Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2015 - 01:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: smartphone, marshall, flac
Marshall has managed to do something almost no other company has been able to recently, kept a brand new product completely secret. They have just released a brand new Android smartphone with an internal soundcard which allows you to play lossless FLAC audio files, something not common amongst the smartphones on the market. The branding is immediately obvious and there are some unique additions such as the use of brass on the two headphone jacks and a volume wheel as opposed to a rocker switch. The hardware is not terribly impressive, a 720p 4.7" display powered by a Snapdragon 410 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of local storage. This phone is more about the audio, how high a resolution do you want for your equalizer anyways? Check out more at The Register.
"The iconic guitar amplifier outfit''s headphones division managed something that Apple hasn't: it's developed a smartphone without having it leaked to a fan-site. So the launch of the London smartphone managed to catch the world somewhat by surprise."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- What's dying on the vine and rhymes with IBM? @ The Register
- Norton for Windows 10 is NOT a box-borking beta, insists firm @ The Register
- Windows 10 will reach end of life on 14 October 2025 @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft hurls out Visual Studio 2015, .Net 4.6 ahead of Windows 10 @ The Register
- Buckyballs exist in space @ Nanotechweb
- Remote Exploit On a Production Chrysler To Be Presented At BlackHat @ Slashdot
- “Drones” Endanger Airborne Wildfire Fighting @ Hack a Day
Subject: Mobile | July 17, 2015 - 04:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: roundup, recommedations, tablet, convertible, laptop, gaming laptop, smartphone
Wondering what is hot in the mobile world right now? Well, you can see what The Tech Report thinks are the best mobile computing devices in their latest round up right here. They have four recommended tablets, ranging from the low cost Google Nexus 7 which is still a hit after years on the market to the much more expensive and brand new iPad Air 2. Of the convertibles they recommend, two happen to be Surface machines from Microsoft and they split up their laptop recommendations between those for general usage and two designed specifically for gaming. Rounding out the list are four phones and a look at what is coming down the pipeline in the near future; what you won't find are any Chromebooks.
"In this edition of our mobile staff picks, we chose our favorites from the current cream of the crop in tablets, convertibles, laptops, and phones."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Rooting, Flashing & ROMming ASUS’ ZenFone 2 @ Techgage
- Mlais M7 Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Samsung Galaxy S6 edge @ TechARP
- Android Wear 5.1: A more enduring wristjob for your pleasure @ The Register
- Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 12 @ The Inquirer
- ASUS ZenBook UX305 Ultrabook Review @ Techgage
- MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro G (1461UK) G-Sync Gaming Laptop @ Kitguru
- PC Specialist Lafité Notebook @ eTeknix
Subject: Mobile | June 22, 2015 - 11:43 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: snapdragon 410, smartphone, rumor, Moto G, LTE, lollipop, Android
9to5google is reporting specs of the upcoming Moto G refresh, and it looks like the phone will carry over the internals of the current Moto E with a Snapdragon 410 SoC, and add an improved 13MP camera.
The current Moto G has been a favorite for many as a low-cost unlocked option (and one that runs mostly stock Android), and the adoption of the faster SoC with integrated (Cat 4) LTE baseband is a necessary move to update a device that in its current iteration is limited to 3G data speeds. It is interesting that the SoC would only match that of the $149 2015 Moto E (reviewed here), but it makes sense from a financial standpoint if the rumored Moto G is to be sold at or below its current $179 price point.
There is certainly stiff competition in the midrange smartphone market, bolstered considerably by the recently released ASUS Zenfone 2 (reviewed here as well) which starts at $199 unlocked; and with devices like the new Zenfone offering full 1080p screens the rumored choice of the Moto G’s existing 5-inch 720p screen returning in 2015 might be another indication that this new phone will feature a very aggressive price.
The alleged 2015 Moto G photo (image credit: 9to5google)
The phone is also rumored to ship with Android 5.1.1, which would carry on the recent tradition of Motorola phones running the latest versions of Android. All of this is unconfirmed information based on leaks or course, but regardless of its final form more options are always welcome in the $200-and-under unlocked phone space - and this year is shaping up to be a good one for consumers.
Subject: Mobile | June 12, 2015 - 03:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: smartphone, sony, xperia z3+, snapdragon 810
The new Sony Xperia Z3+ is a tiny bit thinner than the non-plus model at 146x72x6.9mm and 144g compared to 146x72x7.3mm and 152g. The display is unchanged, a 5.2" IPS screen with a 1080x1920 resolution but the processor received a significant upgrade, it is now a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The phone ships with Android 5.0 and The Inquirer got a chance to try it out. The new processor handles 4K video perfectly and the phone feels snappier overall compared to the previous model, check out their full experience here.
"SONY UNVEILED its latest top-end smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z3+ this week, with an updated, slimmer design, which has a lighter and sleeker frame compared with its predecessor, the Xperia Z3."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- SISWOO C50 Longbow Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen Convertible Review @ Madshrimps
- Vodafone Smart Tab 4G Tablet @ Kitguru
Introduction and Specifications
The ASUS Zenfone 2 is a 5.5-inch smartphone with a premium look and the specs to match. But the real story here is that it sells for just $199 or $299 unlocked, making it a tempting alternative to contract phones without the concessions often made with budget devices; at least on paper. Let's take a closer look to see how the new Zenfone 2 stacks up! (Note: a second sample unit was provided by Gearbest.com.)
When I first heard about the Zenfone 2 from ASUS I was eager to check it out given its mix of solid specs, nice appearance, and a startlingly low price. ASUS has created something that has the potential to transcend the disruptive nature of a phone like the Moto E, itself a $149 alternative to contract phones that we reviewed recently. With its premium specs to go along with very low unlocked pricing, the Zenfone 2 could be more than just a bargain device, and if it performs well it could make some serious waves in the smartphone industry.
The Zenfone 2 also features a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen with 1920x1080 resolution (in line with an iPhone 6 Plus or the OnePlus One), and beyond the internal hardware ASUS has created a phone that looks every bit the part of a premium device that one would expect to cost hundreds more. In fact, without spoiling anything up front, I will say that the context of price won't be necessary to judge the merit of the Zenfone 2; it stands on its own as a smartphone, and not simply a budget phone.
The big question is going to be how the Zenfone 2 compares to existing phones, and with its quad-core Intel Atom SoC this is something of an unknown. Intel has been making a push to enter the U.S. smartphone market (with earlier products more widely available in Europe) and the Zenfone 2 marks an important milestone for both Intel and ASUS in this regard. The Z3580 SoC powering my review unit certainly sounds fast on paper with its 4 cores clocked up to 2.33 GHz, and no less than 4 GB of RAM on board (and a solid 64 GB onboard storage as well).
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 10:55 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wearable, tech world, smartwatch, smartphone, smart cast, magic view, lenovo tech world, Lenovo, concept
Today at the Lenovo Tech World keynote presentation, Lenovo CTO Peter Hortensius took the opportunity to show some of the far reaching concepts for smartphones and smartwatches.
The Magic View smartwatch is a stylish, round smartwatch reminiscent of the Moto 360 that seems from the concept renderings to be based around Android Wear. However, the uniqueness comes from what Lenovo is claiming makes it the only smartwatch with two screens.
Optical reflection is used inside of a portion of the strap in order to project a second “virtual interactive display” more than 20 times larger than the integrated display. This is made possible through Lenovo-designed silicon aimed at miniaturizing the components for this type of projection while maintaining the same performance.
Lenovo claims this secondary screen will be useful for things like maps, as well as photo and video viewing, but it be remains to be seen if users would favor a virtual display like this over simply using their existing smartphone display. Privacy is also a big part of what Lenovo is pitching with the Magic View. Since users must place the lens portion next to their eye, other people in the same area cannot look over their shoulders and view potientially sensitive information.
The Lenovo Smart Cast concept plays on a similar idea as the Magic View. Through the use of a build in laser projector, as well as specialized sensors, Lenovo aims at allowing users to project a large virtual touch screen onto tabletop surfaces.
With the use of infrared sensors, users can touch the surface underneath the projection and interact just as if it were a physical display. Lenovo points towards this being useful for such applications as virtual keyboards in productivity apps, or even for media control of projected movies and light gaming such as Fruit Ninja.
The projected display is also independent of the smartphone display, allowing things such as two separate views for video chatting applications.
It remains to be seen if these concepts will ever actually make it into production devices, and if those devices will ever hit North America, but it's always interesting to see what R&D divisions of large companies like Lenovo are up to.
Subject: Mobile | April 3, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: snapdragon 801, smartphone, quad hd, LG, Android 5.0
Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
Find the LG G3 on Amazon!
- LG G3 32GB Unlocked US Version (T-Mobile) - $540
- LG G3 16GB Unlocked International Version - $380
- LG G3 32GB Unlocked International Version - $435
Last week I stopped by the T-Mobile store in the mall, handed over two old phones, and ported over two lines from Verizon. I walked out with a cheaper contract with unlimited data (versus 4GB on Verizon) and a shiny new (to me, it's been out for awhile) LG G3. Which brings me to this post.
First off, the LG G3 is huge. This is the
smallest tablet largest smartphone I have ever owned. Measuring 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm, the 149g smartphone is slightly smaller than the Apple iPhone 6 Plus and a bit chunkier at its thickest point. It is however easier to hold and operate (especially one handed) than the iDevice. The is dominated by a large 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS display (2560 x 1440 resolution) and features round edges and a curved back. I chose the white version, but it also comes in black, blue, gold, red, and purple (the international versions). Except for the top bezel that holds the webcam, light sensor, and speaker, and that bit of empty space below the display with the LG logo, the G3 has super thin bezels. In fact, the phone is not much larger than the display (certainly width wise).
The LG G3's display looks amazing with sharp text and extremely detailed videos (the included 4k content is great). It is highly reflective and I had to crank the brightness all the way up to be able to read it under direct sunlight (my S4 was similar in this respect). In other lighting situations, it worked really well.
An infrared transmitter, microphone, micro USB port, and 3.5mm audio jack are placed along the top and bottom edges of the phone. Like its predecessor (the G2), LG has placed the power and volume buttons on the back of the device rather than the sides (Update: I am generally liking this setup now). The recessed buttons sit beneath the camera lens and are easier to find and use than I expected them to be. Now that I am getting used to them, I think LG is onto something (good) with this button placement. There is also a 1-watt speaker in the lower left corner of the back cover for media playback and speakerphone calls. For a smartphone speaker it can get fairly loud and does what it is supposed to. It is not spectacular but it is also not bad. I mostly use headphones but it's nice to know that I have a decent speaker should I want to share my music.
The curved back cover makes it easy to hold in one hand (even if I can't hit all the on-screen buttons without a longer thumb heh) and I feel like it will be dropped less frequently than my previous phone (the Galaxy S4) as a result of the form factor. One big change with the G3, for me, is the lack of buttons below the display (capacitive or physical), but I am slowly getting used to the on-screen navigation on Android (especially once I figured out I could long press the recent apps button to regain the menu button I miss from my S4).
Aside from the display, the G3 features a 2.1MP front facing camera and a 13MP rear camera. The rear camera is where things get interesting because it is paired with a dual LED flash, laser focus, and optical image stabilization (OIS) technology. Outdoor shots were excellent and indoor shots with enough lighting were great. In low light situations, the camera left something to be desired, and I was kind of disappointed. Using the flash does help and it is quite bright. However, I tend to not like using the flash unless I have to as photos always look less natural. For as small as the camera is though (the lens and sensor are tiny), it does pretty well. In good lighting conditions it is trounces my S4 but the (upgrade) is much less noticeable with less light (the G3 does have a much brighter flash).
The laser focus is a really cool feature that works as advertised. The camera focuses extremely quickly (even in low light) allowing me a much better chance to capture the moment. It also refocuses (tap to focus) quickly.
The camera software is not as full featured as other smartphones I have used, however. I was put off by this at first as someone that likes to tinker with these things but at the end of the day it does what it is supposed to and it does it well (which is to take photos). You can swipe to switch between the front and back cameras, choose from a couple preset modes, and adjust basic settings like resolution, voice controls, HDR, and shutter timer. For "selfie" fans, LG has a feature where you can make a fist in the air and it will start a countdown timer. While I have not tried the voice commands, I did try the gesture and it does work well.
Anyways, before this turns into a full review (heh), it might help to know what's under the hood as well. The G3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC which pairs four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.5 GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU. The phone comes with either 16GB internal storage and 2GB of RAM or 32GB internal storage and 3GB RAM. I chose the higher end model to get the extra RAM just in case as I plan to have this phone for a long time. It supports 4G LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and NFC (Near Field Communication). You can also use it with Qi-enabled wireless chargers if you purchase a supporting back cover. The G3 is running Android 4.4.2 on T-Mobile but it does support Android 5.0 and some carriers have already pushed out updates.
The G3 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery and a 1.8 amp USB charger. It does take awhile to charge this thing (my 2.1 amp Samsung charger is a bit faster), but once it is fully charged it will easily last all day including listening to streaming music and audiobooks, text messaging, and web browsing. (Update: I don't have specific battery life numbers yet, but I generally only need to charge it once a day so long as I keep the display brightness around half. If I crank the brightness all the way up I can almost feel the battery draining by the second heh.)
Like Samsung, LG has a battery saving feature that will kick in at 30% to conserve battery but turning down the screen brightness, turning off radios that are not active, and a few other configurable battery drainers (haptic feedback, notification lights, and account syncing). I do like their battery settings page as it will estimate the time needed to charge and the time remaining as it discharges along with a nice graph of battery percentages over time. Other Android phones have something similar but LG has fleshed it out a bit more.
Just for fun, I installed 3DMark and ran the Ice Storm benchmark. The LG G3 maxed out the Ice Storm test and scored 10,033 points in Ice Storm Extreme. Further, it scored 16,151 in Ice Storm Unlimited. In comparison, the (apparently extremely popular judging by the feedback) Samsung Galaxy Centura scored 536 in Ice Storm and 281 in Ice Storm Extreme respectively (hehe). My Galaxy S4 is no longer available for me to test, but TweakTown was able to get 6,723 in the Ice Storm Extreme test.
LG packs light with only the smartphone, USB cable, USB charger, and a quck start guide included in the box. No headphones or extra accessories here.
In all, so far so good with the LG G3. I am very happy with my purchase and would recommend checking it out if you are in the market for a large display-packing smartphone that's not an iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note 4 (which Ryan recently reviewed). If you want the latest and greatest Android phone and can afford the premium (about $300 more in my case when I compared them), grab the Note 4. On the other hand, if you are looking for a Android smartphone with a large display, good battery life, and decent hardware specifications, the LG G3 is a respectible choice that delivers and doesn't break the bank.
Have you tried out the G3? What do you think about the trend for larger and thinner smartphones? This is hardly an exhaustive review and there are things I didn't get into here. After all, I'm still checking out my G3. With that said, from first impressions and about a week of usage it seems like a really solid device. I've since fitted it with a screen protector and a case so as to not break it – especially that hi-res display!
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2015 - 12:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fud, security, smartphone
Tracking your smartphones location via aggregate battery usage is not the most efficient or accurate method but it can be done and Samsung (and others) have not provided a switch which makes that particular data private. Researchers have shown that by tracking the battery drain of the 3G cellular radio on the battery one can determine distance from the cellular base station the phone is connected to and a coarse location based on interference environmental factors such as buildings which partially block the signal. It is only a very coarse locator but does give better information than just the base station the phone is connected to and as we are creatures of habit it allows tracking normal patterns of movement. This is nowhere near as accurate as GPS tracking and does require a bit of work to pull off but as battery usage and levels are sent by the phone in the clear with no method of preventing that it should cause some privacy concerns for users. You can read the research paper (in PDF) by following the link from The Inquirer.
"SCIENTISTS have warned of a new smartphone risk after discovering that battery power can be used to track a person's movements."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon @ The Inquirer
- ARM and IBM bolster Internet of Things with cloud-based mbed starter kit @ The Inquirer
- May the fourth be with you: Torvalds names next Linux v 4.0 @ The Register
- UK Scientists Claim 1Tbps Data Speed Via Experimental 5G Technology @ Slashdot
- Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm @ Slashdot
Subject: Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:02 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ZenFone 2, zenfone, smartphone, lollipop, ces 2015, CES, asus, Android 5.0, Android
ASUS has announced the all-new ZenFone 2 (model ZE551ML, if you prefer), their 5.5-inch flagship smartphone in the ZenFone family.
The ZenFone 2 has a new ergonomic design that tapers to a slim 3.9mm at the edges, and the front is dominated by a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display (1080x1920) with 403-ppi pixel density and a 178-degree viewing angle. (Does this sound familiar, Apple iPhone 6 Plus?) The ZenFone 2 also features 13MP rear and 5MP front “PixelMaster” cameras, and is powered by a quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom processor with 4GB RAM, and 4G/LTE connectivity from the Intel SoC.
Specs are useless without an interface, and ASUS is using the latest version of Android, 5.0 “Lollipop”. This is not “stock” android, however, as ASUS is using a new version of their ZenUI, which they claim is “the world’s first fully-customizable interface”. The phone is bundled with Trend Micro security software as well (ah, bundled software) and gets its juice from a large 3000mAh battery with fast-charging technology (which I personally find indispensable with my Nexus 6).
Available in all of these phone-tastic colors
The screen is protected by the industry-standard Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which has an anti-fingerprint coating to reduce friction. One odd design feature is the position of the volume control, which is on the middle of the phone's back (just under the rear camera).
The ZenFone 2 will start at $199 USD (I would assume this is a contract price), but no specific word on availability yet.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vibe x2 pro, vibe x, vibe band, smartphone, qualcomm 600, Lenovo, ces 2015, CES, android l
Alongside the onslaught of new notebooks and tablets, Lenovo is launching a limited edition Vibe X2 Pro smartphone and a new wearable accessory called the Vibe Band VB10. As an added bonus, Lenovo is also showing off a new "Selfie Flash" VIBE Xtension that will work with the Vibe X2.
The Lenovo VIBE X2 Pro is an amped up, limited edition, version of the VIBE X2 that debuted a few months ago. The X2 Pro takes the layered aesthetic further by moving to a larger (but thinner) full metal body with unique color options. It features a 5.3" 1920 x 1080 resolution display, dual 13MP cameras (with support for the Selfie Flash accessory), Android Lollipop support, and tweaked internals. The phone measures 146.3 x 71 x 6.95mm and weighs 140g. The Pro version features champagne gold, electric blue and rock pink color options compared to the white, champagne gold, and red colors of the non-pro Vibe X2.
Internally, Lenovo has opted for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC which is a 64-bit octo core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz and a Adreno 405 GPU. Qualcomm specs the CPU portion as being two ARM Cortex A53 quad cores clocked at up to 1.7 GHz and 1.0 GHz respectively. The SoC is paired with 2GB of internal memory and 32GB flash storage (no microSD expansion). The phone is powered by a embedded 2,410 mAh Li-Polymer battery. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, LTE cellular radio, analog audio output, micro USB, and dual nano SIM slots. Sensors include A-GPS, gravitation, proximity, light, and e-compass.
The phone will run the company's VIBE UI 2.0 on top of Google's Android Lollipop operating system.
In all, the Vibe X2 Pro has a larger display, better camera, bigger battery, new colors, a metal body, and different CPU/GPU.
The limited edition VIBE X2 Pro will be available in China and Europe (specific countries will be announced at a later date) for $499 starting in April 2015. Notably, this smartphone will not be available in the US.
The VIBE Band VB10 is a wearable watchband accessory that pairs with the Vibe X2 (and also supports iOS devices). A metal bond and rubberized strap host a curved E-Ink display (230ppi) along with a battery that can reportedly power the Bluetooth radio and constantly powered-on display for seven days. The Vibe Band can display messages and notifications, be used to accept or reject phone calls, act as a warning if go out of range of your phone, and collect data (steps, calories, distance, and sleep) for a fitness app that can graph your performance and set personalized goals.
The wearable weighs about 30 grams and runs Android 4.4. Further, the VB10 is IPX7 rated as being waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
The Vibe Band VB10 will be available in April (China and Europe) for $89.
Finally, Lenovo showed off a new Vibe Xtension called the Selfie Flash. The Selfie Flash plugs into the audio out of the Vibe X2 and X2 Pro to illuminate self portraits in low light environments. The circular add-on is synchronized to the Vibe X2's shutter and a ring of eight LEDs cast diffused light over a one meter distance according to Lenovo. It is rated at 100 selfies per charge.
The new selfie-enhancing Vibe Xtension will be available in April for $29 in markets where X2 and X2 Pro smartphones are sold.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!