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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Razer Blade review (2014): a 'no-compromise' premium gaming laptop


LOOK AND FEEL

Unpacking Razer's latest gaming laptop gives me some serious déjà vu: This newest model echoes the form, design and packaging of last year's model, even down to the smallest details. Everything here is familiar; its aluminum hull and meager port selection (three USB connections and HDMI-out) haven't changed at all. For a moment there, I was worried -- has Razer's notebook team grown complacent? Is the Blade slipping into a pattern of iterative hardware refreshes? No, thankfully; not just yet. There are notable changes here. They're just fairly subtle.
Still, my first impression wasn't wrong: This is the same thin chassis Razer designed last year -- it has the same keyboard, flanked by the same stereo speakers and headlined by the same black power button. The aforementioned ports are accompanied only by an AC plug and an audio jack. It's refreshingly simple and elegant -- kind of like a MacBook Pro draped in black with green keyboard backlighting. It's so lovely, in fact, that I almost didn't notice the notebook's one visual refinement: the reflective glass surface of the new touchscreen display.
It seems like a small change, but it makes a difference: The Blade's touch panel makes the new model's lid just a hair thicker than last year's version, increasing the laptop's overall girth to 0.7 inch. It's still gloriously thin, but it's no longer slimmer than the MacBook Air at its thickest point -- rendering my favorite bit of Razer trivia sadly obsolete. The machine has put on a little weight too: It now tips the scales at 4.47 pounds. Even so, these changes are minor; the Blade is still the best-looking gaming laptop on the market. A marginally thicker waist and a slightly heavier frame don't change that.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

The Razer Blade's 80-button keyboard serves as a reminder of what Razer used to be. Before it started making lighted key interfaces, gaming laptops and overpowered tablets, the company was known for building PC gaming peripherals, and that history shows. The chiclet keyboard is a joy to type on, with firm keys that depress with a light click and just the right amount of downward travel. It also boasts niche features like anti-ghosting, and has fully programmable, macro-ready keys. That said, it's not quite perfect -- the keyboard still lacks a hotkey to disable the Windows button (though this can be accomplished through Razer's Synapse software).
Although the touchpad hasn't undergone any physical changes since last year, it seems to perform a little better. It's still a large, smooth surface with a pair of quiet, if slightly mushy buttons, but it handles Windows 8 gestures better than the 2013 model did. That trackpad, if you'll recall, had an occasional tendency to zoom while scrolling -- an issue I never encountered with Razer's latest system. It's a good mouser, but I'm still not completely sold on its left and right clickers. They do the job, but their quiet depressions just feel out of sync with the satisfying clicks of the keyboard.

DISPLAY AND SOUND

As much as we loved Razer's previous Blade laptops, they all fell short in the display department. Middling screens with poor viewing angles and low resolutions (specifically in the 14-inch Blade and Razer's Edge tablet) were the standard -- they got the job done, but they were nothing special. Finally, that's changing: The new 14-inch Razer Blade features a bright, 400-nit, 3,200 x 1,800 panel. It's a gorgeous answer to its predecessor, with bright colors, wide viewing angles and a resolution befitting a high-performance gaming rig. At worst, it loses a little brightness when you view it from off-center, but its colors don't run until you gaze at it from extreme, impractical angles.
Games and high-resolution content look stunning on the screen, of course, but it forces yetanother comparison between Razer and Apple. Specifically, I mean Cupertino's MacBook Pro with Retina display: The Blade's new panel is excellent (it's true), but not everything scales well. Programs like Origin insist on displaying text, icons and windows optimized for a 1080p display, making them appear miniscule at the Blade's default resolution (Razer tells me that patch for this is incoming, however). Similarly, games configured to run at 1080p will be displayed in a large, black border unless the Blade's desktop resolution is dialed down to match. While this isn't a hard task to accomplish, it makes running games on the laptop a little less user-friendly; I found I had to be far more mindful of game and display settings than usual.
The Blade's new panel is also a touchscreen, a feature that initially took me off guard. I couldn't help but wonder if it was included as a compromise for the Blade's orphaned Switchblade interface. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan tells me it's just the opposite. "We set out to design a truly no-compromise product," he said. "Windows 8 was designed with a touchscreen in mind." It's true; the Windows 8 Start Screen fares much better under the tip of a finger than the pointer of a mouse. Still, Tan admitted that touchscreens aren't for everyone, joking that Razer happens to make plenty of gaming mice, too.
It's hard to find fault with the Blade's speakers. Sitting on either side of the machine's keyboard, they offer loud, clear and well-separated stereo sound. They don't pump out a particularly rich sound, but they don't come off as cheap or tinny, either. Naturally, a proper gaming headset will trump any embedded speaker, but the Blade's stereo drivers sounded fine to me. Average, perhaps -- but fine.

PERFORMANCE, BATTERY LIFE AND SOFTWARE

PCMARK7PCMARK VANTAGE3DMARK063DMARK11ATTO (TOP DISK SPEEDS)
Razer Blade 14-inch (2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GTX 870M 3GB)5,66419,99424,255E9,533 / P6,541 / X2,236542 MB/s (reads); 257 MB/s (writes)
MSI GS60 Ghost (2.4GHz Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB)5,90922,60222,898E7,908, / P5,152 / X1,519537 MB/s (reads); 495 MB/s (writes)
Alienware 14 (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA GTX 765M 2GB)5,31021,50220,868E6,529 / P4,211507 MB/s (reads); 418 MB/s (writes)
Alienware 17 (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB)5,64722,11427,137E10,638 / P7,246509 MB/s (reads); 420 MB/s (writes)
Digital Storm Veloce (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ, GeForce GTX 765M 2GB)6,10721,37920,340E6,696 / P4,353506 MB/s (reads); 196 MB/s (writes)
2013 Razer Blade 14-inch(2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ, GeForce GTX 765M)5,83719,50519,815E6,364 / P4,161546 MB/s (reads); 253 MB/s (writes)
MSI GT70 Dragon Edition (2013) (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, GeForce GTX 780M)6,11120,250N/AE10,519 / P7,4161.19 GB/s (reads); 806 MB/s (writes)
Razer Edge Pro (1.9GHz Core i7-3517U, NVIDIA GT 640M LE 2GB)4,94913,53610,260E2,507 / P1,576409 MB/s (reads); 496 MB/s (writes)
Samsung Series 7 Gamer(2.30GHz Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 675M)N/A11,51521,131N/AN/A
Last year, Razer reined in the Blade's performance by anchoring it to a mediocre, low-resolution display. It was a practical move that created an intentional bottleneck -- if games can't run at higher resolutions, they aren't likely to outpace the machine's GPU. The 2014 Blade has no such limitations; its 3,200 x 1,800 panel leapfrogs the display capabilities of most gaming portables, leaving the user to choose just how far they want to push their in-game settings. It's a welcome change, but it's not necessarily a user-friendly one. Razer Blade owners now have to consider their in-game settings more carefully than ever.
In an ideal situation, most PC gamers would want to run their favorite titles at the maximum configurable visual settings at their monitor's native resolution -- a challenging proposition on all but the most powerful gaming rigs. The new Blade has plenty of power, of course -- a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702HQ CPU, 8GB of DDR3L RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics -- but its enormous display resolution stretches even those internals to their limit. Tuned to ultra or very high-quality settings, most games stuttered at 3,200 x 1,800.Battlefield 4, The Witcher 2, Thief and Crysis 3 all struggled to break 15-20 fps in our tests, reaching playable frame rates only after I downgraded the settings (BF4 managed 36 fps on high, for instance, and a strong 50 fps on medium). Although some games took to the ultra-high resolution naturally (BioShock InfiniteThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Dark Souls IIaveraged 32, 30 and 40 fps on maximum settings, respectively), reducing the resolution produces more consistently impressive results.
At 1,920 x 1,080, the Blade can handle almost anything. Battlefield 4 bounced between 54 fps and 45 fps on maximum settings, depending on the map, with Thief and The Witcher 2seeing similar gains to 40 fps and 50 fps, respectively. Crysis 3 stubbornly refused to break 30 fps at its highest visual settings, but managed to hit 40 fps when I stepped down to the second-best configuration. Games that tolerated the laptop's native display size fared even better, boasting frame rates in excess of 60, sometimes 70, frames per second. Still, many titles wouldn't run at full screen in 1080p unless I scaled down the Blade's desktop resolution. It's a minor inconvenience, but it can be irritating if you prefer the panel's native resolution for general use.
BATTERY LIFE
Razer Blade (2014)4:27
Razer Blade 14-inch6:24
MSI GT70 Dragon Edition4:34
Razer Edge Pro3:40
Razer Blade 2.03:29
MSI GS60 Ghost3:13
Alienware 143:07
Alienware 172:55
Digital Storm Veloce2:53
MSI GT702:49
MSI GT683DXR2:40
Samsung Series 7 Gamer2:11
2011 Sony VAIO F Series2:07
Qosmio X775-3DV781:26
While the Blade's internals didn't leave me wanting for power, its screaming performance comes at a price: battery life. Our standard rundown test exhausted the machine after four hours and 27 minutes -- a respectable runtime for a gaming laptop, but still a solid two hours short of last year's model. It's understandable, I suppose -- Haswell giveth and Haswell (or perhaps the Blade's gorgeous display panel) taketh away. Still, it's always sad to see a machine lose longevity from one year to the next. Oh, and that power generates a fair bit of heat, too: The area just above the keyboard and part of the machine's underside can get quite hot during gaming sessions. Keep your pants on, literally, or risk burning your legs.
The Razer Blade is traditionally lightweight on pre-installed software, and the latest iteration is no exception. A freshly unpacked Blade is outfitted with little more than Windows 8.1, a handful of drivers and Razer's own Synapse software -- a device, backlight and keyboard macro manager. It's almost nothing, and that's perfectly fine.

CONFIGURATION OPTIONS AND THE COMPETITION

When the Blade first hit the scene in 2012, it was expensive -- almost prohibitively so -- but Razer kept knocking down the price with each successive release. That trend seems to be over -- this year's Blade costs $400 more than its predecessor, regardless of configuration. It's pricey, but also powerful: Our $2,400 review unit is kitted out with a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor (3.2GHz with Turbo Boost), 8GB of DDR3L-1600MHz RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics (3GB GDDR5 VRAM), a 256GB solid-state drive and a 14-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 QHD+ multitouch display. Customization begins and ends with the machine's SSD -- it can be doubled for $300 or halved, a move that shaves $200 off the price.
Razer does offer a larger Blade too, but it's not quite the same machine. The 17-inch Blade Pro starts at $2,300, and features a 2.4GHz/3.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU, 16GB of DDR3L RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M GPU (2GB of GDDR5 VRAM). It also boasts Razer's unique Switchblade interface -- a collection of programmable keys, each with their own embedded LED display. Its display panel isn't a touchscreen like the 14-inch model's screen, but it's a good choice for buyers intimidated by higher resolutions: It tops out at 1080p.
Most of the Blade's competition comes in the form of larger, but less expensive systems -- but if your heart is set on a thin machine, take a look at MSI's GS60 Ghost. This machine isn't quite as thin as the new Razer Blade, but it matches the Blade Pro's internal components part for part, and then some. In addition to all the above specs, the Ghost boasts a 1TB HDD for storage and a lower price of $1,800.

WRAP-UP

Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan describes the 2014 Razer Blade as a "no-compromise" gaming laptop, and that's almost accurate. Between the machine's screaming graphics performance, its thin chassis and that new QHD+ touchscreen, I was hard-pressed to find a legitimate complaint. Even so, the shadow of compromise is indeed here. The 14-inch Blade's enhancements undo one of the previous models' best features: battery life. Lasting only about four hours on a single charge, the new Blade still has a decent runtime (for a gaming machine), but it used to be exemplary. It's a loss worth mourning.
It's also worth noting that the new Blade is the first in the product's history to launch with a higher price than the previous model, further solidifying it as a premium gaming machine that won't compromise features for the sake of price. Either way, Razer's 2014 Blade is the company's best laptop yet, trumping its previous machine in nearly every regard. If you've got deep pockets, an appreciation for finely crafted electronics and the know-how to navigate the machine's enormous touch display, you may have found your next laptop.
86
Razer

Blade (2014)

PROS
  • Fast and powerful
  • Great 3,200 x 1,800 display
  • Slim, compact and attractive
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Screen resolution can undercut performance
  • Shorter battery life than the 2013 model
CONCLUSIONThe newest Razer Blade is the company's best laptop yet, but it trades epic battery life for an exceptional display.

Original Source : Engadget

Why You Only Really Need Three Friends

Credit: HBO / Courtesy Everett


According to Oxford University anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who has studied human relationships in societies from the Stone Age to Facebook, most people are capable of maintaining stable relations with about 150 others. Within that 150 – a figure now known as Dunbar's number – Dunbar has identified smaller concentric "circles of intimacy."

Healthy people, he says, maintain a 10- to 15-member "sympathy group" (the death of any of whom would cause distress) and three to five close friends who can be relied upon in times of trouble. If your own friend count falls within that range, you're doing fine.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for most of us. According to data compiled by the University of Chicago's General Social Survey, between 1985 and 2004, the median size of networks of personal confidants – groups of genuine intimates – decreased from 2.94 people to 2.08. Worse still, the GSS found that in 2004, 25 percent of Americans reported having nobody to talk to at all.




Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/why-you-only-really-need-three-friends-20140423#ixzz310CpYknA 


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How to declutter your wardrobe for the new season


Fed up with a daily battle with your overcrowded wardrobe?  As we switch seasons it’s time to clear out the wardrobe and make way for some new stylish pieces.
Get sorted with these tips from www.musicmagpie.co.uk and fashion stylist Lucy Turner…
Take everything out of your wardrobe and bin anything damaged and tatty immediately.  While your wardrobe is empty, give it a quick whizz round with the hoover!
Sort the remaining clothes into 3 piles – keep, store and sell.  Be ruthless – if it hasn’t seen the light of day for six months –it’s time to say goodbye!
Your store pile should contain items you know you’ll wear again, like out of season clothes and special occasion outfits that you don’t need daily access to.
Make sure everything in the store pile is clean, and tackle any niggling jobs like missing buttons and loose hems before you pack them away into storage bags.  Stash them in the loft, garage or under a bed – anywhere except your wardrobe! But remember to ask yourself – ‘Will I ever really wear this again?’ – if not then sell it.
Enter the details of everything in your sell pile into www.musicMagpie.co.uk for an instant free quote. There’s no seller fees, no auction, no hassle. You’d be amazed how much money your clothes can generate!  Once you’ve got your quote, just pack up your gear – it’s free to send too.
Hang clothes according to type – trousers, dresses, jackets etc. so you can immediately see what you have.  Investing in slim line hangers will instantly double your hanging space.
Turn your hangers round so they all face the same direction.  Whenever you wear something hang it back facing the opposite direction.  Review your wardrobe again in 6 months, anything still facing the original direction in 6 months should be stored or sold.

by  for www.femalefirst.co.uk

A User's Guide to Aftershave



"Shaving does more than remove hair," says Dr. Terrence Keaney, director of the dermatology clinic at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. "It sweeps the skin's natural hydration and protective barrier off the neck, chin, and cheek and leaves the face prone to irritation." The problem goes away, we are told, if we cap things off with an aftershave. An easy solution that's somehow become not so simple. There are aftershave tonics, lotions, balms, and even gels housing a slew of ingredients; all promising to soothe, nourish, and make your face look smooth. 


"The difference between balms, gels, lotions, and tonics are the bases, or vehicles that carry the active ingredients," he says. Tonics are usually made from alcohol, witch hazel, or are water-based. Lotions are light, easily absorbed, water-based –  as are gels, which are even more aqueous and readily soaked up by the skin. Finally, balms are the heaviest and hardest to absorb, and are based in a mix of thicker lipids and water. Each work, so finding the right active ingredients is a trial and error personal decision based on what fits with your skin type.

Here's a cheat sheet based for what aftershave is best for you.


Lotion

Lotion is perfect if you've got normal to oily skin (if tissue sticks to your neck and you're not sweating, you skew oily). Use a lotion if you are getting a good shave with no complications or just a slight level of redness.

Tonic
Made for guys who tend to experience cuts and nicks when shaving. Because they're based in antiseptics like alcohol or witch hazel, they can prevent infection. If you have dry skin (it's flakey and feels taut) or sensitive skin (you get post-shave rashes) you will want to avoid alcohol and instead use a witch hazel, which is more gentle. Either way, follow up with a moisturizing product (lotions for normal skin, balms for dry skin) since tonics tend to be light on any moisturizing elements and the base alcohol and witch hazel are naturally drying.

Balm

These are ideal for men with dry skin that are also prone to cuts and nicks. Balms are ultra lubricating and stay towards the surface of the skin, which is especially important post-shave when it is in dire need of protective and soothing elements.They're the thickest and heaviest on the oils of the lot, meaning they don't give the skin much room to breathe. Use sparingly if you've got acne prone skin and especially in the heat, where a balm can block sweat.

Gel
These calm, clean, and lightly moisturize normal to oily skin. They're best at cooling post-shave burning and because the skin soaks gels up fast, they are a good choice for humid climates or if you know you're going to be sweating right after shaving. That said, the fast absorption may not be moisturizing enough for some.


Nothing

Skipping all of these might seem like the easiest aftershave of all, especially if you're using a moisturizer regularly, but Dr. Keaney makes the case for keeping your regiment as specific as possible. "Regular moisturizers are not crafted with special ingredients to sooth and calm inflamed skin, which is exactly what an aftershave is doing."




Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/grooming/a-users-guide-to-aftershave-20140423#ixzz310ACAWrf 


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Hot cross buns - 20 ways to burn off the calories


As Easter treats go, it’s hard to go past the traditional hot cross bun, toasted with a dollop of butter that trickles over the raisins and down your chin
Tempted to scoff a second? We don’t blame you. But be warned - despite a modest footprint, a single hottie contains as many calories as a decent-size choccie egg. Don’t let it stand between you and the toaster, but when you’re done, meet us at the back door and we’ll burn it off together.
20 ways to burn off the calories
1. Hit the waves for 85 minutes of surfing.
2. Offer to do your partner or housemate‘s ironing (as well as doing your own). In 2 hours 15 minutes you’ll have that bun well and truly off.
3. Book an hour-long trail ride. Yes, sitting - believe it.
4. Clean your teeth for three minutes. Times 50.
5. Reply to all the emails you’ve flagged to follow up later. At 204 minutes you’ll be bun free.
6. Sit there mocking the folks on My Kitchen Rules? Dare you to do better - your 2 hours cooking time starts now.
7. Hit your favourite department store for 120 minutes of retail therapy. Now how smart does online shopping sound?
8. Wash and vacuum the car for a total of 1 hour 6 minutes.
9. Find a new outfit in your existing wardrobe. About 150 minutes of trying on clothes ought to do it.
10. Pash your significant other for 2 1⁄2 hours.
11. Forget catching up for coffee. Ask a friend to play frisbee for 90 minutes.
12. Channel your inner Matisse and paint for 1.5 hours to brush of the cals.
13. Take an hour-long tai chi class.
14. Put your phone on silent and settle in for a 4-hour Frasier marathon.
15. Get Fido fit by going for walkies for around 80 minutes (but leave the Schmackos at home).
16. Test your stamina between the sheets. For every 85 minutes you’ll burn half a hot cross bun.
17. Re-stock the firewood pile ready for the first chilly nights. You only need 40 minutes’ chopping.
18. Fill a green bag with groceries from the pantry and run up and down the stairs for 35 minutes.
19. Who says aqua aerobics is only for seniors? A single class will blow the dough out of the water.
20. Spend 80 minutes putting together an Ikea bookcase.
* Based on a 65kg female and 85g traditional hot cross bun.

Source : womenshealthandfitness.com.au

The Benefits of Calorie Restriction

Credit: Viktor Neimanis / Getty Images


A new report in Nature Communications offers the first concrete evidence that a calorie restricted diet – when planned responsibly – can prolong life and help prevent certain diseases. The study, which examined the diets of rhesus monkeys, confirms the connection between food and lifespan in primates and experts strongly believe the findings pertain to humans as well.

The study began in 1989 when researchers at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in Madison started tracking the health of 76 captive rhesus monkeys. When the monkeys hit adulthood (ages 7 to 14), half of them were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, while the other half were put on a strict, nutrient-dense diet of 30 percent less calories. The results show that the monkeys with unlimited diets were three times more likely to develop chronic disease and die at any age.


According to study co-author Rozalyn Anderson, the calorie-restricted monkeys had better insulin sensitivity, less fat, and healthier lipid levels than the other group – all factors that contribute to lower disease risk. They were also more physically active, which helps delay aging.

"Because monkeys are so closely related to humans, we absolutely believe these results relate to human health," says Anderson. "However, I don't suggest you go out and cut 30 percent of your calories. That would leave most people without enough energy to keep working and living at maximum capacity."

Instead, she suggests taking smaller steps to improve your diet. They could pay off big time down the road. "Small-scale changes can have large-scale health effects, whether in monkeys or in people," she says. 


Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/the-benefits-of-calorie-restriction-20140501#ixzz3107ueNFq
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

If William Shakespeare Had Written Star Wars


“In time so long ago begins our play / In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.”
Though William Shakespeare regularly dominates surveys of the greatest literature of all time, he remains a surprisingly controversial figure of literary history — while some believe The Bard profoundly changed modern life, others question whether he wrote anything at all. Doubts of authorship aside, one thing Shakespeare most certainly didn’t write is the cult-classic Star Wars — but he, as Ian Doescher brilliantly imagines, could have: Behold William Shakespeare’s Star Wars (public library), a masterwork of literary parody on par with the household tips of famous writers andEdgar Allan Poe as an Amazon reviewer.
Accompanying Doescher’s sonnets are ominously beautiful illustrations by Paris-based artist Nicolas Delort.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is delightful in its entirety and the best thing since Star Wars reimagined as a Muppets comic.
Images courtesy of Quirk Books