy titles)  First off, this should really be described as 30 new environmental audio presets as we were starting with 50.   These new presets present something immediate for users and the effects have a very nice "wow" factor.  It's one of those things that you can do to impress people about your PC. Changing your voice from male to female (or vice versa), a chipmunk or Zeus in real time is sure to garner attention from your friends. The selection of caves, caverns, pipes, etc. are also nice to add to some legacy title. This feature impacts on more than games as the presets can be applied to music, voice, etc. On its own, this is not an earth shattering upgrade but all the small things will start to add up. 

Interview 18:47 pm - Kan
Gamers' Crypt posted an interview with Timothy Gerritsen on their current project RUNE.

RUNE will be using the UNREAL game engine. What was it about the UNREAL game engine that enticed you the most? Were there other game engines (either in production or in development) that you considered at the time? What made you choose to use a pre-built game engine rather then develop one in-house?

We originally picked up the Unreal engine because we signed on with Ion Storm to do Daikatana 2. We really got into the meat of the engine while we were ramping up into design phase, and found that it to be a solid engine that was easily adaptable to what we wanted to do. Unfortunately, Daikatana 2 just didn't happen. Eidos and Ion decided, rightly in our opinions, that they shouldn't split focus when the first game wasn't done, and decided to put off the sequel. We really respect John and the gang in Dallas, so we were disappointed that we wouldn't be working with them again (John was the producer for some of the Raven games), but this sort of thing happens, and we would definitely like to team up again when it makes sense to do so.

Anyway, the guys also posted some Q3Test screenshoots captured at 1024x768x32 with everything turned on.

Guillemot Phoenix 2 18:45 pm - Kan
We have a Guillemot Phoenix 2 review over at TNT2.net. The Phoenix 2 is based on the nVidia Vanta chipset which is designed for low-budget users.

The Good: This board comes in an AGP architecture, which is keeping up with today’s advancing computers. The image quality of the board is far superior to most video boards in its class. Compared with the Banshee 16MB video board, the image quality is about the same (for the same price). 1920x1080, maximum resolution, is very good for a low-budget gamer. The price is also a definite plus on this board.

The Bad: The 8MB of RAM is not up to the day’s standards. The board also lacks the superior speed of having 16MB or 32MB of video memory, therefore games run a couple of frames per second less than a higher RAM capacity board.

Pentium III Glitch Hangs 810 Chip 14:25 pm - Yingzong
Got news from ZDNet that Intel's new 810 chip can't work with the Pentium III. Shouldn't be much of a problem to the computer community as the 810 is targeted for Celeron users. Here's a piece of the story :

An erratum that affects the Pentium III's SSE or Streaming SIMD multimedia instruction set is keeping Intel's new 810 chip set from working with the chip. The erratum, called MaskMovQ, is a Pentium III glitch. And while Intel has created a workaround for it, the 810 doesn't support it, making it incompatible with the Pentium III. Intel isn't supporting the workaround in the chip set because the 810 was not designed or validated to work with the Pentium III, said Intel spokesman Dan Fancisco.

Voodoo 3 Vs Riva TNT2 Shoot-out 14:15 pm - Yingzong
Had a look at a Voodoo3 and TNT2 shoot-out cum comparison down at Gamecenter just now. I felt that it was an unbiased and well organised article. They've looked at performance, image quality feaures and more. In addition, there's a summary at the end with some buying advice. Here's a titbit of it :

Things get complicated pretty quickly when you try to compare the performance of the Voodoo 3 and the TNT 2. The Voodoo 3 is currently available in two flavors: the 2000, running at 143 MHz; and the 3000, running at 166 MHz. According to 3dfx, its 3500 TV with an integrated TV tuner is expected to ship in July at 183 MHz. The standard TNT 2 runs at a 125-MHz core clock speed and a 150-MHz memory speed; the Ultra TNT 2 runs with a 150-MHz core and a 175-MHz clock speed. However, individual cardmakers are shipping boards at a wide variety of speeds; for example, Guillemot's 16MB Xentor runs at 135/166, and Hercules is planning a board to ship at 175/200 by default. And vendors such as Diamond and Creative, which are shipping at the standard clock speeds, are including utilities that allow you to overclock the cards.

Stealth V3 Fighter Review 09:10 am - Kan
We have another classified review on the Stealth V3 Fighter bomber, errr...I mean the Stealth V3 Fighter cooler for the Voodoo3 over at FPS3D

The installation for the Stealth Voodoo3 Fighter is quick and painless. The heat sink that shipped with the Voodoo3 is removed, and the Stealth Voodoo3 Fighter is put in it's place. The fan attaches directly onto the processor using TennMax's phase change thermal interface pad, so no thermal compound is needed. The pushpins at the corners of the fan are snapped in place to make sure everything is secure. This is to make sure the fan doesn't fall off and tumble onto the helpless chips below, a safety measure the V2 Cooler didn't have.

Labtec APX-4620 Speakers 08:39 am - Kan
Spotted the Labtec APX-4620 speakers review over at 3DHardware.net. For that price, you get a rather decent pair of speakers for your PC.

We've taken a look at Labtec's shot for the high-end speaker market - the APX-4620. Ok, so Labtec might not be the first company that pops up in your head when you hear the words: High quality sound and thundering bass. Well, all of this is beginning to change, beginning with the APX-4620. Branded under the "Performance" series, we should expect some serious sound from the APX-4620.

As mentioned, the system consists of a 6" Max-X (Labtec's own driver design) subwoofer housed in a sturdy cabinet made out of a strong particle design. Sounds impressive so far. Anyway, enough with the introduction, let's get on with the review.

Leadtek Winfast S320 II 08:32 am - Kan
Yes, we have another TNT2 review around and it's the Leadtek Winfast S320 II over at HardwarePros

Being the first to release a new card is one thing, but making it a good one in such short time is another thing.  Was Leadtek able to do it? In short, Yes. I'm not keeping it a surprise because there have been a ton of S320 II reviews and the results are all the same.  So there is no point keeping you in suspense.  However, I will try to examine all aspects of the board as best as possible.  Most  TNT2 boards from different manufacturers will be very similar in performance because they are closely based on NVidia's reference design. 

Interesting Stuff Department 01:25 am - Yingzong
Just had a look at these pieces of work : Windows CE MP3 players and an intriguing looking mouse pad from Everglide with, check this out, "Micro-Beveled Edge Traction Control Surface". What a mouthful but nevertheless, still sweeet... Reviews done by the folks down at The Gadgeteer and AGN Hardware respectively. Hell, the mouse pad even got a perfect ten score! Here's a review quickie from The Gadgeteer :

The player has a nice interface that displays the song titles in your current playlist. You can create multiple lists and save them. So, if you have a bunch of country tunes, or top40 tunes, you can separate them into different lists. You can then tap on them one at a time to play them or you can shuffle them.

And here's the review quickie from AGN Hardware :

Basically you can tell if a mousepad is good within the first 10 seconds of use. The Everglide mousepad is the smoothest yet best tracking mousepad I've ever used. It is ungodly smooth. I was afraid that it would be really smooth but have zilcho tracking. This isn't the case however. The surface of the Everglide mousepad has tiny bumps which give excellent tracking but don't hinder the smoothness. Other vinyl pads are very smooth but the mouse just slips away since it has nothing to "grab" onto when you stop moving. Using the Everglide mousepad is actually less work because it is so effortless to use. This helps to eliminate that stiff wrist feeling that can build up after a long gaming session. For kicks, I grabbed the cutting board from my kitchen to compare it. It does look similar but the bumps aren't nearly as fine and it's nowhere near as smooth. Durability wise, this pad isn't going to wear out. In five years there is no reason why it won't be as smooth as the day you bought it.

Mitsubishi 2020u 21-inch Monitor 01:00 am - Kan
This is one of the better monitors out there (I love Mitsubishi!) and Gamespot managed to review the 2020u 21-inch monitor

The DiamondPro 2020u has a seemingly infinite number of adjustments - even more than the Sony. However, the onscreen display is a little more difficult to use, as there's a lot of button pushing you must do to set any parameter. With some patience, you can get an incredibly sharp image out of the 2020u. The default settings were OK, but I had to adjust convergence and corner sharpness a bit.

Diamond Viper V770 TNT2 Review 00:48 am - Yingzong
This is the third time I'm posting review news for the Diamond V770. This time, the stuff comes from The Tech Zone. A rather brief review with benchmarks to checkout. Here's a sneak :

Fast. Great visual quality. Expensive. That's the Viper 770 Ultra. So, should you get this card? That depends. If you want excellent visual quality and ultra high speed and you're willing to pay for it, then we can highly recommend the Viper 770 Ultra. If you just want speed above all else and visuals can take a back seat, then get a Voodoo 3 3000. You'll save money, get a better game bundle and TV out.

Judging by past Diamond products, there is very little doubt that the Viper V770 Ultra will be the best selling TNT2 card this year. Diamond dominated Voodoo sales with it's Monster 3DII and it looks to take the market by storm with the new Viper 770 Ultra.

While the price may be a little high, we feel it's worth it for what you get. Given a choice between the V770 Ultra and the V770 we would take the Ultra. Then again, we're a bunch of performance hungry nuts. You may not need the speed that this card can generate.

Gainward 6IBA 00:41 am - Kan
Another new motherboard review over at AnandTech. The Gainward 6IBA comes with 4 PCI/3 ISA and 1 AGP slots. Rather ordinary.

The impression given by the 6IBA after a first look is that it is appears much like any other ATX i440BX Slot-1 mainboard with no special features nor any obvious defects. The ATX specification is also closely followed with most major components strategically placed to minimize cable clutter and provide the greatest possible space to work around the board. All HDD/FDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board, so that these cables are not forced to run over the CPU and/or memory.

Computex Show Report Part 2 00:41 am - Kan
Sharky updated their Computex 99 Show Report with info on nVidia NV10 as well as stuffs like the Intel Camino and Carmel chipsets.

Most interestingly was the identical line being touted by the aforementioned sources with regards to the projected performance of the NV10, which is said to be somewhere in the region of four times that of the TNT2 (the current 350MegaTexel/second fill rate is already high). Many of you will already know that NVIDIA is aiming to take 3D graphics into the 'next stage of realism' by sporting hardware T&L (transformation & lighting), clipping and geometry features on-chip but what if we told you that this will be backed up by a 64MB-128MB memory specification? Obviously full AGP 4X support will increase the memory bandwidth considerably too

Avision AV100C 00:37 am - Kan
Dan's Data reviewed the Avision AV100C sheetfed scanner. Damn, scanners are kinda cheap nowadays and you can get one for less than $100 bucks.

Sheetfed scanners, which pull a page past a stationary scan head, are a trade-off. They take up a lot less desk space than a standard flatbed model, and ones with a proper document feeder are great for multi-page scanning. But you can't scan anything but individual sheets of paper or card in a sheetfed scanner, and the scans you get are often not as good as those from a flatbed scanner, because the scan mechanism is likely to have lower specifications, and because the paper feed mechanism may have a hard time keeping the document straight.

PlanetHardware is Back! 00:35 am - Kan
Hot hunks over at PlanetHardware is back with a new facelift (I could use one of 'em these days) and more juice than ever. So, head over there to take a look!

TennMax P3 TF Cooler 00:33 am - Kan
HotHardware posted a review on the TennMax P3 TF Cooler for the Pentium III processors. What the hell is Intel trying to do by not even providing a default heatsink+fan for the Pentium III?

The unit itself is a very dense pin construction and has two 5K RPM fans mounted on the top. These fans are harnessed together into one three pin intelligent power connector that plugs right into an available header on your motherboard. This is a much neater solution than the standard pig tail set ups you usually get with dual fan models these days. As you can see in the above picture, on either side of the CPU contact plate the sink is hollowed out so it doesn't make contact with the CPU board or cache chips.

Creative Optical I/O Card 00:28 am - Kan
Those babes over at 3DsoundSurge had a short note on the lack of availability of the Creative's Optical I/O card.

Due to customer feedback, Creative has decided that the Optical I/O card demand was met after the first shipment of cards was sold. Initial sales feedback confirmed this, as sales have gone down significantly since we first offered the Optical I/O card. Thus, in lieu of further demand, the Optical I/O card is only available on a first come, first serve basis from the regions that still have them left - currently that leaves only the US.

If demand is sufficient, there is no reason why Creative couldn't offer this product again. But looking at the sell through for the first offering, it appears this item is not all that desirable to the general Sound Blaster Live! population. I would encourage your readers to inform their local Creative representative, via the respective web sites listed below, that they still want such a card. 

Anyway, the guys also updated their Benwin BW2000 review with a picture of the Benwin-EX4 prototype which is targeted at gamers.

RaceAge Preview 00:25 am - Kan
Gamers' Crypt sent note on their latest preview on the game RaceAge which is a futuristic type of racing game. 

The premise of RaceAge is as simple as it is effective; the year is 2040, and instead of impending doom or apocalyptic landscapes ravishing the planet Earth, the world has cleaned up its act. The multi-gazillionairs and corporations are finally using their powers for good instead of evil, and developing themed mega-cities to entertain the populous - ‘Retro Living,’ as the Immersion team calls it. Within these cities, citizen do far more than just sight-see, living and interacting in the theme-park-come-mega-city as a part of the entertainment experience.

Midtown Madness 00:21 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3D Spotlight just did a review on Midtown Madness. I'm kinda beginning to enjoy this game. Hey, knocking into pedestrians used to be my favorite pass time. :)

When you first begin a race, you need to know how to get through stoplights and the traffic that pauses there. The stoplights seem to be timed as they would in the real Chicago. Cars will converge at one stoplight while the others on the left and right will just be making their way from a green light. Of course it is also fun to go full speed into a bunch of stopped cars. Just push the pedal to the metal, go full speed, and just before you get upon them push in the brake and pull the parking brake, steer either left or right and your going to be in for some fun crashes.

02 June 1999 - Wednesday

Voodoo3 3000 09:38 am - Kan
More Voodoo3 madness over at SysopSolutions where the guys reviewed the Voodoo3 3000 AGP card.

As I seem to be touching on the "have nots" the second concern is the lack of 32-Bit rendering.  What does this mean?  Typically 16-Bit color is adequate for most applications, however problems occur when gameplay generates effects like smoke or fog.  32-Bit rendering allows for merged "dithering" which is better able to blend colors and pixels  for an improved visual effect.  The more levels of imaging (e.g. fog layers) the heavier the requirement for 32-Bit rendering as without it the "dithering" effect starts to become noticeable. As game engines develop and imaging becomes more intense the lack of 32-Bit rendering could become a negative issue for the Voodoo3.

Act Labs Gun System 03:02 am - Kan
This is cool! Extreme Hardware conducted an interview with Brandon Crick on the new Act Labs Gun System. Finally, we have Virtual Cop shooting style games on your PC monitor!

What happens is similar to the way a console light gun works except we have fine tuned the technology so that it is compatible with high resolutions and the full scope of refresh rates. The problem in the past has been that any gun designed for the PC required an interface card. Our technology is different in that we simply intercept the video signal and gather information via that connection. During the
shot process a rapid white flash is executed which paints a white canvas for our hardware to interpret the current gun's position.

Tom's Monday Blurb 02:59 am - Kan
Tom updated his Monday Blurb with how stressful his week was. Wow, I'm stressed as well. 

Phew, one very stressful week is over, but I have to say that all the stress I've been through for the last 8 weeks was finally worth it. Many of you have certainly noticed the lack of updates in the last two months and also that my mood was not exactly cheering. The reason for this was a major restructuring of the business behind Tom's Hardware Guide. Most of you probably know that I am a medical doctor and not a slick business guy, which is why those changes didn't really come easy to me. I don't really enjoy business meetings, lawyer appointments and contract negotiations, and even though I have learned how to deal with it in the last three years, I still prefer spending my time for updating the website

VR Pro Joystick 02:56 am - Kan
WickedPC posted a review on the VR Pro Joystick. Seems like joysticks ain't like those few years back. Ahh...this is what I call progress.

While wandering through the booths, we got towards the back right corner of the area showing off hardware and strolled past the VR Devices booth. If they were not out doing a demo of it, we would have kept walking thinking it was just another joystick. But, they were out playing with it, except for one thing. The stick was off the base and they were about 3-4 feet away from the monitor playing. Motion sensing technology, we needed to investigate. The VR Pro uses Analog Device's micro G-Tilt Sensor. The VR Pro allows gamer's to strafe, rotate, throttle, accelerate, and freelook on 4 axis to create complex moves like Circle Strafes and hat up/down looks. The Patented one-handed technology built into the VR Pro senses up all the pushes, pulls and twists that you apply among the axes and translates them into fluid and smooth movement in your game.

Leadtek WinFast 3D S320V 02:54 am - Kan
Our pals over at iXBT posted their review on the Leadtek WinFast 3D S320V graphics card based on the nVidia Vanta chipset.

Nevertheless, integrated graphics chipsets turn out worth it for office systems in the first place, where there is no need in high-quality gaming features, and good and fast 2D graphics is more than enough. Integrating the graphics card component onto the mainboard allows saving a few bucks and making a cheaper system compared to a multi-component one. Besides, the system logic manufacturers aim at continuing the integration development. They are planning to integrate the graphics accelerator directly into the main chipset and to use system memory for graphics purposes, which will make the whole system even cheaper. Got the point? To illustrate this recent approach we can mention VIA MVP4 and i810.

Fujitisu 10,000 RPM Hard Drive 02:49 am - Kan
Spotted this over at Storagereview. A new Fujitisu 10,000 RPM hard drive is available in their Reviews section. This is a 18.2 GB UW2 SCSI hard drive spinning at 7200 rpm. Incidentally, I saw the new IBM 7200 rpm 9.1 GB hard drive with 2 MB cache buffer today. Hmm...

The MAG3182LP is Fujitsu's second 10k rpm Ultra2 SCSI offering, a direct competitor to the third-generation Cheetah 18LP. The specs of this 18.2 gigabyte drive, however, read a bit more impressively across the board. Instead of the Cheetah's 3.0 gigs per platter, the MAG3182LP features 3.6 GB/platter. The Fujitsu's specified average read seek time of 5.0 milliseconds comes in just a hair faster than the Seagate's 5.2 ms. Finally, the MAG3182LP's 2 meg buffer is twice the size of the Cheetah 18LP's one meg. A five-year warranty protects the drive.

Computex 99 Show Floor Report 02:45 am - Kan
Sharky fished up another new article on the Computex 99 Show Floor Report. Read up on what's going on at Computex 99 over at Taiwan (Woohoos, I love those babes over there).

Taiwan is the world's third largest source of computer products and also accounted for no less than 50% of the world's IT products that were sold last year- clearly the industry is buzzing in this part of the world. Whilst economic crisis set in last year in the rest of Asia, Taiwan instead enjoyed an annual growth rate of over 20%. That's the economics out of the way… and in layman's terms, a large proportion of your home/work PC was probably manufactured in Taiwan (motherboard, graphics card, CDROM etc.). The same can be said if you're thinking of buying a new PC this year. Computex traditionally attracts over 10,000 overseas (make that 10,002 with two SE representatives over here) visitors, with a primary focus of catering to overseas volume buyers.

Gigabyte GA-6BX7 Socket 370 02:42 am - Kan
AnandTech posted another motherboard review, this time it's the Gigabyte GA-6BX7 i440BX Socket 370 motherboard. 

The GA-6BX7 is a much more traditional motherboard where Gigabyte decided to focus primarily on the board itself rather than gimmicks. Just looking at the GA-6BX7, it's clear that they set out to follow all current specifications and standards set forth for motherboard design. The one that catches the eye first is the color coded ATX ports on the back of the board for PC99 compliance. Almost every new motherboard will start including this nifty little "feature." While it does little for the tweaker, it certainly does make it easier for grandma to setup her computer using color coded plugs. It's no longer just for Packard Bell's ;).

Creative TNT2 Ultra 02:35 am - Kan
Gamers Depot did a review on the Creative TNT2 Ultra graphics card. Pretty high quality looking, it comes with TV-out as well.

Check out those scores!! I can definitely live with them. All games felt smooth and rich in color. And for those of you who've been complaining about green smoke in Kingpin on V3, OK I admit ... smoke does look better on this card. In fact, I'm here to tell you it's steam, not smoke. Go buy one of these cards and look again. Quake3Test looks noticeably better on this card, both in 16-bit and 32-bit, than on other cards that do not handle such large textures. Only in Quake3 Test can I see a significant difference in image quality between V3 and TnT2 (i.e. 16-bit vs. 32-bit).

Zaero Give Away 02:34 am - Kan
QuakeCity is having a Zaero Quake II Add-on give away. You can win the game from Team Evolve by simply answering the poll questions. Sounds great!

Q3Test Bots Hack 02:33 am - Kan
FPS3D sent note on the Q3Test Bots Hack which enables you to run bots in Q3Test.

Good luck! I've tried the bots personally and they are actually very smart, it comes with four preset bots for you to try out, and you can spawn as many as you wish (of course you'll hit a limit some where). It's great for all you high pingers out there... Hey, I'm running a cable modem and I still enjoy it!

The 4th Coming 02:29 am - Kan
Over at Gamers' Crypt, the guys posted a preview on The 4th Coming which is what the guys called a Massively Multiplayer Role-Player Game. Anyway, they also posted some screenshots of Monolith's upcoming No One Lives Forever. Looks pretty cool.

T4C, however, has circumvented this issue of lag by using a system seen commonly with FPS shoot-em-ups. Instead of there being a single, and all-knowing server, the game is fragmented over 200+ servers around the world, hosted by various ISPs and suchlike, meaning that even down here in Australia there exists a server with a ping that shouldn’t impeded on gameplay. 28.8k modem owners rejoice, for I have met many low-end gamers in T4C, tasting the fruits of the genre reserved almost exclusively for the high-end elitist on PIII's with a cable connection (you know who you are). 

Diamond Viper V770 TNT2 Review 01:30 am - Yingzong
There's another Diamond Viper V770 review, this time, down at Thresh's Firing Squad. Covers both the "Ultra" and "non-Ultra" flavours. Got lot's of benchmarks against the Voodoo3 boards down for comparison too. Here's a performance summary :

Both flavors of the Viper 770 outperform their Voodoo3 equivalents at default speeds, which is even more impressive considering they are clocked approximately ten percent lower. Evidently the TNT2 architecture is efficient enough to overcome the raw fill rate difference in the cards, even at high resolutions. Also, both the regular and ultra versions of the Viper 770 are clocked quite conservatively. Tweakers should be able to coax another twenty percent speed improvement out of both cards, though it may take some additional cooling.

01 June 1999 - Tuesday

ASUS AGP-V3800 11:53 am - Kan
FullOn3D reviewed the ASUS AGP-V3800 TNT2 card. This one looks kinda good with S-Video In/Out and Composite Out as well as ASUS shutter glasses.

Heat, permanent concern for all those who did not submerge their mainboard in olive oil cooled down beyond the freezing point of helium, is taken care of on this board by a quality fan and heatsink.

I didn't encounter stability issues at default clockspeed, at 200 MHz memory clock the board gets a little more fickle about things, but that, after all, is beyond of what you paid for and hence not covered by reviews, previews or views other than your own.

Overclockers Board Shoot Out 11:46 am - Kan
Our cute babes over at BxBoards did a massive 5 board overclocker's shoot out. Check out which board is the best out of the whole lot.

The AOpen AX6BC is fastest at 133Mhz with the Samsung -G8 and PC133 Enhanced SDRAM. The board was totally stable at CAS / RAS latency settings of 2. The Abit BX6-2 required a latency of 3 for both SDRAMs and was not stable at all at 133Mhz with the HSDRAM. If only the BX6-2 were more stable past 133Mhz - this is a real concern with official 133Mhz CPU's soon to become available. A stable 133Mhz implementation guarantees your BX motherboard will be able to run the next generation of CPU's successfully. The MSI 6163 was one of the slower boards at 133Mhz although it was stable up to 152Mhz. This suggests that MSI have used less aggressive internal timings to ensure stability at these high speeds.

Sharky Buyer's Guide 11:41 am - Kan
Sharky updated their Buyer's Guide, bringing'em to the sixth edition. Check out what they have to recommend.

The CPU front has also been quiet this past month, with only the Celeron 466MHz having been released. We met with Intel recently and it became apparent that the 466MHz Celeron is far from being the last in a long line. We have it on good authority that even when the Pentium IV and V are around, the Celeron will still be there. We expect an August 9th release for the 500MHz Celeron. As for Camino? It'll be Q3 before AGP 4X becomes standard (see our road map) but when it is unleashed, the 3D accelerator market should really benefit from the extra bandwidth. AGP will have truly arrived. Of course the only problem will be, just which 3D chip manufacturer will harbor the best support (more on that another time)?

Reviews 11:41 am - Kan
We have 2 new reviews over at AGN Hardware. They are the Montego II Quadzilla soundcard and the IWill le370 Socket370 motherboard.

When the IWill LE370 motherboard first showed up on the doorstep I was pretty excited. The board featured your standard Socket 370 motherboard amenities plus the addition of Aureal’s Vortex sound chip on the motherboard. This allowed you to have great sound in your budget computer without having to drop down extra money for a sound card for your system. Opening the box up and reading the instructions I noticed something that left a frown on my face trying to figure out what was up with IWill. The motherboard was using a 1 ½ old LX chipset from Intel rather then the newest BX or ZX chipsets. This meant that there was no way I was going to be able to pop in my 300A PPGA processor and run at 450/504 like I can do with my Abit boards, due to the inability for the LX chipset to support the 100MHz FSB. Due to this reason I kind of stuck the box up on a shelf and meant to get to it whenever I had some time.

Future of PC Audio 11:14 am - Kan
FPS3D written an article on the Future of PC Audio. Hmm, how good will soundcards be in the next 5 years? Support 10 speakers with 2 subwoofers?

Creative was caught off guard with all these new technologies, and as soon as Ensoniq introduced their Audio PCI card, Creative Labs went out and bought them (the company!). However, nothing could have prepared Creative for A3D, the technology that Aureal had been working on for years. This technology, as you probably already know, was capable of producing near ture 3D audio from just two speakers. It took Creative over a year to throw together a competing technology.

Final Fantasy VIII Preview 11:07 am - Kan
The guys over at GameWire did a preview of Final Fantasy VIII. A classic out there, read how the guys describe the exciting storyline.

Peace reigns across the land in FF8...or does it. In this world, Garden uses its military power to quiet disputes between countries. All this worked till an evil witch awoke from her long silence. In a very short time, the peace in this land has at last come apart. After fast forwarding a little bit, you learn that Galbadia has annexed its neighboring country, Dole, and has declared war on the rest of the world. The evil witch, Edea has been suspected of collaborating with the Galbadia president.

PowerStrip 2.50.01 11:04 am - Kan
DemoNews sent note on the new version of PowerStrip 2.50.01. Anyway, it's available for download from our Downloads section as well.

PowerStrip 2.50.01 (648kb) is now available for downloading - the first "official" release with support for the NVidia Vanta/TNT2, Voodoo3, Savage4 and Rage128, under Windows 95/98 and NT. Although - aside from the additional chips supported - there are no new features, this release includes quite a few small improvements and bug fixes. Note that 2.5 is likely to be the last major revision of what is now, in fact, a very old and dated program. The next major release will be the first ever to be completely unencumbered by prior OEM demands and restrictions (the source of many legitimate complaints by end-users), and has a completely different architecture and feature set.

Diamond Stealth III G540 Review 10:30 am - Yingzong
This short review just popped up at Sharky's. Well, in this era of Ultra TNT2 cards, I believe the article was just patronizing the Savage4 Pro board. Not really impressed with the benchmarks though. But I guess we have all got to wait a while for S3TC games to come out en masse for the Savage4 boards to show their worth. Check it out :

Wow, we've been living the high life too long with the recent Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra, Diamond ViperV770 Ultra and Matrox G400 MAX video cards. It's sobering to see how the other half lives who have to power their PCs without the latest and greatest "price is no object" products from video card vendors. That being said the results from the Stealth III aren't as dismal as they appear at first glance, the card definitely provides an adequate gaming experience if it's utilized at 800x600x32bpp or 1024x768x16bpp.

Diamond Viper V770 Ultra TNT2 Review 10:15 am - Yingzong
As promised, Anand has just finished his final testings on the V770 and has released his review. Still left with his ASUS V3800 TNT2 review before a huge TNT2 and Voodoo3 roundup. Anyhow, the Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor 32 which he reviewed recently appeared to be a faulty board; So take that review with a pinch of salt. Here's a snipplet off the V770 review :

It's been proven that the V770 Ultra isn't the overclocking monster everyone expected it to be, limited by a maximum of around 170 - 180MHz core and with a default clock of 150/183, there is no guarantee that your board will even work at 155/183, much less 175/200 as AnandTech's sample turned out to be relatively stable at. If you're a hard core gamer, and only care about performance, then the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra is still probably your best bet. What if you're not all that interested in overclocking?

What if you're looking for a decent TNT2 Ultra board that gives you the features you want? In that case, the Viper V770 Ultra is definitely a viable option. It is probably what will turn out to be the best overall, normally clocked TNT2 Ultra card. The ease of use and installation of the V770 Ultra is top notch, it's obvious that Diamond put a lot of effort into making their InControl Tools 99 drivers the best they could be, and it would take quite a bit to make them any better. Kudos to Diamond on making a good card, but they take a back seat to Hercules as the overclocker's choice.

Midtown Miadness Review 09:50 am - Yingzong
PCParadox just posted their review of the latest addition in the "Madness" titles from Microsoft Games. Looks like road rage really appealed to them. I've had a go at it too. This clip from the review probably best sums it up :

Midtown Madness's visuals really stunned me at first because so much was happening in an enormous environment. Many cars continuously stop and go obeying the traffic lights, and pedestrians innocently walk the sidewalks only to find out that my car was coming around the corner. Lights flickers green, yellow, and white and drawbridges made absolutely awesome jumps to clear. Chicago is an impressive city to begin with, and Angel Studios has definitely added a touch of their own imagination to make Midtown Madness's environment astounding. So much is always happening in the game, even brake lights light up, so one's eyes can never get tired of seeing the same thing twice.

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