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Fractal Design Arc XL Review

Fractal Design Arc XL Review

Manufacturer: Fractal Design
UK price (as reviewed):
£101.41 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $129.99 (ex Tax)

The Arc line of Fractal Design cases fall into its performance category. As such, having plenty of airflow is key, as is the ability to install lots of high-end components and water-cooling gear. We’ve been thoroughly impressed by the latest cases in the range, the midi-tower Arc Midi R2 and the micro-ATX Arc Mini R2. With the Arc XL, Fractal has now also seen fit to make an Arc case suitable for those with larger motherboards and components, something it has also done previously with the low-noise Define range of cases.

*Fractal Design Arc XL Review Fractal Design Arc XL Review *Fractal Design Arc XL Review Fractal Design Arc XL Review
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The chassis certainly lives up to the XL in its name. At over 570mm tall it’s capable of housing both E-ATX and XL-ATX motherboards, and is of a similar size to the Corsair Obsidian 750D. As expected, it sports the classic Fractal black and white colour scheme, with white PCI brackets and fan blades. It’s also very much an Arc chassis, with the hefty mesh sections on the roof and front panel along with the large, tinted side panel window ensuring aesthetic uniformity throughout the range. Build quality is of the usual high standards – there’s a little bend to the side panels but that’s just a result of them being so large, and elsewhere the plastic and steel exterior is solid and sturdy.

*Fractal Design Arc XL Review Fractal Design Arc XL Review
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The front mesh section clips on and off with ease thanks to a pair of push pins, and as usual it’s backed by dust filtering material too. Removing it reveals a duo of 140mm/120mm fan mounts, with a single 140mm Silent Series R2 fan mounted in the top one. The design allows you to install fans here without popping off the entire front panel, which is handy. However, above this section are the four covers for the optical drive bays, which do require front panel removal to access.

The I/O panel is located on the roof, and comprises four USB ports (two being USB 3), dualaudio jacks, power and reset buttons and a fan control switch, which has 5V, 7V and 12V settings and can control up to three fans. The action of the power button is fine, but the reset one is too small to use your fingers with – this could become annoying in troubleshooting situations but it does mean you’ll never accidentally press it when fumbling for a USB port or the like.

*Fractal Design Arc XL Review Fractal Design Arc XL Review *Fractal Design Arc XL Review Fractal Design Arc XL Review
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Practically the entire roof is formed from another mesh and dust filter combination. Unlike the front one this cannot be clipped in and out of place, but Fractal recommends simply cleaning it with a hoover while it’s still attached. Beneath it there is room for three 120mm or 140mm fans, with another 140mm Silent Series R2 fan included in the furthest back mount. This is complemented by the case’s third and final fan (the same model), which is fitted as a rear exhaust.

Moving to the bottom of the Arc XL, we find a set of feet that lift the case some way of the ground, and which are fitted with rubber rings to give it excellent grip on all surfaces. A slide out dust filter is fitted here, and it protects both the PSU and the last of the case’s fan mounts, a 140mm/120mm one on the case floor. Unlike many cases, the filter here is relatively easy to replace without having to tilt the case on its side.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 232 x 552 x 572 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black
  • Weight 13.8kg
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, stereo, microphone, fan controller
  • Drive bays 4 x external 5.25in, 8 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 2 x internal 2.5in
  • Form factor(s) E-ATX, XL-ATX, ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX
  • Cooling 2 x 140mm/120mm front fan mounts (1 x 140mm fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm rear fan mount (140mm fan included), 3 x 140mm/120mm or 1 x 180mm and 1 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mounts (1 x 140mm fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm bottom fan mount (fan not included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 180mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 330mm (480mm without HDD cage)
  • Extras Removable dust filters, triple speed fan controller

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Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review

Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review

Manufacturer: Nanoxia
UK price (as reviewed):
£64.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): Currently unavailable

As the name suggests, the top priority of Nanoxia’s Deep Silence range of cases is noise reduction. While a bespoke water-cooling system can do wonders for your system’s noise output, cases designed specifically to contain noise are an easier and more financially realistic option for most people. The noise (or rather the lack thereof) of the Deep Silence 1 and Deep Silence 2 chassis certainly impresses, but cooling performance also takes a hit – a classic trade-off. We’re now looking at the Deep Silence 4 (Deep Silence 3 having apparently been skipped), which brings the now familiar design to the micro-ATX form factor for an attractive £65.

*Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review *Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review
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The Deep Silence 4 is available in three different colours, and each one has a nice brushed metal effect on the plastic front section. Elsewhere, there’s little visual fanfare, but like the Fractal Design Define series the case is modest looking and refined. Build quality on the outside is good all round, and the feet have large rubber pads to contain vibrations, and they also provide the case with plenty of grip and clearance.

The Deep Silence 4 features a case door that occupies the top third of the front panel. Opening it up reveals the reset button and the two optical drive covers, which can easily be clipped in and out of place. You’ll also find an impressively powerful set of fan controllers for so small and cheap a case. Each of the two variable speed sliders can be used to control the speed of up to three fans each.

*Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review *Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review
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While we can’t complain about the ability to control six fans, it’s a little odd given that you can sadly install just three to the chassis itself, including the two that are bundled with it. These 120mm Deep Silence models, which have green blades, are fitted in the front intake and rear exhaust positions. The third and final fan mount, which can take both 120mm and 140mm models, is found in the roof, as the two side panels and the floor of the case are devoid of any extra ones. While we understand that the Deep Silence 4 is designed for low noise, having such a limited ability to expand upon the default cooling is nonetheless disappointing.

The front intake pulls air in through small vents on the sides of the front panel, as well as a single larger one beneath it. It’s blocked off entirely at the front, however, so airflow from this fan is unlikely to be that high, even at full speed.

*Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review *Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review
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Thick, spongy material designed to suppress noise lines the inside of the front door. Sadly, the bottom section of the front has no door, but it too is backed by noise dampening material, as are both side panels and the roof. The roof even includes a foam-backed blanking plate for the single fan mount, which is excellent to see – your case will be quieter and protected from dust when you’re not using this mount. A slide out dust filter is also provided for the PSU, while the front fan has its own one too (though you’ll need to pop the front panel off to access it), meaning the Deep Silence 4 is fully shielded against dust.

The final thing of note on the case’s exterior is the front panel connections. There’s nothing special here, though with two USB 3 ports alongside a USB 2 one and the usual audio jacks, there’s easily enough for a £65 case.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 200 x 480 x 380 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black, anthracite (reviewed), white
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, USB 2, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 2 x external 5.25in, 6 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 1 x internal 2.5in
  • Form factor(s) Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
  • Cooling 1 x 120mm front fan mount (fan included), 1 x 120mm rear fan mount (fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mount (fan not included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 160mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 265mm (395mm without HDD cage)
  • Extras Dual channel variable speed fan control, removable dust filters

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Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review

Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK price (as reviewed):
£37.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $54.99 (ex Tax)

Budget enclosures are rarely the most exciting, but they’re a necessary and crucial part of the market due to the sheer volume of cases sold at lower price points, especially in developing economies around the world. Thankfully, such products have come a long way in recent years, so even if you’re not paying top dollar you don’t need to settle for sacrificing basic features and build quality.

Corsair, one of the most well known chassis manufacturers, is now setting its sights on the high volume budget market with three cases launching today under the Carbide Series Spec brand. The Spec-01, which we’re looking at here, is the cheapest of the bunch at just £38, and also Corsair’s cheapest enclosure to date. Its previous budget Carbide case, the 200R, had lots of features and build quality but was lacking in the cooling department, so hopefully the Spec-01 will improve on this.

*Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review **NDA 11/04 2pm** Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review *Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review **NDA 11/04 2pm** Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review
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Externally, the Spec-01 is no dull black box, but as ever its styling won’t be to everyone’s taste. The thick vertical grilles at the front guard the case’s red LED 120mm intake fan. Meanwhile, both side panels are extruded, with the left one also housing a large square window.

Build quality is very respectable on the outside. The front panel may be plastic, but it’s thick and rigid and doesn’t bend or creak, and though the case is fairly light its steel panels have only a little flex when pressure is applied. Our one small gripe is that the plastic feet have no rubber soles, so there’s little grip on smooth surfaces.

*Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review **NDA 11/04 2pm** Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review
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Below the front 120mm fan is a second 120mm mount. There are also two empty 120mm mounts on the roof and a further one at the rear, for a total of five. Even at £38, we were a little disappointed to find that the front intake is the case’s only fan. We’ve seen similarly priced cases such as the NZXT Source 210 and Antec One ship with two fans. Also, even when limited to one fan we’d pick a rear or roof exhaust position over a front intake, as this is typically more effective at cooling. The empty mounts do mean that the CPU area is at least well ventilated, so there are openings through which heat can rise, but without fans to exhaust air faster overclocked systems may find the CPU and VRM areas rapidly getting hot when the system is under load.

*Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review **NDA 11/04 2pm** Corsair Carbide Series Spec-01 Review
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One thing that’s good to see in so cheap a case is dust filtering material, which is fitted to the rear of the front grilles. It’s not independently removable but the front panel itself is easy to pop off for cleaning. There’s also a slide out filter beneath the PSU, though like many such designs it can be difficult to replace properly without lifting the case up slightly. One overlooked area is the roof, where the empty fan mounts are unshielded from dust, though it’s rare to see filters in this location at this end of the market.

The I/O panel includes a single USB 3 port with an internal header, alongside the usual audio jacks and a USB 2 port. It’s a shame that both USB ports aren’t USB 3 ones, but one is still better than none. There’s no built in fan control, but the power and reset buttons are solid and satisfying to press. Beneath the I/O panel are the two 5.25-inch drive bay covers.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 200 x 413 x 467 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black
  • Front panel Power, reset, USB 3, USB 2, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 2 x external 5.25in, 4 x internal 3.5in/2.5in
  • Form factor(s) ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX
  • Cooling 2 x 140/120mm front fan mounts (1 x 120mm fan included), 1 x 120mm rear fan mount 2 x 120mm roof fan mounts (fans not included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 165mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 420mm
  • Extras Removable dust filters

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Antec ISK600 Review

Antec ISK600 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed): £53.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $64.99 {ex TAX)
Preferred Partner Price: 53.98 (inc VAT)

Although Antec is one of the bigger household names of the case market, it’s presence in the mini-ITX segment is fairly small. Looking to change that, the company has recently released the ISK600. Even for a mini-ITX chassis it’s on the small side, but as you’ll see you can still cram quite a lot of hardware inside, and at £55 it’s also very affordable, though not quite as much as the £40 Cooler Master Elite 130.

Antec ISK600 Review Antec ISK600 Review
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While the Cooler Master case is cheaper and has a similar size and shape, it lacks something that we think many here will appreciate about the ISK600: aluminium. The core ISK600 chassis is built from steel, but the entire n-shaped lid is hewn from this premium case material, which helps explain the small price premium. The brushed effect is very pleasing to the eye, though it does pick up marks easily, so you’ll want to give it a wipe once you’ve finished your build. The aluminium also has the advantage of retaining the case’s great build quality while keeping it light – it tips the scales at less than 3kg.

Cooling comes courtesy of a single 120mm rear exhaust fan, and this is all that there’s room for without modification. This isn’t a lot of airflow by any means, but the case’s small volume means that you don’t need a lot to be effective. The fan will create a negative air pressure inside the chassis, which will draw air in through the small slits in the front panel as well as the larger mesh sections on the sides of the lid (which serve the GPU and front-mounted PSU). This is an effect to which internal CPU and GPU coolers will also contribute, though bare in mind there are no dust filters on this case.

Antec ISK600 Review Antec ISK600 Review
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The plastic front panel is generally well built, though the power and reset buttons do feel cheap and tacky. Besides these are the standard audio jacks, as well as a USB 3 and USB 2 port, though there’s no external fan control. In the interests of space, Antec has opted for a slimline optical drive mount rather than a full 5.25-inch one.

Above the I/O connections is also a thin strip, which is actually a molex powered light that glows blue when the system is on. Thankfully, the glow is subtle and pleasant rather than blindingly bright, and you can easily disconnect it if you find it to be a distraction. The final thing of note on the case’s exterior is the set of rubber feet, which mean the ISK600 stays firmly planted despite weighing so little.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 260 x 369 x 195 (W x D x H)
  • Material Aluminium, steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black
  • Weight 2.95kg
  • Front panel Power, reset, USB 3, USB 2, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 1 x external slimline optical, 3 x internal 3.5in, 2 x internal 2.5in
  • Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
  • Cooling 1 x 120mm rear fan mount (fan included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 170mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 315mm
  • Extras Illuminated front panel, internal dual-speed fan control

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Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review

Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK price (as reviewed):
£144.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $179.99 (ex Tax)
Preferred Partner Price: £146.52 (inc VAT)

It was only a couple of days ago that we looked at Corsair’s sub-£100 Obsidian 450D. We found that it was a solid all rounder but there’s no denying that its aesthetics are rather plain. Combating this is the Graphite series of chassis, for which Corsair reserves bolder and racier designs, with the bright orange 230T being the most recent example. Today marks the launch of the 760T and 730T, two new additions to the Graphite range. We’re looking at the bigger of the two, the 760T. Our white edition will set you back a hefty £145, with the black one currently a little less at £138. Samples are expected in the channel in early April.

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Naturally, assessing a case’s looks is a subjective process, but even so it would be difficult to describe the 760T as plain. In fact, we’d say it looks rather stunning. The protruding front section is neat, but the side panels are the stars of the show. The left one in particular really stands out, as it’s made almost entirely from high gloss polycarbonate, which is translucent and thus essentially acts as a giant window, giving you a clear view of whatever tasty hardware you happen to stash inside.

Both panels are devoid of fan mounts but are wonderfully easy to use. Each one features a sizeable handle near the front, and pulling this allows you to swing the panels wide open as they are hinged at the back. You can also easily lift them off their hinges should you need. The one downside to this design is that the panels are very unsteady and wobbly when they’re open. That said, this simply isn’t an issue when you close them up again, as the handles keep them securely in place and flush with the rest of the chassis.

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The case is certainly a large one. Round the back you’ll find nine expansion slots, as it’s actually large enough to accommodate both E-ATX and XL-ATX motherboards. The large, wide feet (which come with rubber pads for additional grip), boost the case’s height even more, and also give it plenty of clearance, which is useful both for the PSU (guarded by a slide out dust filter), and for the bottom 120mm fan mount, should you choose to use it.

While the base fan mount is empty, the 760T does ship with three 140mm fans. You’ll find two white LED models behind the front mesh and dust filter section and a third one in the rear exhaust position. There is also a trio of 120mm fan mounts, complete with rubberised mounting holes, in the roof, though can install a pair of 140mm fans instead too. These roof mounts are shielded by a magnetic plastic cover so as to protect your system against dust and spills. However, even if you choose to only use one roof mount, you’ll need to expose the entire section of fan mounts, which will leave your hardware open to the elements since no dust filter for this area is provided. Also, the cover itself is a little flimsy and prone to picking up marks, at least on our white version.

*Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review **NDA TODAY 1PM** Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review *Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review **NDA TODAY 1PM** Corsair Graphite Series 760T Review
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The final things of note on the outside are the three optical drive bays, the top one of which has a stealth cover to preserve the case’s aesthetic, and the I/O panel, which is found along the top. It’s well connected, featuring two USB 2 and two USB 3 ports as well as the usual audio jacks, power and reset switches and a dual speed fan control button too.

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm) 246 x 564 x 568 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black, white
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 3 x external 5.25in, 6 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 4 x internal 2.5in
  • Form factor(s) XL-ATX, E-ATX, ATX, micro-ATX
  • Cooling 2 x 140/120mm front fan mounts (2 x 140mm fans included), 1 x 140/120mm rear fan mount (140mm fan included), 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm roof fan mounts, 1 x 120mm bottom fan mount (fans not included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 180mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 460mm
  • Extras Removable dust filters, dual speed fan control

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Corsair Raptor K40 Review

Corsair Raptor K40

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK Price: £52.99
US Price: $49.99

Although mechanical keyboards have dropped in price significantly in recent years, you still have to pay quite a premium for one with backlighting and other ‘gaming’ features. That’s where the likes of the Corsair Raptor K40 come in. This keyboard eschews mechanical keys in favour of multi-colour backlighting, extra programmable keys and multimedia keys, all while keeping the price just a speck over £50.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The Corsair Raptor K40 may look just like its more expensive siblings, the Corsair Vengeance K90, K70 and K65, with its black base, non-sunken keys and silver trim, but it’s different in one crucial way: it doesn’t feature any aluminium in its construction. The Vengeance line incorporate, to various degrees, hefty slices of brushed aluminium to give a nice premium feel. In contrast the K40 is all plastic, with its silver section being painted on.

Otherwise it’s a smart-looking well put together keyboard. The black and silver combination looks great and there’s a nice consistency to the matt finishes used – fingerprints on shiny surfaces won’t be a problem here. There’s a bit of flex if you pick it up and twist it but set flat on a table or lap it provides a secure typing surface.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The K40’s cable is 2m long, which is plenty, but isn’t braided and there are no routing options, with it projecting straight out the middle of the back. Meanwhile underneath there are the standard pair of extendable feet for raising the keyboard’s angle of attack. No wrist rest – squishy or otherwise – is included.

In terms of features you’ve got pretty much everything here. There are six dedicated macro/gaming keys, full adjustable backlighting that can be set to one of 16.8million colours and of course there are multimedia controls too.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
The macro keys are ranged down the left edge, where they’re reasonably convenient. We sometimes find that we place our hands incorrectly when extra keys are added here – after all, by habit the pinky always goes on the bottom left most key – and so it is with this keyboard but with practice you learn to avoid this.

The backlighting is very good quality. Corsair has managed to ensure there is absolutely no backlight bleed from this keyboard, which makes for a very neat effect. In contrast the backlighting from, in particular, most mechanical-switch keyboards tends to flood out from underneath the keys, illuminating the base of the keyboard. This somewhat dents the visual appeal of them. This is something that particularly effected the stealthy credentials of the CM Storm Quick Fire TK Stealth for instance.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review
You can of course adjust the backlighting too. There’s a button on the top right edge of the keyboard for adjust intensity, with it cycling through four different levels, including off. For changing the colour you’ll have to download, install and open up the driver.

The 16.8 million colours can be adjusted via RGB sliders, picking from a selection of eight predefined colours or using the full colour chart. There’s also the option to have the ‘true colour’ or the nearest equivalent with maximum brightness. The lighting can also be set to pulse on and off or cycle through the colours, with a further option to have these come on only when the keyboard is idling. It’s an impressively comprehensive selection of options, though the one obvious missing feature is individual or zonal lighting – here it’s all or nothing.

Corsair Raptor K40 Review

We do have one further complaint about the backlighting, which is that it isn’t all that bright, particularly when viewed from a slight angle (i.e. the angle you type at). It’s sufficient for most scenarios but is noticeably dimmer than, for instance, the Logitech G710+. Not that we can think of a circumstance where this would be much of a problem but the point stands.

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World’s largest TV, ‘Big Hoss,’ is as long as a jet

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage looks on during a February tour of the giant TV’s construction.


(Credit:
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and now they have the TV to prove it.

The “Big Hoss” TV was turned on for the first time in front of a live audience Wednesday night at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The screen, built by Panasonic, measures 218 feet wide by 94.6 feet tall. That means it’s longer than Boeing’s biggest 767 (the 400ER), and taller than a seven-story building. To put it in home electronics terms, it’s a 2,852-inch TV. The display features 20,633.64 square feet of HD LED lights that broadcast 4.8 million pixels and 281 trillion colors.

The TV has a 140-degree viewing angle so it can be seen by people in a large swath of seats at the Speedway, and it takes a crew of five people to operate it from within the attached control room. The screen is also allegedly able to handle wind speeds of up to 120 mph, as well as impacts from projectiles like hail, something that was confirmed by workers hitting golf balls at the LEDs, according to ESPN.

So what was all that tech used to show on its big night? An episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new “Cosmos” series, perhaps? An edition of the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” maybe? Nope. This is Nascar country after all, so the first show to air on Big Hoss was an episode of “Duck Dynasty.” In fact, “Duck” Commander CEO Willie Robertson and his wife Korie were on hand for the “big” event.

To cement the screen’s rightful place among its teenier brethren, an adjudicator from the Guinness World Record association will be at the speedway to verify the TV as the world’s largest before the Duck Commander 500 race on Sunday, April 6.

The screen was powered on by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, who used a giant remote control prop to get the job done. About the addition of the screen to the speedway, Gossage said, “You are going to see the replays. You are going to see the up-close, tight shots. The fans won’t miss a thing. It is the ultimate fan amenity. To have the biggest one in the world, that’s just one of those ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ stories that we are really proud to be a part of.”

Now let’s just hope the drivers can keep their eyes on the road and not watch TV while they’re zipping around the track at over 200 mph.

What would be the first show you’d watch on your very own 2,852-inch TV?

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Scuba diving trumps surfing on Saturn’s Titan moon

These would be considered rough waters on Titan.


(Credit:
NASA/Steven Hobbs)

There was a lot of hubbub this week among space geeks about the first spotting of waves on the freaky methane lakes that cover much of Titan, perhaps the most Earth-like spot outside of the real deal in our solar system. But it’s still waaay premature to pack up your space wetsuit and start nagging NASA or Elon Musk to hitch a ride beyond the asteroid belt.

Saturn’s spooky moon has a planet-like atmosphere and liquid covering much of its surface, making it one of the most likely nearby places to harbor (probably very weird) alien life. But while Titan shares a number of Earth-like characteristics such as its craggy peaks, running rivers, and even thunderstorms, it doesn’t appear to have strong enough winds to whip up methane waves on its large lakes.

At least, we haven’t been able to see them during the time we’ve been looking closer with the Cassini spacecraft, which has been cruising around above Saturn and Titan for years now. But as we learned last year, things could be shifting on Titan as the longer seasonal cycle on the moon is finally bringing summer to its lake-filled northern half for the first time since we’ve been watching closely.

Some astronomers think winds and surf season could be in full effect by 2017, so there was plenty of excitement earlier this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference outside of Dallas where researchers discussed measurements of Titan’s surface that seem to hint at the presence of waves, according to Nature.

At least that’s the way the headlines put it this week.

Read further on, however, and the story is that the images taken by Cassini between 2012 and 2013 showed something abnormal on the surface of Punga Mare that could be waves or more accurately, ripples, given that the disturbances were calculated to be no more than a few centimeters high.

“Titan may be beginning to stir,” Ralph Lorenz, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, told the conference. “Oceanography is no longer just an Earth science.”

If the stirrings continue to increase, we could get to witness some very interesting activity on Titan, hopefully before Cassini is scheduled to hurl itself into Saturn’s atmosphere in 2017.

In the meantime, however, Titan still has the smoothest sailing in the solar system. The latest radar measurements, published earlier this month online in Geophysical Research Letters, find that Titan’s second-largest lake, Ligeia Mare, “possesses a mirror-like smoothness.”

“If you could look out on this sea, it would be really still. It would just be a totally glassy surface,” Howard Zebker, professor of geophysics and electrical engineering at Stanford, said in a release.

Zebker also suggests that the lack of motion in Titan’s ocean could be due to something else, like a more viscous topping on the lake surface.

“For example, on Earth, if you put oil on top of a sea, you suppress a lot of small waves,” he said.

His team’s research also determined the depth of Ligeia Mare, which it found to be nearly 500 feet deep in at least one spot.

So maybe it makes more sense to plan a scuba diving vacation on Titan than a surfing excursion. Either way, you can get a feel for the exotic locale in this modeled fly-over:

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Paleontologists discover ‘chicken from hell’ dinosaur

Anzu wyliei
(Credit:
Bob Walters)

A 66-million-year-old dinosaur has been discovered — a birdlike creature that provides palaeontologists with a first in-depth look at an oviraptorosaurian species called Caenagnathidae (SEE-nuh-NAY-thih-DAY) — one that has long been difficult to study, since most remains have only been skeletal fragments.

Named Anzu wyliei (Anzu after a bird-demon from Mesopotamian myth and wyliei after Wylie, the grandson of a Carnegie museum trustee), the new species was put together from three separate skeletons found in North and South Dakota, forming almost one entire skeleton. The resultant dinosaur measures 3.5 metres from nose to tail-tip, weighing in at 225 kilograms (496 pounds), with sharp claws and a feathered body — resembling, according to the researchers, led by Matthew Lamanna of Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, a “chicken from hell.”

“It was a giant raptor, but with a chickenlike head and presumably feathers. The animal stood about 10 feet (3 metres) tall, so it would be scary as well as absurd to encounter,” said University of Utah biology postdoctoral fellow and study co-author Emma Schachner.

“We jokingly call this thing the ‘chicken from hell,’ and I think that’s pretty appropriate,” added Lamanna.

Anzu wyliei
(Credit:
Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

The three partial skeletons were excavated from the Hell Creek rock formation in North and South Dakota, a region famed for its abundance of dino skeletons, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. The new dinosaur would, the researchers said, have resembled a giant flightless bird — much more so than more “typical” theropod species, such as Tyrannosaurus rex. A bony crest, similar to that found on the Australian cassowary, rises on its head, and its legs were long, slender, and strong, also like the cassowary. It had no teeth, but a strong beak, and it was found alongside fossilized feathers, heavily indicating that the dinosaur was feathered.

However, it wasn’t entirely birdlike — its forelimbs were tipped with sharp claws, and it had a long, strong tail.

The discovery is the first clear skeleton found belonging to the Caenagnathidae since the species was first discovered and described by paleontologist Charles Whitney Gilmore 100 years ago. It has allowed researchers for the first time to explore in greater detail Caenagnathid anatomy, and reconstruct the species’ evolution. Its anatomy and environment have also delivered new information about Caenagnathid diet and habitat preferences; the dinosaurs, the team believes, were omnivores that preferred humid floodplain environments.

Anzu in particular seems to have lived a pretty dangerous life; two of the three skeletons show evidence of breaks and fractures. However, the fact that these injuries had healed indicated that the hell-chickens were hardy, able to survive quite a bit of trauma.

A fully articulated cast of the dinosaur is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the full research paper can be seen online in the journal PLOS One.

(Source: Crave Australia)

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OK, Glass, have an NBA player dunk in my face

Sacramento Kings guard Ray McCollum slams home a dunk during a scrimmage while wearing Google Glass.


(Credit:
James Martin/CNET)

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–”This is the real Google,” taunted Sacramento Kings guard Orlando Johnson.

Johnson leaned in, dribbling a basketball, ready to explode to the hoop. Only teammates Ray McCallum and Jason Thompson stood in the way. Through the
Google Glass I was wearing, I watched Thompson prepare to stop Johnson. From Thompson’s exact point of view.

Moments earlier, I’d watched as McCallum had dribbled in, jumped high in the air, and dunked the ball hard. My view? A look at the rim from a couple of feet away, close enough to see the stitches on the net, again from Thompson’s vantage point,

Each of the three Kings was wearing Glass, and each was recording as they worked their way through an informal shootaround hours before the night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. As they played, they taunted and bragged, well aware of the technology they were wearing. “Google, record that,” one shouted as he made a sweet shot. “Google, stop Ray,” Johnson commanded.

Johnson, McCallum, and Thompson were wearing Google Glass as part of a new program the Kings have started that is designed to let fans see things like shootarounds, pre-game workouts, and even in-game huddles from the players’ perspective. Using technology developed by San Francisco’s CrowdOptic, the Kings plan on making feeds from Glass being worn by players, announcers, the team’s mascot, and even its cheerleaders, available during games to anyone running its app on their own Glass, on TV, and on the arena’s JumboTron. Unfortunately, players will not wear Glass during actual game action.

A Sacramento Kings cheerleader dances while wearing Google Glass. Her view was broadcast to the team’s JumboTron during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.


(Credit:
James Martin/CNET)

The Kings’ experiment is an interesting one that promises to offer fans a unique new look at game day action. Along with other experiments, like accepting Bitcoin, using drones to shoot video inside the team’s Sleep Train Arena, and even incorporating Oculus Rift, the Kings are trying to take the lead among NBA teams when it comes to using technology to enhance fans’ experiences.

And no wonder, given that the team’s ownership group is packed full of tech heavyweights like Tibco Software founder Vivek Ranadive; Paul, Hal, and Jeff Jacobs (whose father founded Qualcomm); Leap Motion President (and former Apple vice president) Andy Miller; and former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly. Thanks to those connections, the team, in its search for new tech to try out, is “literally one phone call away from every tech CEO in the world,” said Kings senior vice president for marketing and strategy Ben Gumpert.

But back to Glass. Here’s how it works.

When Glass records video, it can broadcast that feed, and CrowdOptic’s software can capture it, send it back out, allowing anyone running its app to “inherit” the feed. Although there’s a short delay, it means that an average Glass wearer — or later, someone running the CrowdOptic app on a smart phone — will be able to see just what I saw when I watched Thompson, Johnson, and McCallum play 1-on-2: an up close and very personal view of getting dunked on.

NBA dons Google Glass to put you in the game (pictures)

To start with, the Kings bought 10 pairs of Glass, meaning that at any one time, there are few possible feeds that fans could inherit. But over time, as the team buys more, or fans’ own Glass or smartphone feeds are incorporated into the mix, CrowdOptic’s algorithms will be brought to bear to help find the most compelling views for fans. As Jon Fisher, the company’s CEO explained, its technology is able to analyze multiple feeds coming from a similar location and choose the best one to share. Ultimately, when there’s hundreds, or even thousands, of feeds choose from, “the fans will be in charge,” said vice president of business development (and former NFL linebacker) Jim Kovach. “They’re going to see what they want to see.”

As far as the players are concerned, wearing Glass and using the hot wearable technology to give fans a little more access is a no-brainer. According to Thompson, the best way to use it is when doing “tricks and dunks, and flashy things….[You can] see different things, like the way people talk.”

That’s exactly what CrowdOptic is hoping pro sports teams will realize. In addition to the Kings, the company is working with a half-dozen other (as yet unnamed) NBA franchises, as well as some college teams. The technology, said Kovach, lets fans have a much closer look at players’ personalities. “They have their quirks, and you can’t pick that up from the stands,” Kovach said, referring to things like players messing around during workouts, or on the sidelines. “It’s just interesting to see.”

Sacramento Kings players Orlando Johnson, Ray McCallum, and Jason Thompson (left to right) scrimmage while wearing Google Glass.


(Credit:
James Martin/CNET)

To be sure, this technology isn’t ready for widespread deployment. Though the Kings have tested it out during two recent games, the team has so far only pushed the feeds to the arena’s JumboTron screen. For now, network support is the limiting factor. But soon, Glass wearers will be able to see what it’s liked to get dunked on by an NBA player.

“This is a new century,” Thompson said. “It’s 2014, and this is definitely the future, not just of basketball, but of the world.”

Then again, maybe McCallum put it better as he scrimmaged against Johnson and Thompson. “Oooooooh, Google,” the 22-year-old guard said as he drained a pretty bucket over his teammates.

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