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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series Sound Card

Creative has been the most dominant force in sound card industry and I could not think of any other competitors giving them a run for their money. Regardless if you are using your PC just to listen to music or watch movies or play games, the sound card is an essential part of your PC set-up. You will need a good sound card to complement your headphones or speakers. I know some of the motherboard comes with onboard sound card but these would not give you the ultimate gaming and music experience. Earlier this year, Creative announced that X-Fi Titanium series will replace their X-Fi Platinum series and they introduced the Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series and the cheaper model, Fatal1ty Professional Series. The only difference of the two is an additional I/O drive for quick front panel connection to headphones.

Personally, I am more willing to spend the extra money on a sound card than a video card simply because it is very unlikely you will find a new standard bearer in the sound field sector in the next six months. I have read reviews on Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series and they all agreed that the sound quality of this sound card is ridiculously fantastic. With X-Fi CMSS 3D delivering accurate 3D positional audio and realistic EAX 5.0 sound effects (these are a must for gaming enthusiasts), and 3D audio restoration (a must for music enthusiasts). For movie enthusiasts, when you watch your DVD movies this sound card will enrich your cinematic experience with THX certified surround sound, Dolby Digital EX and DTS Surround ES.

According to Creative Technology website, this Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series provide clearer voice chats and when you plug in your headset and microphone you will notice the difference immediately. Unlike its predecessor this break out box offers the placement options of either in the 3.5 inch floppy drive bay or 5.25 inch CD drive bay. A word of warning, this model is only available as a PCI Express card and you will need to check if your motherboard has a vacant PCI-E slot.

Below is the screenshot of Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series rear connections:

Monday, October 13, 2008

MSI R4870 - T2D1G Graphic Card

MSI R4870 - T2D1G is the latest graphic card from MSI and it is for games enthusiasts. With 1GB DDR5 memory the smooth rendering of DirectX 10 high-capacity 3D games is not a fuss anymore. With 1GB DDR5 graphic memory ensure excellent visual quality and eliminates graphic lag in today’s demanding texture data of 3D games. Cleaner and simpler wiring reduce the noise level and it is also not an issue working under lower voltage and higher clocking to enhance 3D gaming performance.

This high-end graphic card utilise the latest 2nd generation of 55nm GPU. Integrated with ATI PowerPlay power-saving technology, the MSI R4870 - T2D1G graphic card doubles the performance enhancement with the same wattage.

MSI R4870 – T2D1G graphic card also has the advanced UVD 2.0 video decoder core, a built-in HDCP key encryption which enable Blu-Ray and HD DVD movie playback and make 100% complete hardware acceleration to MPEG-2 / VC-1 / H.264 video format. The UVD 2.0 video decoder core is capable of simultaneous decoding of two videos in P-I-P (Picture-in-Picture) Mode. This graphic card built-in audio codec chip produces 7.1 channel surround sound via HDMI connector.

This MSI R4870 - T2D1G supports DirectX 10.1 framework of Microsoft Windows Vista Service Pack 1 plus offers 800 stream processors, which achieved the unprecedented levels teraflop (1000Gflops) of computing capability. It supports CrossFireX technology combined with CrossFire-ready mainboard to enable 2 to 4 graphics cards to work at the same time; this substantially enhance gaming performance and gives you a whole new level of gaming experience.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Smartphone

Nokia the titan of mobile phones have released its Nokia 5800 model or known as Tube. This is Nokia first touch-screen (stylus or finger touch) smart-phone with multimedia capabilities utilizing Symbian OS (Symbian S60). My first impression is this will be a premium class smart-phone and it turns out I was wrong. This is very much a smart-phone that caters to music and camera enthusiasts minus the hefty price tag.

According to my research, Nokia 5800 is bundled with 8GB micro-SD memory card (able to support up to 16GB). This model features a 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optic lense to boot. Other camera features are auto-focus and double LED flash. Images display on screen will also auto-adjust from portrait view to landscape mode (this seems to be the industry standard nowadays).

The 3.2 inch sensor display 640 X 360 resolution will brings out the vivid colours and clarity of your photos and videos. This is ideal for still photos and video recording (30 frames-per-second) in VGA quality for recording and playback. With virtual QWERTY keyboard and wireless features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This Nokia 5800 is the most powerful sounding mobile phone, thanks to its built-in surround sound stereo speakers.

Following are summary of Nokia 5800 specifications:
  • 3.2-inch touch-screen
  • 640 X 360 pixels resolution (16:9 display aspect ratio)
  • Symbian S60 5th edition OS
  • Quad band (GSM / GPRS / EDGE / GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900)
  • Auto display screen rotation
  • 3.2 Mega-pixels auto-focus Carl Zeiss lense
  • GPS with A-GPS capability
  • 3.5mm headphone / video-out jack slot
  • 8GB micro-SD memory card bundled within (support up to 16GB)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR Camera

In conjunction with Canon boast 'defined a new DSLR category' back in 2005, Canon released their EOS 5D model. The Canon EOS 5D model was the first 'full frame' sensor camera with a compact body; namely not having an integral vertical grip and have been very popular among camera enthusiasts mainly because it is less bulky then Canon EOS-1D, if you are looking for a full frame DSLR to use with your Canon lenses. With Sony DSLR-A900 and Nikon D700 in the market, it is timely for Canon to upgrade their EOS 5D model to Mark II.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II (left picture), is superior in terms of both resolution and features such as 21 mega-pixels, 1080p video, 3.0" VGA LCD, Live View, higher capacity battery and many others. In other words, this camera has surpassed both its direct competitors in terms of resolution (Nikon D700) or features (Sony DSLR-A900).

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is equipped with Live View and anti-dust features as well. Other improvement from its predecessor are the DIGIC 4 processor; with 14-bit analogue to digital conversion. This DIGIC 4 has allowed Canon to slightly improve on the original Canon EOS 5D’s 3fps continuous shooting rate to a new rate of 3.9fps.

Aside from capturing high quality still pictures it is also the first Canon’s DSLR to boast video recording. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is able to record video in full High Definition (HD) of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p) at 30fps. This is also the first DSLR to record video in glorious full HD and definitely best quality video recording by a still camera. Other improvement comprise of LCD screen size of 3 inch with 920k dot / VGA resolution. Owners of HDTV will be pleased that there is HDMI port for direct connection to HDTV at 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution.

As for more traditional photographic features, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II offers an improved viewfinder with 98% coverage, a shutter rated to 150k cycles and 9-point AF system with 6 AF assist points. This definitely the must have for all camera enthusiasts.

Following are Canon EOS 5D Mark II full features:
  • 21 megapixel CMOS sensor (very similar to the sensor in the EOS-1D Mark III)
  • Sensor dust reduction by vibration of filter
  • ISO 100 - 6400 calibrated range, ISO 50 - 25600 expansion (1Ds Mark III & 5D max ISO 3200)
  • Auto ISO (100 - 3200) in all modes except manual
  • 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting
  • DIGIC 4 processor, new menus / interface as per the EOS 50D
  • Image processing features are:
  1. Highlight tone priority
  2. Auto lighting optimizer (4 levels)
  3. High ISO noise reduction (4 levels)
  4. Lens peripheral illumination correction (vignetting correction)
  • RAW and SRAW1 (10 MP) / SRAW2 (5 MP)
  • RAW / JPEG selection made separately
  • Permanent display of ISO on both top plate and viewfinder displays
  • AF micro adjustment (up to 20 lenses individually)
  • Three custom modes on command dial, Creative Auto Mode
  • Image copyright metadata support
  • 98% coverage viewfinder (0.71x magnification)
  • 3.0" 920,000 dot LCD monitor with 'Clear View' cover / coatings, 170° viewing angle
  • Automatic LCD brightness adjustment (ambient light sensor)
  • Live View with three mode auto-focus (inclusive of face detection)
  • No mirror-flip for exposures in Live View if contrast detect AF is selected
  • Movie recording in Live View (i.e. 1080p H.264 up to 12 minutes, VGA H.264 up to 24 mins per clip)
  • Two mode silent shooting (Live View)
  • New jump options in play mode
  • HDMI and standard composite (AV) video out
  • Full audio support: with built-in mic and speaker, mic-in socket, audio-out over AV (although not HDMI)
  • IrPort (supports IR remote shutter release using optional RC1 / RC5 controllers)
  • UDMA Compact Flash support
  • New 1800 mAh battery with improved battery information / logging
  • New optional WFT-E4 Wi-Fi / LAN / USB vertical grip
  • Water resistance: 10 mm rain under 3 minutes