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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Maximum PC: Maximum Content.

I get asked often 'what PC magazine should I get?'. Honestly, there are only three real players as far as I'm concerned: MAXIMUMPC, CPU and Dr. Dobb's, the latter now only available on-line.

There used to be a myriad of well put together PC centric magazines. Sadly, it seems the market for these is not sufficient to support the print publishing side for most of them. Only the strong have survived. Of the few remaining, most have devolved into Reader's Digest style shadows of their former selves, catering to a pretty dumbed-down demographic.

If you're a developer, Dr. Dobb's still has a constant stream of fairly deep and interesting articles that any coder can enjoy. For those that aren't coders, where Dr. Dobb's might be too deep, that still want a slightly more technical bent from a hardware and software standpoint, CPU fits this need well, along with decently in-depth hardware and software reviews.

If you're on the Linux side of things, your choices widen. Linux Journal provides a Dr. Dobb's feel in a Linux centric rag. Linux Magazine and Linux Format provide the novice with a gentler format (but be prepared to check your bank account before subscribing: the cost of these imported periodicals is wallet numbing!)

My desert island choice is MAXIMUMPC. The technical staff there is almost always on the ball, seldom making any glaring errors. The reviews are quite in-depth, you'll have to find a specialist web site to exceed their detail (has anyone figured out the meanings of the occasional random 'factoids' placed in the specifications of reviews? Enquiring minds want to know!)

Since it's my desert island pick, it has fortunately started covering Linux in the recent past, so I'll not miss out too much on happenings in the alternate OS universe.

The writers have a sense of humor sharp enough that it has on occasion generated controversy and feedback from the more uxorious readers. You've got to love it! Always interesting, sometimes controversial, I've been an avid reader since the days when it was called Boot.

Add to this that the publisher has seen fit to make available PDFs of back issues dating all the way back to 2003 at MAXIMUMPC PDF Archives, and you've got to want to support these guys. Their No BS Podcast series is one of the few I'm interested in listening to. Finally, the magazine supports a very active forum community at MAXIMUMPC Forums.

It is the one PC magazine I wait for like a cat hearing a can opener.

If anyone knows of other worthwhile PC centric magazines, I'm all ears! I miss the days of having a panoply of choices.

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