Podcast #252 - Z87 Motherboards, Xbox One, Lenovo Y500 Gaming notebook and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2013 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: z87, Y500, xbox one, xbox, video, Temash, Richland, podcast, pcper, msi, Lenovo, Kaveri, Kabini, Jaguar, Intel, hgst, gtx 650m, Giagbyte, ECS, asus, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #252 - 05/23/2013

Join us this week as we discuss Z87 Motherboards, Xbox One, Lenovo Y500 Gaming notebook and more!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:17:01

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. 1:04:30 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

 

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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While Lenovo hasn’t historically been known for its gaming PCs, it’s poised to make quite a splash with the latest entry in its IdeaPad line. Owing little to the company’s business-oriented roots, the Y500 aims to be all power—moreso than any other laptop from the manufacturer to date—tactfully squeezed into a price tag that would normally be unattainable given the promised performance. But can it succeed?

Our Y500 review unit can be had for $1,249 at Newegg and other retailers, or for as low as $1,180 at Best Buy. Lenovo also sells customizable models, though the price is generally higher. Here’s the full list of specifications:

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The configurations offered by Lenovo range in price fairly widely, from as low as $849 for a model sporting 8 GB of RAM with a single GT 650M with 2 GB GDDR5. The best value is certainly this configuration that we received, however.

What’s so special about it? Well, apart from the obvious (powerful quad-core CPU and 16 GB RAM), this laptop actually includes two NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPUs (both with 2 GB GDDR5) configured in SLI. Seeing as it’s just a 15.6-inch model, how does it manage to do that? By way of a clever compromise: the exchange of the usual optical drive for an Ultrabay, something normally only seen in Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops. So I guess the Y500 does owe a little bit of its success to its business-grade brethren after all.

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In our review unit (and in the particular configuration noted above), this Ultrabay comes prepopulated with the second GT 650M, equipped with its own heatsink/fan and all. The addition of this GPU effectively launches the Y500 into high-end gaming laptop territory—at least on the spec sheet. Other options for the Ultrabay also exist (sold separately), including a DVD burner and a second hard drive. The bay is easily removable via a switch on the back of the PC (see below).

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Continue Reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500!

Lenovo's new IdeaCentre was designed for Win8

Subject: Systems | May 6, 2013 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, IdeaCentre B540, win8, all in one

Lenovo's IdeaCentre B540 is an all in one PC, built into a 23" 1080p touchscreen that should make using Win8 a little more user friendly.  The specs are not up to gaming, the Core i3-3220 @ 3.3GHz only has Intel HD2500 graphics but with 6GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD it should serve well as a light workstation or home PC.  TechReviewSource does mention a higher end model containing a Core i5 CPU and a discrete Nvidia GPU but with the heat constraints of this type of form factor you are still going to have troubles playing the newest FPSes.  Check out their preview here.

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"The stylish design of the Lenovo IdeaCentre B540 is one that catches our eye in tandem with its budget price tag. The 23-inch 1080p touch screen works well with Windows 8 and looks great for multimedia viewing. Performance is good, especially for the price, but it does make a slight compromise with a Core i3 CPU."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Lenovo Allegedly Expanding Chip Design Team, Will Design Its Own Mobile Processors

Subject: Processors | April 3, 2013 - 05:35 AM |
Tagged: mobile, Lenovo, electrical engineering, chip design, arm

According to a recent article in the EE Times, Beijing-based PC OEM Lenovo many be entering the mobile chip design business. An anonymous source allegedly familiar with the matter has indicated that Lenovo will be expanding its Integrated Circuits design team to 100 engineers by the second-half of this year. Further, Lenovo will reportedly task the newly-expanded team with designing an ARM processor of its own to join the ranks of Apple, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, and others.

It is unclear whether Lenovo simply intends to license an existing ARM core and graphics module or if the design team expansion is merely the begining of a growing division that will design a custom chip for its smartphones and Chromebooks to truly differentiate itself and take advantage of vertical integration.

Junko Yoshida of the EE Times article notes that Lenovo was turned away by Samsung when it attempted to use the company's latest Exynos Octa processor. I think that might contribute to the desire to have its own chip design team, but it may also be that the company believes it can compete in a serious way and set its lineup of smartphones apart from the crowd (as Apple has managed to do) as it pursues further Chinese market share and slowly moves its phones into the United States market.

Details are scarce, but it is at least an intriguing protential future for the company. It will be interesting to see if Lenovo is able to make it work in this extremely-competitive and expensive area.

Do you think Lenovo has what it takes to design its own mobile chip? Is it a good idea?

Source: EE Times

Lenovo still might have a taste for Blackberrys

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2013 - 11:05 AM |
Tagged: blackberry, Lenovo, rumour, purchase

As we have heard before there are rumours that Lenovo is interested in possibly buying Blackberry, or at least trying.  The hurdle they face is not economic, not only do they have 2 billion in cash lying around looking for something useful to do they managed to make some impressive profits in the PC business at a time where their competitors were feeling the downturn in the economy.  The hurdle will be regulatory, as mentioned before the Canadian Government is leery of trend for major Canadian companies to sell themselves to foreign investors.  On the other hand, would the government be willing to watch a company go down the path Nortel was forced to travel, with the entire company and IP being sold piecemeal?  It is hard to predict, especially since this is still at the rumour stage, but from the information The Register published it would seem that the rumours were enough to float Blackberry's stock up by 10%.

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"Shares in BlackBerry, the company formerly known as both RIM and a world leader in smartphone shipments, jumped up ten per cent on Monday after Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said that a buyout "could possibly make sense."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Video Perspective: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 Preview

Subject: Mobile | February 7, 2013 - 08:43 AM |
Tagged: z2760, video, Thinkpad, tablet 2, tablet, Lenovo, clovertrail, atom z2760, atom

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 just arrived at our office this week and before our full review we wanted to show our readers a quick overview on the design, features, accessories and performance of this 1.3 lbs Intel Atom Z2760 based computer.  Running a full version of Windows 8 Pro, and not the somewhat limited Windows RT found on the MS Surface and ASUS VivoTab RT, the Tablet 2 (horrible name not withstanding) looks to be a pretty interesting device for users that want x86 compatibility and mobility.

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Enjoy the video preview below!

 

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Lenovo Reports Record-Breaking Third Fiscal Quarter Results

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2013 - 10:28 PM |
Tagged: pc sales, Lenovo, desktop market share

Lenovo recently announced the results of its third fiscal quarter (fourth calendar quarter) in a press release on its website. There are several surprising numbers contained in the report, but the gist of it is that Lenovo had a great quarter -- one that lends credence to the future of the traditional PC (despite talk of the post-PC era).

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In Lenovo’s third fiscal quarter, the company sold 14.1 million PCs, made $9.4 billion in sales, and grew to acquire 15.9% of global market share (with worldwide PC shipments increasing by 7.9%). It made a gross profit of $1.1 billion and had an operating profit of $243 million. Lenovo saw a 15% and 26% year-over-year growth in gross and operating profit respectively. Further, Lenovo had $205 million in Q3 earnings, which makes it the company’s best quarter ever. Earnings per share (EPS) currently sits at 1.99 cents.

According to Lenovo, the company has seen rapid growth over the past 13 quarters while simultaneously out-pacing the industry for 15 quarters. Its worldwide tablet sales and Chinese smartphone products have turned profitable, and are continuing to grow. However, desktop PC sales still account for 30% of total sales revenue. Desktop sales increased slightly by 1% year over year in the third quarter to $2.8 billion. Although growth is not as rapid as Lenovo is seeing with its newer tablet and smartphone divisions, the number of desktops sold every quarter is still increasing. And as the world’s third-largest PC OEM, it does suggest that the traditional desktop and laptop computer still has life. Tablets and smartphones will continue to grow, but will likely co-exist with the PC rather than displace it. It will be interesting to see how the other OEMs have faired through 2012 and into 2013!

You can find all of the financial details on the company's press release.

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo to buy RIM? That's a little hard to swallow.

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2013 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: RIM, Lenovo, blackberry, purchase, rumour

We are looking at all opportunities -- RIM and many others” is the actual quote from Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming that spurred the speculation that Lenovo is going to buy RIM.  These rumours have spread to the point that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has gone on record to say that any such proposal would be scrutinized by the government before it could go through.  If you look over the past five years of the Harper government and how they have treated foreign acquisition of large Canadian companies you will notice a pattern, the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. to an American based company was blocked, sale of Potash Corp to the Australians was blocked and while Nexen was purchased by a Chinese mining firm, the current Canadian government is on record as saying no more state companies will be allowed to buy oil sands firms.

It is not just the regulatory hurdles that make this sale seem unlikely, at least in the terms pundits are currently bandying about.  Lenovo did base their current success on purchasing IBM's hardware line but it was at a time when IBM chose to move out of the hardware business; IBM did not have to sell off that successful business but instead saw an opportunity in doing so.  RIM on the other hand is in trouble and if they try to flog their hardware business off to the highest bidder they are not going to meet with the success that IBM did.  In fact, even without seeing the 10 new phones that will be arriving in the near future, it is not a stretch to theorize that they will not have the speed and attractiveness of Samsung or HTCs current or upcoming models. 

What is sexy about RIM is behind the scenes, their architecture (at least now that they've moved away from the single point of failure model) and the security features that Blackberrys on a proper BES have.  Native ActiveSync support is nice as BYOD becomes more common in the corporate world but those devices lack the security assurances that a Blackberry has, which is what makes it attractive to Governments and Security Agencies across the world in addition to corporate users.  It is also the only part of the company that IBM found interesting when the last set of RIM rumours circulated.  It is possible that the stories such as you can see at The Register have some merit, it would seem far more likely that Lenovo would be considering a purchase similar to their IBM purchase, sell and support the hardware but not the software side.

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"Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming says the company is actively pursuing ways to improve its position in the mobile device market, spurring speculation that the Chinese firm may be planning to cozy up with Research in Motion – or even swallow it whole."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Rumor: Lenovo Will Produce Convertible Tablets Running Android

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 09:12 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo, convertible tablet, Android

Lenovo officially launched its IdeaPad Yoga 11S convertible tablet at CES, but it seems that Windows 8 is not the only OS Lenovo wants to support. According to tech news and rumors site Digi Times, Lenovo is planning to launch at least one IdeaPad Yoga tablet running Google’s Android operating system within the first half of 2013.

Lenovo Rumored To Be Producing Android Tablet.jpg

According to Digi Time's sources that are reportedly in the know “Lenovo's planned offerings will target the Android tablet segment, meeting Intel's previous commitment to rolling out Android-based tablets through joint efforts with Lenovo.”

It is an interesting move for Lenovo that should play well assuming they can keep the pricing in check. The sources were not able to confirm whether or not the Android tablets will use ARM or x86 hardware, but the bit of information about Intel and Lenovo seems to suggest it will be Intel powered and use an x86 build of Android.

The new Android tablets would have a useful form factor with the Yoga platform, and if Lenovo can price them right they will make a nice alternative to Lenovo’s own Windows RT tablets as well as make for good competition versus existing Android tablets that do not integrate physical keyboards. I’m interested to see a cheaper Yoga notebook powered by Android matched up against ASUS’ Transformer tablet offerings!

Source: Digitimes

Ring! Ring! Lenovo-phone!

Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2013 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Ideaphone K860, ice cream sandwich, android 4.0, Exynos 4412

The Exynos 4412 powered Lenovo Ideaphone K860 sports very nice 720 x 1280 IPS screen which takes up most of the body of the phone thanks to the thin bezel on the phone.  The Inquirer were impressed with the performance of the phone as well as the custom interface Lenovo demonstrated, running Ice Cream Sandwich.  They also felt that the phone felt somewhat more rugged than it's competition the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, check out the full preview here.

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"We were shocked to discover the size of the phone too, as it didn't feel as big as 5in when held in the hand. That's not to say it's a tiny phone, as with dimensions of 143.5 x7 4.4 x 9.6mm it won't squeeze easily into your skinny jean pocket, However, Lenovo designed the phone with a narrow bezel around the screen, which means it doesn't waste valuable space with white plastic."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer