CES 2013: Canonical Shows Off Ubuntu OS For Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu for phones, ubuntu, linux, ces 2013, CES, canonical

Ubuntu_Scopes.jpg

Earlier this month Canonical showed off a new version of its Ubuntu operating system intended for mobile phones. The Ubuntu for smartphones operating system is meant to extend the Ubuntu UI and UX to the smartphone screen. Canonical wants its OS to span from servers to phones and Ubuntu for phones is the latest step in that plan.

While there is no official hardware yet, the new operating system will be aimed at both low-end and high-end smartphones alike. It will support the standard array of smartphone functions–phone, sms, email, web browsing, and apps–along with the familiar Ubuntu user interface that is navigated by touch gestures. Ubuntu for phones will run on x86 and ARM hardware and is compatible with the Android Board Suppot Package. That means that users can actually run Ubuntu on many existing smartphones which are currently running Google's Android OS. Unlike Android, there is no Java VM, and the Ubuntu for phones operating system can run both HTML5 and native applications. At CES, Canonical demonstrated the OS using a Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

Ubuntu OS for Smartphones_launcher.jpg

Ubuntu smartphones will feature a familiar Unity-like user interface with a number of tweaks to make it easier to navigate using a touchscreen. The OS will use a feature called Edge Magic, which includes swipe gestures inwards from each side of the phone to open applications, read notifications, change settings, and return to the home screen. Users can also use voice and text commands to control the smartphone. For example, users can swipe left to open the application launcher, drag from the left side to the right side of the screen to display all currently running apps, and drag up from the bottom to open application-specific settings. Swiping from the right acts as the 'back' function while dragging down from teh top opens the notifications and device-wide settings. There are no hardware buttons with Ubuntu for smartphones, and Canonical founder Mark Shuttlework has stated that keeping UI elements hidden until needed was a priority with Ubuntu for phones.

Ubuntu OS for Smartphones_keyboard.jpg

Ubuntu for phones is aimed at a wide range of smartphone hardware. On the low end, Ubuntu needs at least a dual-core ARM Cortex A9, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. The budget smartphones will run native apps (ideally) faster than similar code on Android due to the apps being closer to the hardware. Multitouch will be supported but the destkop functionality when the phone is docked is not available. On the other hand, high end smartphones will be able to access a full Ubuntu desktop when the phone is docked along with a mouse and keyboard. 

Additional features of Ubuntu for smartphones include global search of applications, content, and products, Deep Content Immersion, and personalized artwork on the welcome (lock) screen. Further, Ubuntu One cloud storage, enterprise management tool compatibility, and regular updates are also rolled into the operating system. Ubuntu does include scopes which are similar in function and aesthetics to desktop Ubuntu. The scopes include a list of applications, contacts, videos, and music (among others).

The following chart lists the recommended/referrence specifications for budget and premium smartphones running the Ubuntu mobile OS.

  Entry Level High End
SoC dual core Cortex A9 quad core Cortex A9 or better
RAM 1GB preferred minimum of 1GB
Storage 4-8GB eMMC + SD card min 32GB eMMC + SD card
Display Resolution WVGA 800x400 720p or 1080p
Multi-Touch Yes Yes
Desktop No Yes
Convergence No Yes

Interestingly, users of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone will be able to test drive Ubuntu for smartphones later this year by flashing their device with the new OS. As far as retail hardware with Ubuntu pre-installed, Canonical is reportedly working on developing partnerships with handset makers. Canonical hopes to being shipping devices begining in Q4'13 or Q1'14.

From the various video demonstrations of the Ubuntu for smartphones operating system, it appears extremely slick and user friendly. Curiously, Canoncial was not willing to let CES attendees go hands-on with the reference phone, which may mean that the operating system is not quite ready for prime time. Despite that hesitation, I do think that Ubuntu for smartphones shows a lot of promise as a mobile, touchscreen-controlled operating system.

It is certainly a project that I will be following closely. With the untimely hardware failure of my Nokia N900, I am in need of a new power user-friendly smartphone. And an Ubuntu-powered mobile sounds like the perfect upgrade for me!

What do you think about Canonical's latest venture?

ModdEverything checks out Ubuntu running on a smartphone at CES 2013.

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Source: Canonical

CES 2013: Prototype Intel TV System Spotted at Imagination Suite

Subject: Systems | January 10, 2013 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, Intel, tv, intel media, imagination, PowerVR

While visiting with the folks at Imagination, responsible for the graphics system known as PowerVR found in many Apple and Samsung SoCs, we were shown a new, innovative way to watch TV.  This new system used an impressively quick graphic overlay, the ability to preview other channels before changing to them and even the ability to browse content on your phone and "toss" it to your TV. 

inteltv2.jpg

The software infrastructure is part of the iFeelSmart package but the PowerVR team was demonstrating the performance and use experiences that its low power graphics system could provide for future applications.  And guess what we saw was connected to the TV?

inteltv1.jpg

With all of the information filtering out on Intel's upcoming dive into the TV ecosystem, it shouldn't be a surprise that find hardware like this floating around.  We aren't sure what kind of hardware Intel would actually end up using for the set top box expected later this year, but it is possible we are looking at an early development configuration right here. 

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CES 2013: Micron demos DDR4 DIMMs, announces 20nm Crucial M500 SSDs at $0.60/GB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2013 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: micron, crucial, ces 2013, CES

At the Micron/Crucial, we were shown an expansion to their DDR3 memory line, to include lower profile parts:

DSC02818_resize.JPG

These reduced height modules should make for easier installation into HTPC and other small form factor PCs and even 1U Servers.

Next we saw DDR4 running at its native 2133 MHz speed. Here is what the DDR4 DIMM looks like:

DSC02820_resize.JPG

Note the slight bulge at the center of the pin area. This is to make installation easier, as there is a considerable increase in pin count, which would have made installation more difficult if not for that design feature. Note the increased contact density in this pic:

DSC02823_resize.JPG

Last (and most certainly not least), Micron announced their next SSD Series, the M500. This line uses a newer Marvell controller with Micron engineered firmware, driving 20nm IMFT flash:

DSC02835_resize.JPG

All models will employ the enterprise feature of a capacitor bank used to store some reserve power. This helps to minimize any possible data loss should power be interrupted while data is being written:

DSC02837_resize.JPG

Micron told me they are planning a 1TB model, running *MLC* flash (not TLC), and they are shooting for a price point of $600. That's $0.60/GB! If this scales down at the lower capacity points, we should be in for some pretty nice price dips in Solid State Storage for 2013!

 

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CES 2013: Lian-Li Shows Off Brushed Aluminum PC-N1 Chassis for Intel’s NUC

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 10, 2013 - 09:50 AM |
Tagged: nuc, Lian Li PC-N1, Lian Li, Intel, ces 2013, CES

The crew over at Overclockers Club stopped by the Lian Li booth to check out the company's latest cases at this year's CES. One interesting addition to Lian Li's case lineup is the PC-N1 which is a third party replacement chassis for Intel's NUC motherboards. Specifically, the PC-N1 case is designed to host Intel's D33217CK and D33217GKE boards. The chassis is constructed of aluminum and features a black burshed aluminum design. A recessed, silver colored, power button is on the top of the case, a single USB port is on the front, and the standard rear IO layout for NUC board is on the back of the case. That includes a DC power jack, two USB ports, two HDMI outputs, and a RJ45 Ethernet jack. Notably absent is s cutout in the case for a Thunderbolt port (perhaps there is a PC-N2 case on the way?).

Lian Li PC-N1 NUC Chassis.jpg

The PC-N1 meaures 122 x 40 x 108mm. Because it is completely aluminum, it may help with keeping the NUC components cool like the many HTPC cases on the market with heatpipes that draw heat from the processor into the chassis. No word yet on pricing or availability, unfortunately. In my opinion, it looks really nice, though I've always been partial to look of Lian Li's brushed aluminum cases (I have one sitting under my desk as I type this heh). Overclockers Club has additional photos of the PC-N1 as well as several other upcoming PC cases that are worth a look.

Read the full review of Intel's Next Unit of Computing platform at PC Perspective.

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CES 2013: Samsung Teases Eight Core Exynos Octa SoC

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 06:29 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos octa, exynos, ces 2013, CES, big.little, arm

Samsung talked up a new ARM SoC during CES that will become the new high-end part of its Exynos 5 lineup. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is, as the name suggests, an eight core processor. It is built on a 28nm manufacturing process and employs ARM's big.LITTLE architecture.

Samsung Exynos Octa.jpg

While Samsung is not ready to share all the detailed under-the-hood details, the Exynos 5 Octa has four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. With big.LITTLE, the SoC has both high performance, high powr cores and lower power cores. The configuration is invisible to the end user, and the chip will use the Cortex A15 cores when in 3D applications or other CPU load intensive applications. Then, while the phone is idle or simply running background applications (notifications, checking email, updating twitter and facebook feeds, ect), the SoC will power down the Cortex A15 cores and use the lower power-drawing A7 cores. Ideally, this will give users a "best of both worlds" situation and a balance of performance and battery life.

Samsung claims that the Exynos 5 Octa offers up to twice the 3D performance of other existing current-generation SoCs. However, we do not yet have details on the GPU improvements (if any) over Samsung's other Exynos 5 chips much less benchmark-able products running this chip yet so it is difficult to say whether that statement is true or not. Also, Samsung claims as much as a 70% improvement in power savings over its dual core Exynos 5 processor, which is certainly a bold claim.

According to Engadget, Samsung plans to reveal all the nitty-gritty details on the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 19, 2013. It should give NVIDIA's "4+1" core Tegra 4 a run for its money, at lest on the CPU front (and maybe 3D graphics as well, but it's hard to say at this point).

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CES 2013: iBUYPOWER Launches SFF Revolt Gaming PC

Subject: Systems | January 10, 2013 - 05:52 AM |
Tagged: CES, SFF, revolt, ibuypower, gaming pc, ces 2013

The boutique PC vendor iBUYPOWER announced a new small form factor gaming computer at CES 2013. The new Revolt gaming PC features a custom white and black chassis with tweaked ventilation and a customizable lighting system. The Revolt comes in one of three base flavors, upon which you can customize to add a better GPU, more memory, additional storage or a caching SSD, a faster processor, and a closed loop liquid cooling system (the top-end option is the NZXT Kraken with 140mm radiator) for the CPU. iBUYPOWER will even overclock the system for you up to 20% for a fee ($49).

revolt_1.png

The systems come with a plethora of USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports, dual DVI outputs, analog audio jacks, S/PDIF, SD card slot, and PS/2 port. In that respect, it is definitely more PC than the console that the small form factor case would leave admirers of your AV setup to believe. You can add up to 1TB of mechanical storage, an Intel Core i7-3770K processor, and a single GTX 680 4GB graphics card on the top end with all customizations.

revolt_8.png

While the system uses mini-ITX motherboards, users are able to otherwise use full size components which does leave room for upgrades. The one big compromise is the power supply in that the upper limit from iBUYPOWER is a 500W “server class” unit that is smaller than traditional ATX power supplies that enthusiasts are used to. And that generally means smaller fans that can be noisy.

revolt_2.png

 

The table below details the base specifications of the three Revolt gaming PC SKUs. Each build can be customized from there.

  Revolt R320 Revolt R550 Revolt R570
Processor Core i3-3220 Core i5-3550P Core i5-3570K
RAM 4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz 4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz 4GB DDR3 @ 1600 MHz
Graphics Intel HD 2500 NVIDIA GTX 650 1GB NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB
Motherboard ASRock B75M-ITX IBP-Z77E/S ASRock B75M-ITX
Hard Drive 500GB 500GB 500GB
Optical Sony slot loading DVD Sony slot loading DVD Sony slot loading DVD
Pricing (base) $499 $649 $899

The Revolt is up for pre-order now and is expected to ship sometime in February 2013. The Revolt R320, R550, and R570 gaming computers start at $499, $649, and $899 respectively.

revolt_7.gif

You can find more photos and specifications on the Revolt product page.

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Source: iBUYPOWER

CES 2013: Firefox OS Coming to Low-End Smartphones Later This Year

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 04:23 AM |
Tagged: zte, smartphone, mozilla, html5, Firefox OS, ces 2013, CES

Mozilla has been interested in smartphones for awhile now. The Boot2Gecko project has since transitioned to Firefox OS, and now the company is nearly ready to officially release the code and begin getting it onto smartphones and competing with the current giants of Android, iOS, and WP8. According to The Verge, who talked with the company at CES, Mozilla’s mobile operating system will be released within the next two weeks.

Mozilla's Firefox OS.jpg

The Verge checks out a prototype phone running Firefox OS.

The mobile OS is coded in HTML5 and uses HTML5 applications. While Mozilla plans to introduce an app store to curate things, currently users are able to find run web apps on the Internet. Do not expect Firefox OS to take the smartphone world by storm this year, however. Mozilla will reportedly restrict the mobile OS to low end hardware, with up to 800MHz single core ARM processors. Further, no OEM phones are scheduled for a US release this year (so far). ZTE has confirmed that it is pursuing handsets with Firefox OS pre-installed. Currently, the company is planning at least one low end smartphone release in Europe late this year. US residents will likely not see Firefox OS shipping with phones until next year at the earliest, depending on how well the phones do in the developing markets and when Mozilla opens up the hardware restrictions to higher-end devices.

Firefox OS Simulator.jpg

Until then, you can check out Firefox OS for yourself in a simulator using the Firefox web browser and a browser add-on called the Firefox OS Simulator. To test it out, open up a Firefox browser window and install the add-on from this webpage. Then click the Firefox button and navigate to Web Developer > Firefox OS Simulator. Then, on the left hand side of the window that opens, click the stopped button to start the simulator. A new window will open running the mobile operating system.

Firefox OS Screens.jpg

The Dialer, Messages, and Web Browser apps in Firefox OS.

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Source:

CES 2013: MSI Slidebook S20 to Debut This Month for $1299

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, slider s20, slidebook, msi, ces 2013, CES

MSI first showed off its Slider S20 Windows 8 convertible tablet with slider hinge at Computex, and now it is making a new showing at this year’s CES. It has updated specifications, a slightly tweaked name, and an official release date later this month. The Slider S20 is now known as the Slidebook S20 and is classified as a convertible ultrabook.

MSI Slidebook S20.jpg

The Tech Report goes hands-on with the Slidebook S20.

The Slidebook S20 is a convertible tablet where the display can slide upwards to reveal a physical keyboard. Then, the display can swivel upwards to act as a notebook. The display is an 11.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080 and 10 point multi-touch input. It has a single horizontal hinge to attach the display to the keyboard instead of the traditional single-point swivel hinge on tablets like the Dell Latitude XT series. The Slidebook S20 measures .8” thin and is estimated to be around 2.5 lbs.

Internal specifications include an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. Further, the system runs the full version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system.

The S20 tablet features a mini HDMI video output, two USB 3.0 ports, a single headphone jack, and a DC input jack on the right side. The left side of the tablet includes an Ethernet jack and the back edge of the tablet includes a volume rocker and orientation switch.

According to MSI, the Slidebook S20 will be available later this month for $1299 with 8GB of RAM. It is a neat form factor and the sliding hinge should make the S20 fairly sturdy. Even so, it does lack a touchpad and the price ended up being higher than the rumored sub-$1000 mark that I was hoping for. I do worry that the S20’s keyboard will suffer the same fate as other smartphones, where the top row of keys will be difficult to hit as the display is positioned right up against them. (At least the number keys are cushioned by the F1-12 keys, so it is less of an issue heh.)

MSI shows off the Slidebook S20.

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Source: Laptop Mag

CES 2013: Intel Announces Three Future NUC Systems, Coming Later This Year

Subject: Systems | January 10, 2013 - 02:06 AM |
Tagged: CES, nuc, next unit of computing, Intel, htpc, haswell, core i5, celeron 847, ces 2013

Intel released its first Next Unit of Computing system last year, and it seems that the 4 x 4-inch computer was enough of a success that Intel is ready to introduce new models. The Tech Report managed to talk to Intel on the CES show floor, and the x86 chip-maker is planning as many as three new models for release later this year.

Intel is reportedly planning a cheaper model as well as two higher-performance models. The former is a NUC system that switches out the current-generation’s Core i3-3217U processor for a cheaper Celeron 847 chip. While the Core i3-3217U is a dual core part with HyperThreading clocked at 1.8GHz. It is a 22nm, 17W part with 3MB of cache. On the other hand, the Intel Celeron 847 CPU that will allegedly be at the heart of the next NUC is an older 32nm chip with two physical cores, no HyperThreading, 2MB of cache, and a clockspeed of 1.1GHz. It does retain the same 17W TDP, but it is an older and slower part (and cheaper as a result).

This new NUC is said to be available for around $220 with a Thunderbolt port or $190 without Thunderbolt. That makes it as much as $100 cheaper than the current-generation NUC that we reviewed in December 2012.

In addition to the Celeron-powered model, Intel is also ramping up the performance with a Core-i5 powered NUC due in April 2013. There is no word on pricing but it should be available for purchase sometime in April 2013. It will have USB 3.0, triple monitor, and vPro support. The article in question was not clear on whether the Core i5 NUC will keep the Thunderbolt port in addition to USB 3.0 or if it will simply be swapped out. One concern I have is heat as the Core i5 chip will be faster and run hotter than the Core i3-3217U. With the current generation NUC, there were issues of heat that caused the system to hard lock during large file transfers over the network. Granted that particular issue is thought to be caused from heat generated by the NIC and SSD heat causing a component to overheat, but any new/additional heat (like that of a faster CPU) in the same NUC form factor may be problematic. Here’s hoping that Intel has found a way to resolve the overheating issue with the new 2013 models.

Finally, Intel is reportedly also planning to release a Haswell-powered processor in Q4 of this year. IT seems that Intel is preparing a trifecta of NUCs aimed at lower cost, higher performance, and higher efficiency (Haswell) respectively.

Are you excited about the Next Unit of Computing form factor? 

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Source: Tech Report

CES 2013 Podcast Day 4 - AMD's upcoming APUs, 4K displays, WD Hybrid Drives and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2013 - 01:16 AM |
Tagged: WD, video, sshd, podcast, nvidia, gigabyte, ces 2013, CES, APU, amd, 4k

CES 2013 Podcast Day 4 - 01/09/2013

Ready for even more podcast fun at CES?  Join us as we talk about our final of the show including more details on AMD's upcoming APUs, 4K displays, WD Hybrid Drives and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 53:31

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Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

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