64-bit Android is Down By the Bay

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 21, 2014 - 01:14 AM |
Tagged: x86, Intel, Android, 64-bit

Given how long it took Intel to release a good 64-bit architecture, dragged ear-first by AMD, it does seem a little odd for them to lead the tablet charge. ARM developers are still focusing on 32-bit architectures and current Windows 8.1 tablets tend to stick with 32-bit because of Connected Standby bugs. Both of these should be cleared up soon.

Also, 64-bit Android tablets should be available this spring based on Bay Trail.

Intel-logo.svg_.png

According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Android will be first to 64-bit on its x86 build while the ARM variant hovers at 32-bit for a little while longer. It would not surprise me if Intel's software engineers contributed heavily to this development (which is a good thing). I expect NVIDIA to do the same, if necessary, to ensure that Project Denver will launch successfully later this year.

The most interesting part about this is how the PC industry, a symbol of corporate survival of the fittest, typically stomps on siloed competitors but is now facing the ARM industry built on a similar Darwin-based logic. Both embrace openness apart from a few patented instruction sets. Who will win? Well, probably Web Standards, but that is neither here nor there.

Source: Ars Technica
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Lenovo introduces a unique form factor

Lenovo isn't a company that seems interested in slowing down.  Just when you think the world of notebooks is getting boring, it releases products like the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the Yoga 2 Pro.  Today we are looking at another innovative product from Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10.  While the tablets share the Yoga branding seen in recent convertible notebooks these are NOT Windows-based PCs - something that I fear some consumers might get confused by.  

Instead this tablet pair is based on Android (4.2.2 at this point) which brings with it several advantages.  First, the battery life is impressive, particularly with the 8-in version that clocked in more than 17 hours in our web browsing test!  Second, the form factor of these units is truly unique and not only allows for larger batteries but also a more comfortable in-the-hand feeling than I have had with any other tablet.  

Check out the video overview below!  

You can pick up the 8-in version of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet for just $199 while the 10.1-in model starts at $274.

IMG_9325.JPG

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet is available in both 8-in and 10.1-in sizes though the hardware is mostly identical between both units include screen resolution (1280x800) and SoC hardware (MediaTek quad-core Cortex-A7).  The larger model does get an 8000 mAh battery (over the 6000 mAh on the 8-in) but isn't enough to counter balance the power draw of the larger screen.

IMG_9329.JPG

The 1280x800 resolution is a bit lower than I would like but is perfectly acceptable on the 8-in version of the Yoga Tablet.  On the 10-in model though the pixels are just too big and image quality suffers.  These are currently running Android 4.2.2 which is fine, but hopefully we'll see some updates from Lenovo to more current Android versions.

Continue reading about the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10 devices!!

CES 2014: Gigabyte BRIX MAX is Haswell based Android NAS Device

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, gigabyte, brix, brix max, haswell, Android, NAS

While browsing the Gigabyte suite at CES I came across a very interesting new product from Gigabyte that falls into the Brix family.  The Brix Max is a larger version of the Brix SFF chassis (taller) that includes support for four 2.5-in hard drives.  Powered by a 4th Generation Intel Core (Haswell) Core i5-4250U processor, this system is aimed towards the NAS market.  In particular, those that want tiny NAS devices.

gb04.jpg

With a total fluid capacity of 1.2 liters (please don't fill your Brix with liquid...), the Brix Max includes a USB flash port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports.  Maybe more surprising is the fact that this unit was running Android and marks the first time we have seen a Haswell platform running the OS.

gb05.jpg

Gigabyte demoed the Brix Max powering a handful of networked devices and providing media content and backup storage for all sorts of other operating system.  I am still not sure what kind of software was running on the Android OS to facilitate the NAS functionality but the Max includes the ability to set users, partition different share locations and more.  Hopefully we'll be able to get a sample in at the offices to test out and let our readers know how an Android-based NAS can perform.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: Asus Announces the PadFone X (AT&T Exclusive) and PadFone mini for US

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, PadFone Mini, padfone, LTE Advanced, HD Voice, CES 2014, CES, Carrier Aggregation, atom z2580, asus, Android

Asus’ PadFone is a cool idea that’s never yet made it stateside—but that’s all about to change with the advent of the PadFone X, which will be headed exclusively to AT&T at some point in the future (TBA).  The PadFone was a concept first introduced in 2011 that involves a smartphone which docks with a larger tablet for seamless transition between screen sizes.  Everything is also constantly and instantly synced between the two gadgets via independent Wi-Fi and cellular data connections without the need to manually invoke synchronization.  Any applications which are currently running on either device will automatically resize to fit the other screen when the PadFone is docked or undocked.

PadFone_X.png

It’s a really clever design that we’re happy to see is coming to the US.  Pricing and detailed specifications are still up in the air, but here’s what we do know about it:

  • 5-inch 1080p screen
  • Docks with a 9-inch 1080p companion tablet station
  • Brushed metal frame with soft-touch back cover
  • Dual front speakers

A “large” battery in the companion tablet station also allows for charging of the 5-inch PadFone when docked, providing “2 times longer” battery life.

PadFone_mini_1.jpg

The PadFone X supports a couple of new technologies on AT&T’s network as well to help improve voice quality:

  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE): This is a new technology which allows for much better quality voice transmission using a codec referred to as HD Voice (technically called Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband).
  • Carrier Aggregation: A part of LTE Advanced, this allows for the grouping of up to five separate 20 MHz bands to produce up to a maximum aggregated bandwidth of 100 MHz.  Essentially, it translates to better voice quality for the PadFone X.

More details about the PadFone X will be announced soon.

In the meantime, Asus also unveiled the PadFone mini, which is not tethered to any particular carrier.  It’s essentially a more basic version of the PadFone X, and judging by the screen resolution alone (800x480 for the phone and 1280x800 for the tablet), it’s clear that it’s intended more for the mainstream market than tech enthusiasts.

PadFone_mini_3S.jpg

The full specs are as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Atom Z2560 processor
  • RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
  • Storage: 8 GB internal w/ Micro SD slot for expansion
  • Screen:
    • Phone: 800x480 IPS
    • Station: 1280x800 IPS
  • Camera: 8 MP rear camera (f/2.0) and 2 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery:
    • Phone: 4.5Wh, 1170mAh, non-removable polymer battery
    • Station: 8.3Wh, 2100mAh, non-removable polymer battery
  • Weight/Dimensions:
    • Phone: 116g; 124.42 (L) x 61.44 (W) x 6.3-11.2 (H) mm
    • Station: 260g; 199.85 (L) x 119.43 (W) x 13.91 (H) mm
  • Five color choices: Black, White, Red, Blue, and Yellow
  • Dual-SIM support
  • New ZenUI interface layered atop Android OS, which provides new apps, visual tweaks, and some useful extras.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more on both devices as it’s announced!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

ASUS Announces Transformer Book Duet TD300

Subject: Mobile | January 6, 2014 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: win 8.1, Transformer Book Duet, Transformer, TD300, CES 2014, asus, Android

ASUS is really taking the transformer meme to new heights with the new TD300 Transformer Book Duet.  Not only can it switch from tablet to notebook with a click of its dock, it can also swap between Android and Win 8.1 with the click of a button and it is fairly probable you have never seen Android run on a Core i7 before.  As well the 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS touchscreen display has been a rare bird in the mobile market; something we can hope will change during this year though the onboard HD4000 series may struggle in some scenarios.  You will also enjoy the onboard storage, a 128GB SSD in the tablet expandable with up to a 64GB Micro SD card with up to a 1TB HDD in the keyboard dock.  Pricing info is a bit sparse but the bottom models are a i3 with HD Display @ $599, the i3 with FHD Display @ $699.

 

td300.png
Las Vegas, NV (January 6, 2014) — ASUS today announced Transformer Book Duet (TD300), the world’s first quad-mode, dual-OS laptop and tablet convertible that allows users to switch between Windows and Android in either laptop or tablet modes with just a single push of the Instant Switch button or a virtual key on the tablet. With a powerful Intel® Core™ i7 processor at its heart, Transformer Book Duet runs up to twice as fast as existing tablets based on ARM® processors. ASUS SonicMaster technology and dual speakers ensure that Transformer Book Duet delivers incredible audio for immersive entertainment.

Quad-mode, dual-OS laptop and tablet with Instant Switch
ASUS Transformer Book Duet (TD300) is an extremely capable device that is able to function as an Android or Windows 8.1 tablet or notebook. Users can simply switch operating systems with a single push of the Instant Switch button or a virtual key on the tablet.

By offering both operating systems, ASUS provides users the ability to run supported Android applications and a vast array of native Windows applications. Transformer Book Duet features a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with Intel HD graphics and 4G DDR3L 1600 RAM, giving it performance that’s up to twice as fast as existing tablets powered by ARM® processors.

The patented ASUS technology that powers Instant Switch offers many performance and productivity benefits over other dual-OS solutions, such as fast, smooth and seamless switching and the ability to resume each OS from where the user left off. As it does not use OS virtualization, Instant Switch also allows each OS to harness the full power of Intel’s latest processor technology.

Striking audio-visuals
ASUS Transformer Book Duet (TD300) delivers striking visuals on its 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS touchscreen display. This multi-touch display features sensitivity and responsiveness that exceeds Microsoft’s requirements for Windows 8.1. For audio, it comes with ASUS SonicMaster technology for true-to-life sound through the tablet’s dual speakers. In addition, Transformer Book Duet has a front-facing HD camera with a built-in digital mic for video chats. The tablet display has 128GB of SSD storage that can be supplemented by a 64GB Micro SD card, while the keyboard dock houses up to a 1TB hard disk drive. The dock is also home to USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, a LAN port, and HDMI 1.4 output with 1080p support. In terms of connectivity, ASUS Transformer Book T300 has 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR.

ASUS Transformer Book Duet sports the same stylish concentric-circle finish found in other ASUS offerings. The Transformer Book Duet has compact dimensions, with the tablet measuring 342.7 x 216.3 x 12.9mm; and the dock measuring 340.9 x 217.6 x 16mm. Together, they weigh around 1.9kg, making it supremely portable and flexible for those on the go.

SPECIFICATIONS
Transformer Book Duet TD300

  • Dual-OS - Windows 8.1 Standard / Android 4.2.2
  • 13.3-inch Full HD IPS multi-touch display
  • Up to Intel Core i7 processor
  • 4GB DDR3L 1600 RAM
  • Up to 128GB SSD in Tablet
  • Up to 1TB HDD in Dock
  • 38WHr battery, estimated battery life around 5 hours in Windows 8.1 and 6 hours in Android 4.2.2.
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR
  • Tablet ports: Micro SD card, Headphone jack, DC jack
  • Keyboard dock ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 10/100Mbit/s LAN, HDMI 1.4, audio combo jack, DC jack

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

 

CES 2014: ASUS Unveils New Line of Android-Powered ZenFone Smartphones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 6, 2014 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: zenui, zenfone, smarphone, CES 2014, CES, atom z2580, asus, Android

ASUS has unveiled a new lineup of “ZenFone” smartphones. Available in four, five, and six-inch form factors, the smartphones run Google's Android operating system and are powered by Intel's Clover Trail+ Atom processors. The ZenFone lineup features colorful chassis options, large batteries, IPS touchscreen displays in various screen sizes, front and rear cameras with PixelMaster technology, and Android 4.3 (will receive 4.4) with ASUS' own customized user interface.

Specifically, ASUS is launching the ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6 in four, five, and six-inch physical form factors.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Colors.jpg

The ZenFone 4 has a 4-inch 800x480 TFT touchscreen display, a VGA webcam, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. ASUS is offering the ZenFone 4 in five colors including Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Sky Blue, and Solar Yellow. Note that the Solar Yellow and Sky Blue colors are exclusive to the smallest ZenFone.

Internally, the 4-inch ZenFone 4 is powered by a dual core (four threads with HyperThreading) Intel Atom Z2520 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1GB RAM, up to 64GB of storage via microSD card, and a 1,170 mAh battery.

ASUS ZenFone 5 Android Smartphone.jpg

From there, the ZenFone 5 steps up the hardware specifications to a larger 5-inch IPS HD (1280x720) touchscreen, better front and rear cameras, and faster internal hardware. The ZenFone 5 comes with a 2MP front camera and a 8MP PixelMaster rear camera with image stabilization, a BSI (Backside Illumination) sensor, and a wide aperture F/2.0 lens. The touchscreen has PenTouch and GloveTouch technology, allowing users to use the touchscreen with a stylus or gloved hands. The phone comes in Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, and Campagne Gold.

Internally, the ZenFone 5 has a Intel Atom Z2580 clocked at 2 GHz (2 core, four thread), 1GB of RAM, up to 64GB of storage via microSD card, and a 2,050 mAh battery.

ZenFone 6_ Colors.png

Finally, the ZenFone 6 is the flagship device of the lineup. It is also the largest of the bunch, with a 6-inch 720p IPS display. It offers up a 2MP webcam, 13MP PixelMaster rear camera, and SonicMaster audio (which provides virtual surround sound over headphones). The phone is available in the same black, white, red, and gold colors as the ZenFone 5. It shares the same processor, memory, and storage of the ZenFone 5, but adds a beefier 3,230 mAh battery.

The full table of specifications is available below for further information.

  ZenFone 4 ZenFone 5 ZenFone 6
Display 4” WVGA 800 x 480-pixel TFT display
 
5” HD 1280 x 720-pixel IPS display
 
6" HD 1280 x 720-pixel IPS display
 
SoC Intel Atom Z2520 @ 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2580 @ 2.0 GHz Intel Atom Z2580 @ 2.0 GHz
RAM 1GB RAM 1GB RAM 1GB RAM
Storage Up to 64GB micro SD card Up to 64GB micro SD card Up to 64GB micro SD card
Radios GSM/GPRS/EDGE; WCDMA/HSPA+
DC-HSPA+ (DL/UL): 42/5.76 Mbps
Integrated 802.11b/g/n; Wi-Fi Direct
GSM/GPRS/EDGE; WCDMA/HSPA+
DC-HSPA+ (DL/UL): 42/5.76 Mbps
Integrated 802.11b/g/n; Wi-Fi Direct
GSM/GPRS/EDGE; WCDMA/HSPA+
DC-HSPA+ (DL/UL): 42/5.76 Mbps
Integrated 802.11b/g/n; Wi-Fi Direct
Battery 1170mAh 2050mAh 3230mAh
Cameras 5-megapixel rear camera
0.3-megapixel front camera
8-megapixel rear camera
2-megapixel front camera
13-megapixel rear camera
2-megapixel front camera
OS Android 4.3 (will update to Android 4.4 KitKat) Android 4.3 (will update to Android 4.4 KitKat) Android 4.3 (will update to Android 4.4 KitKat)
Dimensions 124.4 x 61.4 x 11.2-6.3mm 148.2 x 72.8 x 10.3-5.5mm 166.9 x 84.3 x 9.9-5.5mm
Weight 115g 144g 200g

Each of the phones comes with Android 4.3 and a custom ZenUI interface from ASUS. ZenUI provides visual tweaks as well as applications, including the Omlet Chat messaging application and a email app that supports threading messages. On the ZenFone 6, users can employ "Reader Mode" to reduce eye streain when purusing long documents or books.

In all, ASUS has an interesting lineup with its new ZenFone smartphones. In particular, the ASUS ZenFone 6 is neat looking phone (especially in red) with some powerful hardware. The bad news? Pricing and availability are still unknown, and as an Intel-powered smartphone it is highly unlikely to ever be offered in the US (just my luck).

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 OTA Update - Always On HDR, Video Stabilization, Android 4.3

Subject: Mobile | December 26, 2013 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, tegra 4, note 7, tegra note 7, android 4.3, Android

NVIDIA sent along word this morning that they have improved the Tegra Note 7 with a new software OTA update.  Keys to the update are that it adds the promised always-on HDR photography (AOHDR), live video stabilization and an operating system update to Android 4.3. 

We’ve enhanced the Tegra NOTE stylus experience, adding support for left-handed users and improvements in overall response. We’ve also added a DirectStylus help option under the device setting’s menu, a stylus removal and insert notification on the notification bar, and given users the ability to capture the notification bar with full-screen capture.

In addition to these new features, Tegra NOTE 7′s camera gets always-on high-dynamic range (AOHDR) capability, which provides more lifelike images across a range of lighting conditions. AOHDR utilizes Tegra 4’s processing power and Chimera computational photography architecture. We’ve also added video stabilization for shake-free video, in addition to tuning and optimizations to improve camera performance under certain lighting conditions.

From an OS perspective, Tegra Note 7 now sports the Android 4.3 Operating System.

Finally, in addition to security and bug fixes, we’ve added the ability to transfer app and data files from internal memory to an external microSD card.

If you own a Tegra Note 7 you will be pushed the update soon or you can force an update in your settings menu. 

note7.png

Still curious about the device?  You can read my review of the Tegra Note 7 here and find out all about this $199 7-in tablet device.

Source: NVIDIA

Upgrading from a PSP to a Shield

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2013 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: shield, nvidia, gamestream, Android

Neoseeker traded in their Star Wars Limited Edition PSP for an NVIDIA Shield to see the evolution of portable gaming in action.  It was love at first sight, from the design of the box it came in to the shape of the actual device.  The actual performance of the device involved changing some habit, years of touchscreen usage were working against them when navigating with the D-Pad but that was quickly overcome as they became accustomed to the device.  Once they got comfortable with Shield and tried out both GameStream and Console Mode it was no longer possible to separate them from NVIDIA's new toy and it became a permanent fixture, much like their cellphones.  At launch this device was impressive and as people continue to use it and develop new applications it will only get better.

01.jpg

"Through SHIELD, NVIDIA offers a new approach to Android gaming by providing an all-in-one platform combining beautiful display and console-grade controller."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Neoseeker

Basemark X Creator Comments on Benchmark Cheating

Subject: Mobile | October 3, 2013 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: Android, cheating, basemark x

Even if you haven't been paying attention to the world of mobile benchmarking over the past week you have likely heard about the now rampant cheating that is going on with Android testing.  Device makers are doing simple detection for benchmark applications and unrealistically changing the performance attributes of the SoC (CPU and GPU) to improve benchmark scores.  This does not represent the behavior that an end user would see in real-world usage but is intended only to move the device up to the top of benchmark graphs to gain attention and drive sales.

Long time PC enthusiasts will recognize this problem though thanks to the openness of the PC ecosystem that issue is largely removed as there are independent press and researchers keeping all parties honest. 

Anandtech (and many other outlets) are again discussing the issue of cheating in mobile testing, even going as far as creating a chart titled "I Can't Believe I Have to Make This Table" that shows which benchmarks are being compromised by which devices and OS configurations.  I highly suggest you check out the story by Anand and Brian to get more details on the state of cheating in mobile benchmarks. 

The creator of one of the affected benchmarks, Basemark X, contacted the media with some interesting comments I wanted share. 

It has come to our attention that Galaxy Note 3 may be targeting our benchmark, Basemark X.

Rightware’s mission is to provide trusted performance evaluation tools you can depend on. Therefore, we have produced an updated version of Basemark X that solves this issue.

basemarkx.png

I asked Tero Sarkkinen, founder of Rightware, what could be done to prevent this type of unfair performance skewing going forward. 

Basically every benchmark and application out there can be targeted by a new handset or tablet and no one can really prevent it. What makes a difference is will the benchmark vendor do something about it when this is recognized.

At Rightware, we take our mission seriously and we monitor day in and day out what is going on. As in this case, we noticed that Note 3 is targeting Basemark X, we immediately provided the press with a version that the handset is not able to detect.

We get thousands of benchmark results in every day to our Power Board http://results.rightware.com and therefore we have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

In other words, we are not sticking our heads into the sand.

While the sentiment that "no one can really prevent it" is disappointing to hear, it is what we expected and what we are planning for.  Sarkkinen is confident that Rightware is able to stay up on the situation and is going to keep pace with online media and analysts to make sure these hardware vendors are staying honest. 

It's the best news we have seen in a sea of disappointing information on mobility benchmarking this week.

Office 365 might not be great for enterprise but for BYOD it is looking interesting

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2013 - 10:24 AM |
Tagged: office 365, microsoft, Android

While Enterprise admins are less than impressed with the new Office 365 model and the changes that are required to their environments to make this new product function correctly many SMBs, students and home users have a lot to be happy about.  Device sharing is going to be a big thing, with one license allowing you to use Office 365 on a variety of the devices you own.  Support on NVIDIA's Shield is still a rumour but compatibility with Android phones is much closer to reality.  There are workarounds you need to put into place in order to make most Android phones function correctly, which The Register kindly linked to in their article and you will need to hunt down the originally released Microsoft installation file which they have pulled but you will be able to use Office 365.  Hopefully you won't be trying to write long dissertations on your phone but reading and editing are quite possible.

office-365-logo.jpg

"Unlike the video editing or CAD workstation beasts that are still utterly reliant on Windows, Android is slowly evolving into a workable platform for basic productivity."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register