Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple, ASUS

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

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Tablets are growing in popularity, but the market is still immature. There are only a handful of serious contenders sold in North America (discounting the cheap knock-offs you can find on eBay and other sites). 

Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in terms of sales. It is trailed by similar Android-powered options like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Acer Iconia and (of coures) the ASUS Transformer Prime. We reviewed the Prime when it hit store shelves earlier this year and concluded that it was the best Android tablet money can buy. That makes a comparison with the new iPad obvious.

The constant stream of rants for or against Android and iOS devices in the media may lead you to think that the comparison between the two is highly subjective. I don’t believe that’s the case. There are a number of objective measurements that can be used to judge these products.

Yes, there is always going to be some degree of preference between operating systems, but we’re not really going to get into the iOS vs. Android argument here. That’s a topic that would require its own article, and most likely one several times longer than this comparison. Subjective points will be limited to design and ergonomics. 

Enough talk. It’s time for the competition to begin.

Continue reading our comparison of the new iPad (2012) and the ASUS Transformer Prime!!

Java Vulnerability Exposed OS X Machines To Flashback Trojan

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: apple, OS X, Java, trojan, flashback, botnet

Recently, word of a java bug that allowed malware -- namely a trojan known as “Flashback” -- to sneak onto OS X machines started making its way around the Internet. This piece of malicious code even managed to get its claws into Apple’s OS X operating system. Bit-Tech reports that a Russian anti-virus company known as Dr.Web has identified more than 550,000 OS X computers as taking part in a botnet -- a network of computers executing malicious code in unison, which can be used to DDoS websites, assist in harvesting information, and recruit new members to the nefarious network.

Apple Macbook Air 11 Inch.png

Located primarily in the United States, Canada, and the UK the Flashback trojan infected a number of computers and granted immediate access to the attackers. They estimate 56.6% of the infected computers were located in the US while 19.8% were in Canada and 12.8% where stationed int he UK. This makes for a very widespread infection, and it has taken Apple a few weeks to push out a patch.

If you are reading this on a Mac, don’t panic. Be sure to apply the recent Apple update, and double check that your Java version you are running is Java 6 update 31. Even if you are on a Windows machine, make sure you are using the latest version of Java to keep you as secure as possible. Identifying if you are already affected is a bit tricky, but Digital Trends has posted instructions on how to find out if you are infected and provided links to several methods of virtual bug spray to get rid of the malware.

While this does not suddenly mean OS X is a buggy wasteland full of vulnerabilities as some articles have suggested, it is a gentle (and rather horrid for those that are infected) reminder to be safe out there on the Internet and that a little anti-virus combined with safe browsing habits can go a long way to keeping you safe whether you are a Windows, Mac, or Linux user. Even if it is AV that you only run every now and then and doesn’t run all the time, it can provide a bit of piece of mind by letting you know your system is clean. Also, if you have to use Java, keep it updated along with all your other programs.

Source: Bit-Tech

Now that is an unholy alliance; Intel, Apple and Qualcomm go after Samsung

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2012 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: apple, Samsung, Intel, qualcomm

Apple is getting some help in its legal quest to force Samsung out of the mobile phone business, even though Samsung is one of their major suppliers.  Both Intel and Qualcomm's legal teams have sifted through Samsung's source code and are offering more potential infringements for Apple to use in their case.  Qualcomm helped develop the 3G standard and so possess quite a bit of intellectual property that pertains to the use of 3G, while Intel owns an immense amount of telecom and chip patents which Samsung may have infringed upon.  The Register speculates on just why Qualcomm and Intel would offer their legal teams to Apple, as well as pointing out the obvious irony of Apple attacking its memory and screen manufacturer.

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"CHIP VENDORS Intel and Qualcomm have agreed to help Apple in a lawsuit against Samsung by providing source code, according to one of Apple's lawyers.

Apple's seemingly never ending battle with Samsung over smartphone patents will get helping hands from Intel and Qualcomm as the firms hand over source code to support Apple's case. According to Andrew Fox, Apple's lawyer, Intel's and Qualcomm's legal teams have sifted through the source code and agreed to provide it to Apple."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple
Tagged: tablet, ipad 3, ios, apple

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

Editor's note: You will find us calling this unit the "iPad 3" even though Apple doesn't really call it that. The confusion involved in calling it "the new iPad" over and over would just get slightly tedious.  Enjoy the review!!

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Apple’s iPad has been a roaring success. More than a few people had doubts that tablets could find a market, but the sneers shot in its direction at the launch of the original are now only memories. iPad has become a household name.

But it’s not easy being popular. Everyone is watching your next move. The iPhone 4S is a perfect example. Though it improved on the iPhone 4 it was still considered by some to be a disappointment. The bar had been set too high. 

That’s certainly a possibility with the iPad 3. Rumor-mongering went out of control prior to the release. Many were expecting a quad-core processor, while others suggested that the display would offer haptic feedback. Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

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Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

Continue reading our review of the new iPad (2012)!!

Apple Sitting On Pile Of Cash, Will Pay Out Dividends

Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: finance, computer, apple

Apple inc, the popular consumer electronics and computer company behind such brushed aluminum products as the MacBook and iPad is currently sitting on a huge pile of cash. Specifically, they have $97.6 billion dollars on hand in cash and securities (!). Allegedly, former CEO Steve Jobs maintained these liquid assets in the event that they needed to buy out a company to make any problems go away.

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Apparently, current CEO Tim Cook has other ideas about what to do with the company's money, including giving a small portion of it back to shareholders in the form of dividends. In light of this announcement, the company expects their stock price a grow over the long term. After generating $31 billion in cash last year (September to September), and on track to rake in even more profits this year Tim Cook does not foresee a dividend having any negative impact on their liquid assets. The quarterly dividend in question is set to be $2.65 per share stating July 1, 2012.

Apple is further instituting a $10 billion share buyback program that is reportedly being implemented to offset shares issues to employees. The buyback program will last for three years and begins on September 30, 2012.

After the release of the iPad 3 new iPad (sigh) and positive reaction to dividend announcement, their stock price is rising and they are still sitting on quite the pile of money even with the new dividend!

Source: PhysOrg

Nobody likes NVIDIA, even Apple won't play with them

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, macbook, kelper, Ivy Bridge, fermi, apple

NVIDIA has been having a rough life lately with problems besetting them on all sides.  Their IGP business has been disembowelled by AMD's Llano and even Intel is now offering usable graphics with the HD3000 on higher end Sandy Bridge chips.   The console makers seem to have decided on AMD as the provider of choice for the next generation of products which locks NVIDIA out of that market for years to come, as console generations tend to last significantly longer than PC components.  The delays at TSMC have enabled AMD to launch three families of next generation GPU without NVIDIA being able to respond, which not only hurts NVIDIA's bottom line but lets AMD set their own pricing until NVIDIA can finally release Kepler, at a price that will not be wholly of their choosing. 

Now according to SemiAccurate they are losing a goodly portion of Apple's MacBook business as well.  The supply issues which will be the result of the fabrication problems were likely a big factor in Apple's decision to trim back GPU orders but there is also the fact that the low to mid range GPU could well be going extinct.  With the power of the forthcoming Intel HD4000 and AMD's Trinity line of APUs it will become hard for laptop and system makers to justify putting in a discrete GPU since they will have to choose relatively expensive parts to have the discrete GPU contribute to performance. That leaves NVIDIA only providing GPUs for high end MacBooks, a much less lucrative market than the mid range.  Don't even mention the previous issue of overheating GPUs.

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"That is exactly what SemiAccurate moles are telling us is going on. Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience. This doesn’t mean that Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: tablet, mobile, ipad 3, ipad, ios, apple

Apple officially launched the new Apple iPad 3 tablet today, and consumers will be glad to know that many of the rumors around the Internet are not far from the truth. The new iOS powered tablet will be packing a retina display, new A5X with "quad core graphics," and an optional 4G LTE radio. The retina display on the iPad 3 is 2048x1536 pixels, and works out to 264 PPI (pixels per inch).

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The iPad 3's hardware will further include an updated A5 SoC that also includes a quad core graphics aspect, whatever they mean by that. Phil Schiller states that the new A5X chip "has four times the performance of NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 chip." Apple has also updated the camera in the iPad 3 such that it has a 5 megapixel camera with image stabilization, hybrid IR (infrared) filter, and backside illuminated senor capable of recording 1080p video.

On the 4G LTE front, both AT&T and Verizon will carry the iPad 3 in the US, and the 4G radio will also work on Rogers, Bell, and Telus' networks in Canada. In other markets, the iPad 3 will still be able to connect to 3G networks. According to Ars, the new Apple tablet will maintain the same physical dimensions, and will enable 10 hours of battery life while on 3G or Wi-Fi and 9 hours of battery life when the 4G LTE radio is in use.

The iPad 3 will come in either black or white colors, and will be available for purchase March 16th in the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany (among others), and March 23th for the rest of the world. The iPad 2 will also stay around at a lower price point of $399 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for 3G.

The iPad 3 will come in at the following price points:

Apple iPad 3 Model Price point (USD)
16 GB Wi-Fi $499
32 GB Wi-Fi $599
64 GB Wi-Fi $699
16 GB 4G LTE $629
32 GB 4G LTE $729
64 GB 4G LTE $829

Lastly, despite rumors, the iPad 3 will not be getting Siri access, and the physical home button is still present.  Pre-orders for the new tablet start today, and more information on the pre-order is available over at apple.com/ipad.  What do you guys think of the new tablet, will you be picking one up when it launches?

Source: Ars Technica

Qualcomm Shipped Most Smartphone and Tablet GPUs in 2011

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2012 - 09:31 AM |
Tagged: ti, qualcomm, nvidia, mobile gpu, jpr, apple

The researchers over at Jon Peddie Research pushed out their results yesterday for shipments of mobile GPUs in SoC (system on a chip) platforms, and they found some interesting results. The article covers the number of shipments by the major players in the mobile device GPU space and uses those numbers to estimate the amount of market share each of the companies has using an average of all the four quarter shipment numbers. Further, they found that from Q1 2011 to Q4 2011, the number of mobile device GPUs shipped by all manufacturers had a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 18%. That's a fairly impressive growth rate that shows the smartphone and tablet hardware market is continuing to steadily grow.

In terms of market share, at the end of 2011 Qualcomm was leading the pack with 31.4%, and the only other manufacturer to come close to that number was Apple with 22.7%. The little Adreno GPU by Qualcomm was obviously a popular choice last year!

To make things even more interesting, they note that although Qualcomm has the highest shipment rates, it was Samsung who enjoyed the highest CAGR with a 39% growth rate (bringing them up from 9.2% in Q1 to 14.9% in Q4). Apple then followed behind Samsung's numbers with 26% CAGR. Finally, Qualcomm had the lowest percentage growth rate but maintained the highest number of shipments.

The table below shows off the relative market share for the major SoC mobile device manufacturers, as provided by Jon Peddie Research.

Market Share Q1'11 Q2'11 Q3'11 Q4'11 2011
Apple 22.2% 21.4% 18.7% 27.1% 22.7%
NVIDIA 2.8% 3.6% 4.1% 1.7% 3.0%
Qualcomm 31.6% 32.6% 31.6% 30.2% 31.4%
Samsung 9.2% 13.9% 15.9% 14.9% 13.8%
TI 20.6% 16.2% 15.9% 16.2% 17.0%
Others 13.4% 12.2% 13.8% 9.9% 12.1%

 

They further state that the mobile GPU war is really heating up, especially between Samsung, Apple, and Qualcomm, and I tend to agree. This area of the technology market is seeing some very impressive growth and is really booming as mobile GPU SoCs are continuously released and they are getting more powerful each iteration. It is an area that has a lot of competition and is growing rapidly, much like desktop computers did 10 to 20 years ago when personal computers really started to be affordable and powerful enough to take over the world (well, market share wise).

Another interesting point about the marketshare results in that of NVIDIA's shipments.  With all the marketing behind the Tegra SoC and its popularity in high end smartphones and tablets, I was under the impression that they had a lot more marketshare than they do such that when I first saw the JPR chart, I did a double take and had to be sure I read them correctly!  It will be interesting to see how they do this year and whether they will start to see increased growth.

It will be interesting to see if Samsung can catch up to Qualcomm and whether or nor Qualcomm will still be the heavyweight champion by 2012. Nvidia is still just breaking into this market but they have a very powerful GPU, so it will be interesting to see just how much they manage to grow this year. What are your thoughts on these numbers? How do you think things will unfold this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Asustek? Your Ultrabook orders are ah pulled.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 15, 2012 - 02:02 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Pegatron, asustek, apple

Pegatron Technology, an independent spin-off company of Asustek, will apparently stop manufacturing ultrabooks for Asustek as early as the end of March. According to a Digitimes, Pegatron will give up ultrabook orders from Asustek due to pressure from their new partner, Apple. Apple has not been pleased by the competition that ultrabooks bring to their MacBook Air lineup of higher-end ultrathin laptops.

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Asus really needs to find their Zen...

Have you ever seen a teenager who fights with their parents and moves out with their boyfriend or girlfriend? You know how that usually ends up with a lot of grief and a giant cellphone bill? With Pegatron currently assembling iPhones for Apple we already got the latter portion of that prophecy. How much grief all parties will incur is still pending.

On the other hand, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet is also rebutting the entire story with claims that it does not make sense. He asserts that Apple cannot push its weight against manufacturing and design companies and risk burning bridges.

On the other other hand, it very much does fit Apple’s recent modus operandi with their treatment of Samsung, HTC, and Google. Apple is also willing to drop large vendors with little hesitation. Apple threatened to drop Intel last summer over power concerns. From my position it is more believable than what the ZDNet article lets on.

What do you believe? Has Apple gone and bucked the Pegasus?

Source: Digitimes

Ubuntu versus OSX ... Fight!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: apple, osx, ubuntu, linux

We've all seen the various Windows verus Apple comparisons, so let us head to Phoronix for a fight of a different flavour.  They've taken the new OS X and pitted it against the new Ubuntu on SandyBridge hardware to see how they compare.  From the start it looks bad for Apple, as it detected the dual Core i5 2415M as a single core CPU with hyperthreading where as Ubuntu detected the processor correctly.  They did help Apple out a bit by adding in LLVM/Clang 3.0 into the Xcode4 package as GCC 4.2.1 performs less impressively.  The results were mixed, with each system excelling at certain tasks but not others proving once again that the choice between Apple and PC is generally based on specfic task and not a general performance decision.

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"After delivering benchmarks last week that were comparing the Intel Sandy Bridge performance of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" vs. Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" when it came to the Sandy Bridge OpenGL graphics performance, here's a comparative look at the performance of Ubuntu 11.10 against Mac OS X 10.7.2 from the Intel Sandy Bridge-based Mac."

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Source: Phoronix