2013 Nissan Altima

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Tech, Product of the Week

Over-delivering on the basics, Class-above exterior and interior design, Rewarding driving experience, segment defining technology. A premium look and feel with extensive use of upscale, soft-touch materials and craftsman-like attention to detail.

The 182-hp 4-cylinder engine gives you smooth power while contributing to the best-in-class fuel economy. Nissan’s legendary 3.5-litre, 270-hp V6 engine treats you to sports-car like performance with Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVVTCS).

Six Standard Air Bags. Single-stage supplemental front air bags adjust their inflation rate, depending on the severity of impact and seat belt usage.

 

Check out our review of the new Altima 3.5 SL to see what makes it so amazing.

AMD vs Nvidia: How much of a difference do drivers make?

Intro

Every time a new graphics card comes out from either AMD or Nvidia, we get new drivers, which are good enough to show the average potential of the card. Still, as with all early releases and beta drivers at launch, we know that it isn’t until the manufacturers and game developers work together over the coming months, that the true power of a card is revealed.

So basically what I’ve decided is to take the first officially supported drivers for the test cards and the latest stable release (WHQL) drivers from both the companies. Beta drivers weren’t considered due to their inherent nature of being potentially unstable with various hardware configurations and creating conflicts with patches and driver software.

Drivers

For starters I tracked down which drivers supported the AMD HD 7970 (non GHz Edition running at 925MHz on Core Clock) and the NVIDIA GTX 680 at launch. The Catalyst 12.2 came out in March 2012 and was the first driver to officially support the HD 7970 outside of the original beta which came out with the card’s release in December 2011. So it took AMD three months to bring out officially supported drivers for their highest-end card. Their latest drivers are the Catalyst 13.1.

On the NVIDIA front the GeForce 301.10 were the drivers of choice that officially supported the GTX 680, which came out mere days after launch. The latest version of the GeForce drivers are 310.90.

Over the course of 2012 most driver updates from either company focused on official support for recently launched cards, or supporting the most recent game, or giving better performance on SLI/ CrossFire setups. Squeezing out performance for already released cards seems low on the priority list. And then there were advanced features such as improved anti-aliasing techniques and bug fixes on specific games.

Hardware

So let’s have a look at the test system and the hardware used.

Benchmarks

And now let’s look at our benchmarking methodology:

3DMark

It’s interesting to see the GTX 680 leading the benchmarks in 3DMark 11, yet in the latest 3DMark benchmarks the HD 7970 takes the lead. How DirectX 11 programming has changed to take advantage of AMD hardware. Note: that the Launch 301.10 drivers for the GTX 680 kept on crashing on the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark.

Games

Conclusion

As you can see both the AMD HD 7970 and the NVIDIA GTX 680 perform on par, my guess being that the HD 7970 GHz Edition will outperform the GTX 680 in F1 2012, Battlefield 3 and Civilization V. However, none of these would be meaningful performance bumps as anything beyond 60fps is only for boasting, unless you have a monitor running at 120Hz refresh rate. Even then, though, actual performance benefits are arguable for most competitive games.

So useless framerates aside, what we’ve learned today is that either AMD releases their cards with poorly optimized drivers, or they have some of the best programming engineers who know how to really exploit the hardware available to them over the course of a few months. Of course, it could be a mix of both.

NVIDIA demos Borderlands 2 running on Project SHIELD

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Components, Graphics Cards, News, Tablets

NVIDIA’s Project SHIELD was one of our favorite products displayed during CES this year. With the Tegra 4 processor built-in the Project SHIELD is already an extremly capable handheld gaming device, but what makes it even more amazing is the ability to wirelessly stream PC games using it’s ultra-fast WiFi chip for lag-free gaming.

And while many people questioned it’s capabilities to stream high-end games, especially given the entry requirement of having an NVIDIA GTX 650 (or GTX 660M) or more powerful graphics card in your PC (or laptop), today we have a demo that should alleviate doubts on it’s PC streaming capabilities.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF7V3h24w38&w=550]

Impressive stuff when all things are considered. Of course, the demo showed best case scenario running Borderlands 2 on a GTX 680, sitting close to the source PC over a (presumably) dedicated WiFi connection. However, this is a good start for true handheld PC gaming.

Slated to be released in North America in Q2 of this year, we’ll bring you more on this exciting handheld device as the year progresses.

Instagram now available on browsers

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Smartphones

Instagram announced today a web-browser version of its photo feed. Meaning, you can check all your filtered photos, and of those whom you follow, directly from your browser in addition to viewing them on your mobile device.

The interface should be familiar to anyone who uses the service, which is a near clone of what is available on the app. However, you can’t upload any photos as the company wants to preserve the idea “about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime.”

“We believe that you should be able to access Instagram on a variety of different devices, any of which may be convenient to you at a given moment – including your desktop computer or tablet,” writes co-founder Kevin Systrom. “We do not offer the ability to upload from the web as Instagram is about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime. On the other hand, Instagram for the web is focused on making the browsing experience a fast, simple and enjoyable one.”

Well, great. Now people can view what you had for launch on a much bigger screen.

Apple to lose iPhone trademark in Brazil

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Here’s something you don’t read about every day – Apple actually admitting defeat. Mark your calendars as this won’t be happening any time soon.

Brazil’s copyright regulator has stated that Apple will not be allowed to use the ‘iPhone’ brand in Brazil, since the brand was previously registered to another local company. The company in question, IGB Eletrônica SA, registered the ‘iPhone’ name back in 2000, which was a long time before Apple announced its iPhone in 2007. In December 2012 IGB Eletrônica released an Android phone called IPHONE Neo One, retailing for about $300. The official ruling on the case will be announced on Feb 13th.

Reports say that Apple might challenge the ruling in court, given that it doesn’t want its precious iPhone brand to be associated with a low-cost smartphone. Or they could just pay off IGB Eletrônica instead…

(via Reuters)

Blackberry unveils limited edition red Z10 for developers

February 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, News

With the Z10 apparently doing impressive numbers and sold out launches in both UK and Canada in black and white colors, we now know that a third and very sexy looking variant exists. Too bad almost none of us will never be able to own it.

At Blackberry Jam Europe, the company unveiled the limited edition red Z10 device to the audience. But here’s the kicker – they’re only producing 12,000 of them exclusively for the developers who made native Blackberry 10 apps for their app store. However, there’s still a chance apparently. If you can make a native app and submit it to Blackberry and get approved before February 28th, you would be eligible for this exclusive and very sporty looking unit. I have to say that the red Blackberry looks good and definitely will pique a lot of interest. Here’s an unboxing video for the phone thanks to Crackberry:

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