Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2014 - 06:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: MWC 14, MWC, Lenovo, DOit
Lenovo, according to their tagline, is for those who do. Until now, they never quite define, "Do what?" At Mobile World Congress, they launched their lineup of mobile applications under their collective brand, "DOit". DOit! Suddenly, it all became clear.
In all seriousness, Lenovo DOit is a collection of five apps which range from backup to camera usage which the company is announcing at Mobile World Congress. These apps are:
- SHAREit: allows users to share photos, apps, contacts, and so forth on a peer-to-peer connection.
- SECUREit: provides antimalware, data usage monitoring, and an encryption services.
- SYNCit: stores an online backup of contacts, SMS text messages, and calls.
- SNAPit: is an alternative camera app with its own set of features.
- SEEit: manages your photo gallery and allows users filters and effects.
These apps attempt to put Lenovo's spin on the needs of their end-users. SHAREit as an example, which is available for Google, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows XP/7/8, is developed around the hypothetical user who wants to share large data files between mobile devices. It seems like, because their example user would want to share across multiple devices, that they opened it up to other platforms and devices. On the other hand, SNAPit and SEEit are only available on Lenovo devices because it is an enhancement.
The availability of this suite varies on the device. SHAREit is available now on the Google Play store as a free app with iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows XP/7/8 allegedly coming before the end of the month. SYNCit and SECUREit is available on Google Play for free, but not for iOS or Windows. SNAPit and SEEit are only available pre-loaded on Lenovo smartphones and tablets, alongside other three apps.
The Lenovo announcement should be available at their news site.
An Upgrade Project
When NVIDIA started talking to us about the new GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card, one of the key points they emphasized was the potential use for this first-generation Maxwell GPU to be used in the upgrade process of smaller form factor or OEM PCs. Without the need for an external power connector, the GTX 750 Ti provided a clear performance delta from integrated graphics with minimal cost and minimal power consumption, so the story went.
Eager to put this theory to the test, we decided to put together a project looking at the upgrade potential of off the shelf OEM computers purchased locally. A quick trip down the road to Best Buy revealed a PC sales section that was dominated by laptops and all-in-ones, but with quite a few "tower" style desktop computers available as well. We purchased three different machines, each at a different price point, and with different primary processor configurations.
The lucky winners included a Gateway DX4885, an ASUS M11BB, and a Lenovo H520.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 16, 2014 - 04:47 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, acquisition
According to Bloomberg, Lenovo's CEO has recently made a claim in a phone interview that, "In a few quarters we can turn around the business [Motorola]". Google is currently in the process of selling a subset of Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion USD. When it was first announced, I assumed the deal was based on Motorola's brand power and their relationship with wireless carriers around the world.
Now, two weeks later, Lenovo outlines their plan. The company expects to push Motorola into China, emerging markets, and even existing ones. Lenovo's CEO, Yang Yuanqing, believes that customers will positively identify with the brand, especially in China. They are planning to relaunch the brand in China and become a stronger third-place competitor (globally).
The company also disclosed that approximately 3,500 employees would carry over with this acquisition.
Introduction and Design
Arguably some of the most thoughtful machines on the market are Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPads, which—while sporadically brave in their assertions—are still among the most conservative (yet simultaneously practical) notebooks available. What makes these notebooks so popular in the business crowds is their longstanding refusal to compromise functionality in the interest of form, as well as their self-proclaimed legendary reliability. And you could argue that such practical conservatism is what defines a good business notebook: a device which embraces the latest technological trends, but only with requisite caution and consideration.
Maybe it’s the shaky PC market, or maybe it’s the sheer onset of sexy technologies such as touch and clickpads, but recent ThinkPads have begun to show some uncommon progressivism, and unapologetically so, too. First, it was the complete replacement of the traditional critically-acclaimed ThinkPad keyboard with the Chiclet AccuType variety, a decision which irked purists but eventually was accepted by most. Along with that were the integrated touchpad buttons, which are still lamented by many users. Those alterations to the winning design were ultimately relatively minor, however, and for the most part, they’ve now been digested by the community. Now, though, with the T440s (as well as the rest of Lenovo’s revamped ThinkPad lineup), we’re seeing what will perhaps constitute the most controversial change of all: the substitution of the older touchpads with a “5-button trackpad”, as well as optional touchscreen interface.
Can these changes help to keep the T440s on the cusp of technological progress, or has the design finally crossed the threshold into the realm of counterproductivity?
Compared with nearly any other modern notebook, these specs might not hold many surprises. But judged side-by-side with its T430s predecessor, there are some pretty striking differences. For starters, the T440s is the first in its line to offer only low-voltage CPU options. While our test unit shipped with the (certainly capable enough) Core i5-4200U—a dual-core processor with up to 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost clock rate—options range up to a Core i7-4600U (up to 3.30 GHz). Still, these options are admittedly a far cry from the i7-3520M with which top-end T430s machines were equipped. Of course, it’s also less than half of the TDP, which is likely why the decision was made. Other notables are the lack of discrete graphics options (previously users has the choice of either integrated graphics or an NVIDIA NVS 5200M) and the maximum supported memory of 12 GB. And, of course, there’s the touchscreen—which is not required, but rather, is merely an option. On the other hand, while we’re on the subject of the screen, this is also the first model in the series to offer a 1080p resolution, whether traditional or touch-enabled—which is very much appreciated indeed.
That’s a pretty significant departure from the design of the T430s, which—as it currently appears—could represent the last T4xxs model that will provide such powerhouse options at the obvious expense of battery life. Although some markets already have the option of the ThinkPad S440 to fill the Ultrabook void within the ThinkPad 14-inch range, that notebook can even be outfitted with discrete graphics. The T440s top-end configuration, meanwhile, consists of a 15W TDP dual-core i7 with integrated graphics and 12 GB DDR3 RAM. In other words, it’s powerful, but it’s just not in the same class as the T430’s components. What’s more important to you?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 1, 2014 - 02:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, google
Lenovo has a few billion dollars to throw around, apparently. The company, typically known for consumer and enterprise PCs, just finished buying more food off of IBM's plate with the acquisition of their x86 server and mainframe business. That business was not as profitable for IBM compared to their rest of their portfolio. $2.3 billion, mostly in cash, was the better choice for them (albeit a reluctant one).
Not Google, either.
Lenovo has been wanting a bigger share of the phone and tablet market. Unlike when Google purchased Motorola, Lenovo was not as concerned with owning the patent portfolio. $2.9 billion is a small fraction of $12.5 billion sum that Google valued Motorola at, but Lenovo only wanted about a tenth of the patents. That said, a tenth of the patents is still a couple thousand of them.
For the longest time, I have been thinking that Google was going the wrong route with Motorola. It seemed like any attempt to use the company as a cellphone manufacturer would either bleed money in failure or aggravate your biggest partners. I figured it would be best for Google to pivot Motorola into a research company which would create technologies to license to handset developers. This could be a significant stream of revenue and a love letter to their OEMs while retaining the patents they desired.
I did not think to spin off or sell the rest.
Ironically, that is very close to what we have today. Google, eventually, got rid of the cellphone division except for their licensed "Nexus" trademark. Google kept their patents and they kept the Motorola research team ("Motorola Advanced Technology and Patents Group").
It does not quite line up with my expectation, however; at least not yet. The Motorola research team would need to produce technology to license to partners and maybe other handset manufacturers; also, the time they spent with their toe in handset development bathwater could have already harmed their relationships, irreparably.
As for Lenovo, it seems like a clear win for the company. Motorola still has significant brand power and an open dialog with carriers worldwide at a cost of just a few billion. I do have questions how Lenovo will integrate the brand into their portfolio. Specifically, which company's name will be on each product? I expect it would have to be "Lenovo" but I also believe they have to put the Motorola trademark somewhere, right?
Anyway, who do you predict Lenovo to purchase next? Has the insanity ended?
Podcast #285 - Frame Rating AMD Dual Graphics with Kaveri, Linux GPU Performance, and Dogecoin Mining!
Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2014 - 07:32 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, frame rating, video, amd, Kaveri, A10 7850K, dual graphics, linux, opengl, Lenovo, IBM
PC Perspective Podcast #285 - 01/30/2014
Join us this week as we discuss Frame Rating AMD Dual Graphics with Kaveri, Linux GPU Performance, and Dogecoin Mining!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
0:37:45 Quick Linux mention
And Motorola Mobility
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2014 - 12:42 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Lenovo, IBM, x86, servers
Lenovo will take (or purchase) the x86 torch away from IBM in the high-end server and mainframe market, too. The deal is worth $2.3 billion of which $2 billion will be cash, the remains will be paid to IBM in stock. IBM walked away from talks with Lenovo last year in a deal that was believed to be similar to this one.
Lenovo, famously, took over IBM's PC business in 2005.
... which is increasingly not IBM.
x86-based servers have been profitable, even for IBM. This is yet another example of a large company with a desire to increase their margins at the expense of overall profits. This is similar to the situation with HP when they considered getting out of consumer devices. Laptops and desktops were still profitable but not as much as, say, an ink cartridge. Sometimes leaving money on the table tells a better story and that is okay. Someone will take it.
Lenovo will also become an authorized reseller of IBM cloud computing and storage solutions (plus some of their software). IBM will continue to operate their server and mainframe businesses based on their own architectures (such as Power and Z/Architecture).
Approximately 7,500 of IBM's current employees will be hired by Lenovo as a part of this agreement. Unfortunately, I do not know how many current employees are affected. 7,500 could be the vast majority of that workforce or only a small fraction of it. Hopefully this deal will not mean too many layoffs, if any at all.
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.
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 03:23 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: NAS, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, Beacon
Lenovo is set to release several PCs including All-in-Ones (AIOs), phones, laptops, and tablets as we have previously reported on. They are also not forgetting their business customers with several interesting products including a cheap 4K monitor. Of course, all of these devices are nothing without content which means storage is a necessity. Lenovo briefed us on two such products however one is curiously absent from the show floor (and subsequent press decks).
The Lenovo Beacon Home Cloud Centre, properly spelled in the Queen's English, is a remote storage device and a home theater (not Queen's English) hub. The device, pre-loaded with XBMC, is based on Linux and can hold up to 6TB of internal hard drives. Up to two disks can be loaded into its bays and it does not care whether they are 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch form factors. The Beacon supports either RAID 1 or RAID 0 if you cannot remember our old meme with Colleen.
For performance, the Beacon can be powered by "up to" an Intel Atom dual core processor and up to 1 GB of RAM. They do not specify the type of Atom processor. That said, it does not have to do very much. As long as it can keep a stutter-free stream out of its HDMI plug while delivering content to other devices over the network, I doubt anyone could load it any harder.
The Lenovo Beacon will be available in April for $199 USD.
The other product mentioned was the LenovoEMC px4-400d Network Storage. This device is a small form factor computer fit with a dual core Intel Atom D2701 processor from 2011. It can be fit with up to 16 TB of storage (or sold empty). It is, or at least was, expected to launch this month from $649 USD (which we assume is the "bring your own drive" model). We are still unsure what happened with it.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 12:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, all-in-one
Apple was famous for cramming as much PC hardware into a monitor as possible. At first, when the monitor was CRT-based, it looked weird. As monitors thinned, the computers became more classy. Leave it to the PC industry to fight over the smallest of details in order to get an edge over their competition. Several companies have been trying out various permutations of that idea and they sometimes hone in on one or more niches. Lenovo has four of these all-in-one PCs: the Horizon II, the N308, the A740, and the C560 Touch.
The Lenovo Horizon II is up first. We reviewed the original Horizon and Ryan enjoyed it for the 2 hours of battery life he was able to surf the web on. He found the tabletop design very fun to play Monopoly with friends on. Its performance was not too bad either (although Battlefield 3 and Bioshock Infinite are no-gos). The Horizon II gives the option of a resolution boost from 1080p to 1440p and, if you are not feeling particularly attached to your money: options for a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 840A.
Maybe Battlefield is now... on the table... snicker snicker.
The Aura interface has been updated to version 2.0 and it interacts with phones via NFC. Speaking of mobile, the battery life is now expected to reach 4 hours per charge which would double what Ryan experienced if accurate. The Horizon II is also thinner and lighter with a weight of just 15.4 lbs which is over 3 lbs more light than the 18.95 lbs of the original Horizon.
The Lenovo N308 is a step in a different direction. This Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 device includes an NVIDIA Tegra quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM. It has up to 3 hours of battery life and is a slightly more portable 19.5 inches (1600x900). It is still 10 lbs, though. It also has a gravity sensor which is great if you are playing a motion control game on this thing. No option for a wrist strap which is a blessing and a curse, I guess, when you're slinging around a 20-inch tablet? I think this is one of those things that will make more sense in person. Prices start at $449.
The Lenovo A740 is more like a typical all-in-one computer. Monitor, stand, up to a Core i7 processor, up to a GeForce GTX 800 series GPU, 1TB HDD. The 27-inch display has a 1440p resolution and 10-finger touch sensor. The stand can also dip significantly which allows for 100 degrees of tilt. Prices start at $1499.
Last, but not least, is the C560 Touch All-in-One PC. Starting at $549, it is Lenovo's budget all-in-one. It has a 23-inch 1080p touchscreen albeit one that can only track 5 fingers (which is still probably more than enough). You can give it up to 8 GB of memory and 2 TB of storage. All of this can be driven by a Haswell processor up to a Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce 705A 1GB GPU. The system is loaded with Windows 8.1. Nothing special with the stand. It stands up straight and looks interesting.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!