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Newsletter Contents

.400MHz FSB AthonXP
.AOpen nForce2-GT
.Glowing Keyboard
.Crucial PC3200 DDR
.IWill P4HT Mobo
.Portable DVD Player
.Colin's Weekly Tips

Glow in the Dark Keyboard and more Nforce2!!

In the offices I'm the one who gets the job of shopping for virtually everything technology related. Need a 1U web server? Ask Max if it should be dual Xeon or AthlonMP. Need a new 19" CRT monitor for the graphic artist? Ask Max what to get. Need to assemble a system to upgrade an older machine; you guessed it, ask Max. I guess the point of this is that as much as is a business (we review hardware, you read our opinions, you make up your own mind) we still have to buy hardware ourselves.

Knowing that when we say "Monitor X has a luscious screen that would make angels weep" means we more than likely bought the very same display to use on a day-to-day basis here. I think that connection is what really what counts. We know the pros and we factor in the cons of the technology along with the sticker price, just as you do.

It's a given that in six months time there is going to be another model (if we run with the monitor example) which is newer, better, and less expensive. The real key is to have what you bought last long enough that by the time it has finally kicks the bucket a few years down the line, the alternative is less than half the price and a worthwhile upgrade. This concept doesn't apply to all technology in the same way, but it's a good general rule of thumb. With that in mind, in this weeks Newsletter we examine a motherboard which may provide the leap many users of older PIII systems could be looking for. The Aopen AK79G Max is based on the nForce2-GT chipset and pretty much writes the book on integrating features you'll actually use. Alongside that motherboard we have a look at some tasty new Crucial PC3200 DDR400 memory.

On the fun side, we have two reviews I think you'll like; the first is a look at a little electro-luminescent keyboard that makes typing at night so much easier. The same kind of 'stuff' that makes digital watches glow in the dark with a nice blue colour is laid out behind translucent keys, backlighting them so you can see just what the heck you're typing in the wee hours of the morning. Cool stuff indeed. IWill have made a rare show in this weeks newsletter with their P4HT Pentium 4 motherboard which Colin reviews. With summer on the horizon, air travel comes into bloom. If you're a jet setter you'll want to read our review of the DVD-L100, a portable DVD player from Samsung. With one of these little puppies, you'll never have to sit through another bad in-flight movie again.

In this weeks HTLD (High Tech Low Down) Chris discusses the state of Front Side Bus speeds in the industry, and the upcoming chipsets which offer support. Check it out.

AOpen AK79G MAX nForce2-GT Motherboard Review

Read Article Now! AOpen are one of the larger component manufacturers in the industry, also producing a vast array of peripherals like keyboards and even computer cases. Such is the diversity of products that it would not be a stretch to say you could just about assemble an entire computer from purely AOpen parts, even down to the very last stick of RAM. Aiming for the mass markets generally means you get good value with AOpen products, and one such example of this is the AK79G Max nForce2-GT (Crush 18G) motherboard we are examining here which is priced at about $140USD.

Nvidia have recently expanded on the nForce2 lineup which originally encompassed just the nForce2-G/nForce-S Northbridges, and MCP Southbridge. The two new iterations to be added to the family include the nForce2-GT and nForce2-ST which contain the MCP-T Southbridge. The AK79G Max uses the nForce2-GT chipset, and the main difference between this and the original nForce2-G are the inclusion of IEEE 1394 Firewire, TV-out options, networking hardware nVidia have entitled 'DualNet' (basically describes nvidia and/or 3Com hardware controllers for 10/100 Ethernet) and use of nVidia's Audio Processing Unit (APU). Read the Rest...

Zippy Electroluminescent EL-610 Mini-Keyboard

I've personally always preferred typing out articles on a notebook keyboard versus that of a full sized klunker. Notebook-style keyboards have a shorter keystroke which makes them 'faster'. Keystroke is a way of measuring how far you have to press a key down before it counts as a letter to the computer, and since a notebook doesn't have all that much free space the keystroke is typically just 3mm.

Compare that to a full sized 104-key Windows keyboard which can have as much as a 6-8mm keystroke. Behind the 88-translucent keys is a flat sheet of electroluminescent material - the same stuff that puts the glow in "Indiglo" which lights up watch faces around the world. Drawing power from the USB port, the keyboard is intended to be used in environments where there is insufficient light, as well as applications which would do well to have a light-weight portable keyboard at hand. Read the Rest...

Crucial PC3200 DDR400 256MB Memory Review

Read Article Now! A division of Micron, have been selling JEDEC-spec memory directly to the public since 1996. Since then they have built up an extremely good reputation for themselves. It's not that they just sell quality memory, Crucial also offers first class service to its customers. Heck, most of the memory in the servers is Crucial memory. While we haven't had a stick go bad on us yet, we have dealt with Crucial customer service on a few occassions (usually when ECC memory was mistakenly ordered instead of ECC Registered DIMMs) and the results have always been helpful. If you have any compatibility problems, or if your memory module fails, just shoot over an e-mail or give them a call and they'll take good care of you. In any case, on with today's look at some special engineering sample Crucial PC3200 DDR. After JEDEC approved the PC3200 standard in Dec. 2002, manufacturers began the rush to not only get their DDR400 memory compliant, but also to encourage support within mainstream computer manufacturers like Intel. Read the Rest...

Visit the ShoppingList Page for the April 2003 Budget $599 System, $1500 Mainstream and High-end $2500 System hardware recommendations.

Search Dealtime for Computer Hardware
Abit ASUS Gigabyte Intel iWill Shuttle Soyo Super Micro Tyan

AMD Intel

Fast Memory

Video Cards
Albatron ATI Visiontek PNY MSI

Iwill P4HT-S i845PE Motherboard Review Samsung DVD-L100 Portable DVD Player Review

Read Article Now!

Based on Intel's i845PE chipset which supports 533MHz HyperThreading Pentium 4 processors, the P4HT-S offers a good value to consumers looking to move up to speeds of 3.06GHz now or in the future. Hyper-Threading is a technology which has remained dormant in the Pentium 4 processor for a while now, and only with Pentium 4-HT 3.06GHz processors has Intel decided to finally turn it on. In the most basic of explanations; Hyper Threading enables one processor to be seen by the operating system as two - consequently increasing performance in some types of applications. If you turn on Hyper Threading in the BIOS (you can also disable it if you want) and look at CPU usage Meter under "Task Manager" in Windows XP or Windows 2000 you will mysteriously see two processors instead of just the one chip physically installed in the motherboard. Read the Rest...

Read Article Now!

There aren't too many things that would get me to drop everything on the go, and use what's left of my free time on a weekend to review just one more piece of gear... that is until I saw the aluminum encased DVD-L100 portable DVD player from Samsung which retails for about $900 USD.

While the flight is too short to catch an entire flick, on the way back we could have watched about 4 movies back to back for all the delays! The DVD-L100 is intended to be used by travellers to break the boredom, and speed up the time a trip seems to take. And as you can see, what we have here is a portable DVD drive, a 10" LCD display (in perfect 16:9 aspect ratio for letter box movies), a Sony Memory Stick media port (for MP3's), twin headphone jacks and a small assortment of audio and video outputs. Read the Rest...

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips

Colin Sun
Today: Making Screen Shots in Windows

Paul Hill, a faithful Newsletter reader was kind enough to send over a tip on taking screen shots, and to be honest I couldn't have said it better. Here's Paul's tip... I often want to make a copy of the screen for safe keeping, or to send to someone. To do this manually is quite easy.

1) Press the 'Print Screen' key on the keyboard when you want to take a snapshot of the screen to keep. 2) Go to START > PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > PAINT to open the program. 3) Click Edit > Paste. If your using Win98 like me and are asked if you would like the bitmap enlarged Click Yes.

The image of the screen will appear and you can now use the 'Select' function in the 'Tool Box' to capture the part of the screen you want keep. 4) Once selected, go to Edit > Cut. 5) Then go to File > New and when asked if you want to "Save changes to untitled?" click 'No.' 6) Go to Edit > Paste and the same bitmap message may appear. Click Yes. Now just the part of the screen you want to keep is displayed, allowing you to save it as an image file for what ever you want it for.

Thanks for the tip Paul, it's greatly appreciated!

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PCstats Issue

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The High Tech Low Down

By: Chris Angelini

AMD seems to be in a bit of a holding pattern. Its Athlon XP 3000+ is a worthy high-end contender, but I'm holding my breath for something else. No, I'm not talking about Athlon 64, which is slated to hit in September. I'm referring to the Athlon XP on a 400MHz front side bus, which pushes the limit of DEC's EV6 front side bus. AMD is reluctant to comment, but sources outside of the company indicate than an Athlon XP 3200+ may arrive later this month or sometime in May.

But AMD surely wouldn't unveil the chip without proper chipset support. NVIDIA doesn't hide the fact that nForce2, in its current form, is ready to accommodate the 400MHz bus. I've also been hearing rumors of a revised chipset to counter opposition from VIA's KT400A. The KT400A reportedly does not support the 400MHz bus, but a representative from VIA believes a new version of KT400A could add the necessary support. More likely, we'll have to wait for KT600, set to appear within the next few weeks. SiS' plans were made public when it announced the 748 chipset, which does support a 400MHz bus, though it won't include native Serial ATA support until the 964 South Bridge is finalized.

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