Microsoft Integrating Kinect Sensor Into Laptop Computers

Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2012 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: portable, PC, microsoft, laptop, kinect

At CES 2012, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a Kinect sensor and SDK (software development kit) for Windows.  In that same vien, the company is now exploring the idea of integrating a Kinect sensor directly into laptop computers.

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Not the actual prototype.  Just a mock up I concocted.

The crew over at The Daily managed to get their hands on two such prototype laptops with integrated Kinect sensors.  They state tha the two machines resemble Asus laptops that are running Windows 8; however, upon closer inspection, the laptops have removed the typical 1.3 megapixel webcam that is common in today's notebooks and have instead placed a Kinect sensor bar at the top of the display instead.  They claim that a source within Microsoft has confirmed that the two laptops are indeed official prototypes.

Unfortunately, there aren't many details beyond that.  Whether Microsoft will forge ahead with this idea and license out the Kinect technology to laptop makers or if the prototypes will go into some bunker somewhere and never see the light of day still remains a mystery.  Currently at $250 (to end users, OEMs could likely cut a much better deal), it is not likely that we will see a proliferation of Kinect sensors into all manner of displays for notebooks, TVs, and desktops.  If Microsoft could get the cost of the technology down far enough that manufacturers could justify adding it, it could definitely catch on.  In the end, I don't think we'll be seeing Kinect powered computers any time soon, but in the future when the hardware is cheaper and there are Kinect for Windows applications readily available, it could happen.  Would you like to see Kinect in your laptop (insert Xzibit meme here) or desktop monitor, and if so what would you like to do with it?

Source: The Daily

Origin Shows New Laptop Design, Phase Change Cooled Desktop

Subject: Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: Overclocked, origin, laptop, desktop, cooling, CES

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Origin is one of the big names in the boutique custom PC business, and this CES the company is once again striving to prove why it deserves such credentials. I stopped by the company’s suite and saw something cool, something practical, and something jaw-dropping. 

Let’s save the best for first: Origin showed a Genesis system powered by a phase change cooling system built into the case. As a result of this system, the company is able to deliver cooling at temperatures nearing -40 degrees Celsius. The system also draws so much power that they could only run one at once – running both the phase change systems in the suite could be more than the room can handle.

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With the processor’s thermals taken care of, Origin is able to overclock up to two core of the Core i7 3960X to 5.7 GHz, while the rest can be clocked up to 5.3 GHz. This is well above the base speed of 3.3 GHz and in the realm of speeds you’d expect to see in competitions.

The rest of the system is also technically impressive. Four 3GB GTX580s running in SLI are shoved in next to 12GB of RAM and two Corsair SSDs in RAID0. This impressive hardware allows the system to post a score of 6,613 in PCMark 7 and 23,014 in 3DMark 11 (with the video cards overclocked to 950 MHz).

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What I found most interesting about the system, however, was Origin’s extreme attention to detail. They implemented a red-white-black theme that is conveyed not only by the motherboard and the video card but also the cooling tubes, heatsinks and even the numerous PCIe power cables sending juice to the GTX580s. Nothing was overlooked, and the result is a system that is sure to make any hardcore geek salivate.

Pricing is not available yet for this high-end configuration. Availability is expected to be around February or March.   

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Origin also has their cool new laptop designs on display. Like most boutique PC companies, the laptop chassis used by Origin is a generic design (by Clevo, I believe). However, the new Origin EON15-S and EON17-S will be using custom lid panels with a look that is somewhat reminiscent of muscle car’s hood. 

The glossy prototype versions shown by Origin looked a bit cheap, but the company says the final product version will be matte. If so, these could be some sharp looking systems. Of course, the internals are as quick as ever – the EON17-S shown features a Core i7-2960XM overclocked to 4.5 GHz.

The company’s last announcement doesn’t involve a system, but rather a practial feature for customers - support. Origin is now offering free 24/7 lifetime support for its customers. This is retroactive, so previous customers now qualify for this assistance. Better still, the support is entirely US based. You won’t have to worry about your concerns being lost in translation. It is refreshing to encounter a company that is adding customer service and support rather than stripping it away. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

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

Source: Origin

Razer Shows Gaming Laptop, Prototype Gaming Tablet and More at CES

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: tablet, razer, mouse, laptop, keyboard, gaming, CES

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Gaming peripheral company Razer is already well known for its gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and other gadgets. But if CES 2012 is any indication, they’re far from content making products that go along with gaming devices.

You’ve probably already heard of the Project Fiona gaming tablet. It made quite a splash at CES when it was announced last night, and today I had a chance to inspect it up close and personal. 

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Unfortunately they’re keeping the prototype in a glass case to protect it, but handling it would not reveal much information anyway. Razer has made it clear that the device is only a prototype and will be revised significantly before release. Everything from the display resolution to the controllers could change, and the company is encouraging feedback to help them refine the final concept. 

The only thing that seems concrete is the pricing. Razer is very confident that the final product will be sold for under $1000. I doubt it will provide amazing hardware at that price, but this was never going to be the system of choice for playing Battlefield 3 regardless of what’s inside. The finalized version of Project Fiona is targeted for release this year.

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Another system being built by Razer is the Blade laptop, a product that was announced several months ago but is now finalized and should be on store shelves in February. The Blade is a thin and portable 17-inch laptop built for mobile gaming. Despite the large display it weighs about 6.5 pounds and is less than an inch thick. 

Unlike a normal laptop, the blade doesn’t have a touchpad below the keyboard. Instead the Blade replaces the numpad with a multi-touch display and ten programmable LCD keys. Mouse navigation takes place using the multi-touch display, but if you’d like it can also be used for other tasks including web browsing and recording macros. Razer is also working with game developers to make it possible for games to display customized information and controls.

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The Blade comes equipped with a Core i7 dual-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics and 8GB of RAM. These specifications are disappointing in light of the $2799 price tag. Razer tried to play down the hardware, insisting that hardcore gamers looking for a mobile machine will be more concerned with the laptop’s portability and customizable mutli-touch display than raw power. 

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Also shown was a full set of new Star Wars: The Old Republic peripherals. Of these the most notable is the keyboard, which features Star Wars design ques and a multi-touch display identical to the one on the Razer Blade laptop. Players will be able to bind abilities to the customizable LCD keys and see game information via the display. There’s a lot of possibility here, but it doesn’t come cheap – you’ll have to part with $249 to snag this keyboard.

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Last is Razer’s new Hex mouse. It is similar to the Razer Naga, but six larger buttons in a hex format have replaced the columns of programmable buttons. Razer says that this design works better with action-RPGs and specifically referenced Diablo 3 as a game they had in mind when designing the mouse. The Hex will use Synapse 2.0, Razer’s cloud device profile service. An unlimited number of custom profiles can be stored on remote servers (hosted by Amazon) and they are automatically downloaded to the Hex when it is plugged in to a new computer. Pricing is set at $79.99 with availability expected in February. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

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

Source: Razer

CES 2012 Day 1 Podcast - 1/8/2012

Subject: Editorial | January 8, 2012 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, CES, Intel, amd, nvidia, ocz, ssd, thunderbolt, hdd, Lenovo, laptop, ultrabook

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 1 - 1/8/2012

Join us tonight as we talk about our first day of CES 2012 - including Storage Visions, CES Unveiled and more!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

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

Source:
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Introduction and Design

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When I think of inexpensive workhorse laptops, Inspiron is one of the first names that comes to mind. This may partially be because HP remains oddly committed to a strange number-based naming scheme that’s as easy to remember as my second cousin’s birthday, but it’s also because the Inspiron is as common as rice. In college, they seemed to be the most popular Windows PC by far, and they’re still sold by most brick-and-mortar electronics stores despite Dell’s significant online presence. 

Part of the reason for this popularity is price, and that means Inspirons are often competent, but can also be a bit dull. There’s always exceptions to the rules, however, and Dell has decided to spice up the brand with the new Inspiron 14z. Starting at $599, this “thin and powerful” laptop could be appealing consumers who want to get on the slim-and-sexy train for cheap, but trying to cram a lot of hardware in a small chassis with an inexpensive price can sometimes result in compromises. Did Dell have to cut corners to make this possible?

Continue reading our review of the Dell Inspiron 14z Notebook!!

Samsung Releases 1 TB Laptop Hard Drive

Subject: Storage, Mobile | June 9, 2011 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, laptop, Hard Drive, 1TB

Samsung today announced a new update to their Spinpoint laptop hard drive line, the Spinpoint M8 1 TB. Joining the storage ranks of the Seagate Constellation and Western Digital Scorpio 1 TB drives, the new Samsung hard disk features two 500 GB platters in a 2.5” 9.5mm form factor along with an 8 MB buffer, and utilizes a SATA II (3Gb/s) interface. The 500 GB per platter density was achieved by using their Advanced Format Technology (AFT), which raises the data storage density per unit area, which results in a reduced number of requisite platters and read/write heads. Samsung claims that the reduction in necessary components results in a seven percent performance increase as well as an eight percent decrease in the amount of power drawn.

The new 2.5” drive carries an MSRP of $129.00 USD. Mobile gamers and road warriors in particular are likely happy to see competition in the 1 TB+ laptop arena, which should hep to bring the 1 TB mobile drives’ prices a bit closer to their 1 TB desktop brethren.  You can read more about the new drive here.

Source: Samsung

ASUS does thin and light right: UX21 and X101 Photos

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2011 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: x101, ux01, notebook, laptop, computex, asus

ASUS had a lot of new and innovative products on display at Computex, but maybe none as interesting as these two notebooks.  The UX21 was the flagship product for Intel's new "Ultrabook" category and while we have already posted about it earlier, I thought these new photos would be worth sharing.

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The UX21 is an ultra-thin 1.7cm at its widest and weighs only 1.1 Kg fully loaded.  It will include the ASUS "Instant On" technology, resuming the system in just 5 seconds and is claimed as the first notebooks with a SATA 6G SSD.  

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Sporting a new ULV Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor, this system won't skimp on performance either if it lives up to its claims.  

More photos and information after the break!!

Source: ASUS

Google Announces the Chromebook, Students To Receive $20 Per Month Subscription

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: mobile, laptop, Chromebook

First there was the laptop. Then the notebook. The netbook is the most recent addition to mobile devices with hardware keyboards. That is, until today. Google has officially launched a new cloud OS based mobile device dubbed the ChromeBook.

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As a netbook with an operating system that amounts to little more than a web browser, the device purports to not only match the functionality of a "normal" netbook, but surpass it thanks to file storage residing in the cloud, automatic updates to the OS, virtually unlimited applications, and an eight second boot time.

Google further states that the device is capable of all the promises feats while remaining secure. Security is accomplished by several independent strategies. The OS splits up system settings and user settings, and each ChromeBook allows only one "owner" per device. The owner is able to allow other users to log in to the device as well, whether it is with their Google account or as a guest. Guest Mode does not sync or cache data, and all system settings are kept out of the session, including network configuration. Each process is sandboxed in an effort to reduce the likely hood of cross-process attacks. Further, the browser and plugin processes are not given direct kernel interface access. Toolchain hardening seeks to limit exploit reliability and success. The file system has several restrictions, including a read-only root partition, tmpfs-based /tmp, and User home directories that can not have executable files.

Further, ChromeBooks utilize a secure automatic update system and Verified Boot that seeks to eliminate attacks tampering with the underlying code. All updates are downloaded over SSL, and are required to pass various integrity checks. The version number of updates is not allowed to regress, meaning that only updates with a version number higher than those already installed on the system are allowed to install. Further, on the next boot-up, the updates undergo a further integrity check in the form of what Google calls "Verified Boot."

According to Google, Verified Boot "provides a means of getting cryptographic assurances that the Linux kernel, non-volatile system memory, and the partition table are untampered with when the system starts up." The process depends on a "chain of trust" which is created using custom read-only firmware rather than a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) device. The read-only firmware checks the integrity of the writable firmware, and if it passes then the writable firmware is used to check the integrity of the next component in the boot up process. While Verified Boot does not protect against dedicated attackers, it does allow a safe recovery option when re-installing as well as detecting changes made by a successful run-time attack and files or write-able firmware changes made by an attacker with a bootable USB drive.

In future iterations of the OS, Google is pursuing driver sandboxing as well as implementing a secure method for auto-logins. Further, Google states that they are interested in pursuing biometric security if they are able to ensure their authentication software is secure when using low cost hardware. Also on the agenda is implementing a "single signon" system that would allow users to log into third party sites using credentials generated by their Google account.

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Hardware running Chrome OS is not new, however. Google's CR-48 notebook has been in the wild for months, allowing thousands of users the chance to try out the new operating system and its accompanying hardware. Both Acer (11.6", $349) and Samsung (12.1", $429 wifi only) have stepped up to the plate and are offering ChromeBooks at launch. What is new; however, is the way in which users are able to purchase the hardware. While consumers will still be able to purchase a ChromeBook from retailers, Google has announced a new subscription option for school and business users. The new subscription service would allow students to receive a ChromeBook for $20 a month, while business users would pay $28 a month.  In order to get the subscription price schools and businesses must enter into a three year contract.  The subscription price includes the "hardware, operating system, updates and cloud-based management" along with online, email, and telephone support directly from Google. The monthly subscription further includes regular hardware refreshes.

It is apparent that Google sees its largest market for ChromeBooks as being large businesses and schools, which can then manage a fleet of ChromeBooks for their users for a much lower cost versus maintaining hundreds of traditional computers. While large IT departments are likely to see the cost benefits, It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this subscription based model. Subscriptions have become more prevalent, with the majority of the US using cell phones with monthly contracts. On the other hand, users --students especially-- are used to buying a computer outright. Will the lure of low cost subscription ChromeBooks be enough to break consumers' traditional thoughts on purchasing computers?  Will students accept remotely administrated computers in exchange for a low cost subscription?

Source: Google

New Gigabyte Business Notebook Is Feature Rich And Sleek

Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2011 - 11:09 PM |
Tagged: Road Warrior, laptop, gigabyte

Gigabyte recently announced in a press release a new ultra light notebook aimed at business users. More specifically, they unveiled the Gigabyte GS-AH6G3N, which is a laptop that purports to support the latest technology. According to the press release, the ultra light laptop brings to the table support for both Sandy Bridge processors and up to 8GB DDR3 RAM. A fingerprint reader and TPM module are also available for the security conscious. The 14" and less than 4.5 pound (2 kilogram) notebook is very sleek looking with sharp and clean lines detailing a dark black or silver body.

As a business notebook, it uses the Intel Mobile HM65 Express chip set, which means that you are looking at using the integrated processor graphics contained in the Core i 2xxx chips. To the road warriors' comfort, the integrated graphics should provide longer battery life while still running Windows 7’s Aero desktop smoothly. Another touted feature is the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports which will help in keeping large amounts of data backed up. An included HDMI port should help to sway business users who need to connect to projectors and large displays for their work in its favor (a VGA port is provided as well, for older projectors.)

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 The full specifications that Gigabyte list are as follows:

CPU LGA 1155 socket, Intel® Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 processor
OS Microsoft Windows 7
Display 14" LED Backlit at 1366x768 pixels
RAM DDR3 (2 slots) up to 8GB
Chipset Intel Mobile HM65 Express
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Hard Drive Sata 2.5", 9.5mm drivers.  Up to 750GB
Optical Disk Drive  (Optional) 9.5mm Super Multi DVD-RW
 I/O  2xUSB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA, RJ45, Mic-in, headphone-out, DC-in, docking connector, and 3-in-1 card reader (SD,MMC,Memory Stick)
 Audio  2x 1.5watt stereo speakers
 Communications  Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI, Bluetooth v3.0 + EDR (Wifi/BT Combo)
 Webcam  1.3 megapixel camera + microphone
 Security  Kensington lock, Fingerprint reader, and optional G-sensor and TPM
 Battery  6-cell Li-Ion 2600mAh 60WHr (claimed 7 hours of battery life)
 Dimensions  338 (W) x 235 (D) x 26.0 (H) mm
 Weight  ~2kg (with DVD drive and 6 cell battery), ~4.49 lbs
 Color  Silver / Black

 

Unfortunately for business users in the United States, Gigabyte branded notebooks can be a bit difficult to purchase as they are generally sold overseas.  Once this laptop has been on the market for a few months, they do start to trickle over into the US markets.  For overseas readers of PC Per; however, the Gigabyte notebook may be something to consider as in the end it shapes up to be a powerful but small notebook that should work well for those that need to travel light and fast for their business.

Source: Gigabyte
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design

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The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors. 

Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games. 

According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life. 

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Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.