Thursday, October 26, 2006

[unofficial] Vista Talk (Pt 1)

This is the first of many future releases about Vista's features and what an End-User can expect from Vista.

In the next few weeks, Microsoft will release the next installment of Windows to manufactures - Windows Vista. Vista has many features that an end-user could greatly benefit from. Personally I have a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate RC1 (Release Candidate 1) and I keep seeing great new features in the little places I haven't tinkered with.

Starting off, this issue will cover the basic multimedia features a typical home PC user will benefit from.

1. Multimedia

Windows Media Player 11

I personally do not own an Apple Ipod, so for years I have used Windows Media Player (WMP) as my primary music jukebox, and I will always be using it. For everyone who owns a PlaysForSure (or potential PlaysForSure via firmware update) mp3 player, can use their device natively with WMP10 and up.

The new media player comes equipped with the URGE music store - which is the music store conglomeration of MTV, VH1, and CMT. The store does still happen to be in its early stages, but it is continuaully growing.

Another new appearance to WMP11 is its organization of the music library. You can now organize your music by album cover, browse your artists by album covers, and it will essentially stack all the albums you have of each artist.

Windows Media Player 11 can also be used to view your photo albums, watch digital videos and movies and view recorded TV programs if your PC has a video capture card. WMP11 also has capability to burn your files to an Audio CD, a Data CD and now even a Data DVD.

Media player also has a rip ability, where you can rip your own personal CD's. The default rip options include ripping a CD to WMA, WMApro, WMA with Variable Bit Rate, WMA lossless, MP3, and WAV. WMA can rip up to a bitrate of 192kbps - which is equalivent to MP3 at 320kbps.

Upgrading At an Affordable Price

Every day, people go to a local computer store or log on to a computer manufacturer's website and purchase a new computer, already made by them. My personal mentality over the years has changed. I used to only want a pre-built machine with a 2 year warranty slapped on it. But I don't need the mandatory extra keyboard and mouse that would come with it. I don't need the free printer or monitor - it's nice, but I don't want it. I just want a faster computer.

Keep the computer case you are used to, and only go through a computer makeover!

You would essentially keep the computer case you already own, the keyboard, mouse, monitor. Everything. The only thing you lose is what you won't use anymore - the older hardware. I have just recently figured, that off of Newegg I could do a moderate upgrade to a decent Intel Pentium D 2.66ghz processor at 533 mhz FSB , a gig of dual-channel DDR2 667mhz RAM, and have a motherboard full of growing room (up to 4 gb of DDR2 667 RAM, a gigabit ethernet card, up to 1067 FSB and upgradeable up to an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme). After this upgrade, I would have only spent just over $300. I would still have my hard drive (although a reinstall of Windows should be done), my Audigy Soundcard that I love and adore, my ATI Radeon 9500, and even have an extra network card to serve for emergencies. And what's best, is the older hardware can be used on lesser powerful machines, so it works beautifully for everyone. This upgrade not only would have me set for the processor I would have and the power I could get out of it, but it is also getting me ready for the latest and greatest of Intel's Core 2's.

And what's even greater is that I am already moved to a 64-bit machine. The Intel Pentium D processor I will buy is 64-bit capable, which means that whenever Vista 64-bit is up and off to the races, I will have it installed and ready to fire my computer away in an extreme, 64-bit, workspace for multimedia, gaming, audio recording, and school work.

Until next time.

Here is my upgrade wish list on Newegg's site, for those interested.

The Vista Low-Down... or Pretty Low

Most people have heard the news about the new Windows Vista operating system to be released in 2007. And most have probably also heard that it requires insanely top-of-the-line hardware or at least the latest and greatest of them all.

Allow me to remove that thought from you.

Ok, on this very desktop that I am typing this blog, I am running what would be considered a dinasaur of a PC. Allow me to show you:

As you see in the above picture, I have a Pentium 4 1.6 ghz proccesor (using 533 FSB) with no Hyper-Threading support, and 512 MB of DDR PC2100 RAM. My video card is also an ATI Radeon 9500 non-pro card and it fully supports AERO superbly. This computer, if you don't much about hardware, is old. It is near the end of what once was a great reign.

This reign, however, is not over. It performs rather well with Vista, including the AERO effects.

I tested out the 3d Switcher and moving between multiple windows while playing a movie, to see if the movie preview ever skipped or stuttered, and it never once skipped a frame or anything. Here's a shot of what I had done:

The closest windows is X-Men 3 playing in Windows Media Player 11

As you can see, Vista does not scare older hardware like many critics may have claimed. Now, I wouldn't try running it on something less than a 1 gHz CPU and anything under 512mb of RAM, but this hardware I am using will greatly suffice to Vista's needs.