Tag Archives: Pcs

Okay, So Maybe You Won’t Get Windows 10 on July 29th

Okay, So Maybe You Won't Get Windows 10 on July 29th

Are you entitled to a free copy of Windows 10? There’s a flowchart for that. However, there’s no flowchart to tell you when you might actually get Microsoft’s new operating system. Officially, Windows 10 is coming July 29th, but not everyone will get it that day—now, says Microsoft, it will roll out in waves.

The official Windows Blog explains:

Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.

So if you’re part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider beta testing program, maybe you’ll get it on July 29th. Maybe. For everyone else, you’d better have clicked that “Get Windows 10” prompt that mysteriously showed up in your Windows toolbar to reserve your digital copy of the OS, because those will also be rolling out in waves. Microsoft doesn’t say if they’re first-come, first-serve, but the company doesn’t say they aren’t, either.

Honestly, this is probably a good thing. From what I’ve seen of the preview builds, Windows 10 isn’t quite ready. I’ve run into a wide variety of bugs that you don’t typically see this close to the launch of a major operating system. Tom Warren, a Windows 10 expert at The Verge, seems to agree. Launching this way lets Microsoft iron out these issues slowly, relying on its most dedicated and enthusiastic users to help spot the bugs—instead of facing a potential backlash by releasing a “finished” OS to everyone simultaneously.

And it’s hard to argue with that strategy when Microsoft is handing out Windows 10 for free!

Just don’t be surprised if—when July 29th rolls around—you can’t find your copy.


Contact the author at sean.hollister@gizmodo.com.

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

It started as an offhand brag, but turned into a dare. I was telling my Gizmodo colleagues why I loved my Windows 8 tablet: it’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s a fully fledged PC. Hell, I said, I could probably hook it up to a monitor and use it as my workhorse for a week.

Now I’m doing just that. It’s not as bad as you’d think.

Before we get into this, let me tell you what I’m not talking about: the $800+ Microsoft Surface Pro. That’s a fine tablet, but my device of choice is a $300 Dell Venue. The Venue 8 Pro is one of half a dozen cheap slates that punch well above their price tag. In fact, that’s exactly why I bought it—Windows 8.1 loads web pages faster than my similarly priced Android tablet ever did. It’s a real PC. So this dare is totally going to work out in my favor… right?

My quest was almost over before it began: the Venue 8 Pro has only one tiny micro USB port, and I quickly learned that it refuses to charge the tablet if you plug literally anything else in. My keyboard, mouse and DisplayLink monitor adapter all forced the tablet to use its battery instead. It doesn’t matter how capable the slate’s little Intel Atom processor is—if I couldn’t get it to last through a work day, I’d lost the dare. So, I did what anyone would do: I asked Google. And Google pointed me to an entire community of people trying to find an answer.

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

Buried deep within the "Dell Venue 8 Pro Owners Lounge" on the TabletPCReview forums, I found answers: some users had modified their USB hubs to trick the port into accepting both power and data connections. (Others gave up, opting for wireless keyboards and Miracast monitors instead.) And one particularly enterprising group actually designed and Kickstarted a purpose-built hub just to get their tablets to become makeshift desktops.

I settled on the cheapest, simplest solution possible: a splitter, an old DisplayLink USB hub, and a switch that causes an "accidental" short in the connection to initiate charging (Dell actually makes its own cable for this, too). I have no idea how this bizarre combination of wires actually works, but at the end of the day my tablet had three full-sized USB ports, a monitor and a mouse and keyboard. That I can work with.

All told, getting the entire thing set up was kind of a pain in the ass, but it worked! My super-sized tablet was more than capable of getting me through the work week. I could juggle half a dozen tabs for research, write posts in Kinja’s web-based editor and even edit, resize and watermark photos in Manga Studio 5 (Shush, I use it for drawing on the tablet and was too lazy to install Photoshop). Fantastic.

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

The little rig even multitasks fairly well—feel like listening to some music? Spotify lurks in the background without a hitch. Want to get social? Alt-Tab into Tweetdeck, not a problem. Microsoft Office, Google Hangouts, Steam and all my other always-on desktop apps ran just fine. But it’s not a full replacement for my desktop.

The longer I used my makeshift workstation, the more I started to notice little flaws. Exceedingly long pages (an endless Twitter stream, for example) gave my otherwise smooth browsing experience some pause, as did opening more than a dozen tabs at a time (What? I’m a busy guy). It wasn’t enough to force me to switch to my laptop, but it did make me more aware of the tablet’s limitations.

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

I worked my way through these issues and forgave the setup for the sake of the novelty: people used to talk about "working from their iPad," but I really did work from a tablet. I loved it. The Dell Venue 8 Pro was a $250 toy I bought to draw cartoons and read digital comics—now it’s a versatile, portable workstation. It has its issues (and leaves me yearning for the transition features Microsoft promises for Windows 10), but it’s a start. Maybe the next generation of small, cheap Windows tablets will be a little more considerate of weirdos (like me) hell-bent on carrying around an 8-inch do-it-all PC. High hopes, I know.

​Can a Cheap Windows Tablet Replace Your Desktop? 

As for that bet? I think I won: it’s been a week (longer, actually) and I’m still working from a ridiculous, rigged-up 8-inch tablet, and perfectly happy doing it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend the experience to anybody less stubborn or hell-bent on alternative computing than myself—and certainly wouldn’t call it a setup ready for the average user. Dell clearly never intended for anybody to use its plucky little tablet this way, and that’s a shame.

At best, it’s a sample of what our slates could be capable of in the near future. I genuinely hope that tomorrow’s tablets will be built with this kind of modularity in mind. Until then, my jumble of wires, adapters and switches is good enough for me.

But I’m a stubborn, tinkering madman. Most people should probably just wait.

The Performance Benefits of Discrete Video Cards (Even for Non-Gamers)

The Performance Benefits of Discrete Video Cards (Even for Non-Gamers)

If you’re a PC gamer, you know that upgrading your computer’s video card will give you the best gaming performance boost. PCWorld argues, however, that a discrete graphics card belongs in most people’s desktop PCs—not just gamers.

AMD’s and Intel’s integrated graphics (graphics technologies coupled with the processor) are pretty capable these days, but they’re still far less powerful than discrete video cards when it comes to performance—and not just in games, either:

Games aren’t the only applications that benefit from the power of a discrete GPU. AMD’s and Nvidia’s GPUs are made up of thousands of processors that can carry out multiple operations simultaneously. Any application that benefits from such parallel processing—be it an image-editing program like Photoshop, data-encryption software, or a distributed-computing project like Folding@Home or Seti@Home—will run faster with the assistance of a more powerful GPU.

PCWorld’s tests show performance boosts of 3% to 19% on PCMark’s productivity benchmarks when using discrete graphics cards (a ~$300 AMD Radeon R9 XFX card) versus integrated ones in the same systems. The greatest boosts were for the home suite than the work suite.

Even casual, browser-based games like Farmville and Angry Birds would have significant performance gains (about 1.5 to 2X the performance) from a discrete video card upgrade. The only place they didn’t seem to help was in video playback.

Of course, plunking down hundreds of dollars for a new video card won’t be worth it if the rest of the system is a bottleneck (an older processor or not enough memory). And there are other upgrades that will give you more bang for your buck, depending on your usage.

The tests suggest, though, that a discrete video card might not be just for gamers. Keep that in mind if you have the cash and are upgrading or building your own desktop PC to future proof it.

Tested: Why almost every desktop PC could use a video card upgrade | PCWorld

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel NUC PCs Pack a Ton of Power into a Tiny Little Case

Intel Next Unit Computing (NUC) PCs can pack quite a bit of power into a tiny little box. If you’re thinking of building a HTPC with XBMC or Plex, or you just want computer you can hide in a lunchbox, this is your ticket.

The downside or upside to the Intel NUCs—depending on how you look at it—is that you have to build them out yourself. They come with a motherboard, case, processor, and wireless antennaes ready to go. You have to add an mSATA SSD, a wireless card (if you want), a keyboard and mouse, and RAM. Putting one together is about as basic of a computer building job as you could ask for, so it’s a really good one to start out with if you’ve never done it before. It’s also a great option for kids who want to make their own machine.

When you’re done, you’ll have a tiny little computer that’s only 4"x4"x2"—smaller than a Mac mini. If you go the Celeron route, you can put on together for under $300. Core i3 and i5 options are available as well.

Intel NUC with Celeron ($152) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i3 ($290) | Amazon
Intel NUC with Core i5 ($375) | Amazon