Rumor: Microsoft announcing branded Windows RT tablet with Tegra 3

Subject: Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows on arm, tegra, tablet, nvidia

Today at 6:30pm EST, Microsoft is holding an event in Los Angeles for a "major announcement" and there are rumors floating around the web that this could be anything from a new e-reader device in cooperation with Barnes & Noble to a custom-built Windows phone.

After sifting through some rumors and going off of some information I got during Computex this month, I think the answer is pretty obvious as to what we are going to see tonight: a Windows RT tablet device that will be branded and sold by Microsoft.  Rather than depend on partners like ASUS, Dell and Toshiba, Microsoft will pull out all the stops to compete against the Apple iPad directly by making the "reference" device to spark the Windows tablet market.

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Who will actually BUILD this Microsoft branded Windows RT tablet?

While this is unusual for Microsoft, this isn't the first time we have seen this.  The Microsoft Zune was a great device for the music player market that just happened to come along too late as the convergence of phones and music took hold.  However, the Zune software and music infrastructure live on with the Windows Phone devices and I think you'll find it a part of today's announcement for the Microsoft Windows RT tablet. 

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Ah, the first Zune HD.  Yes I still use mine!

One of the most interesting parts of this announcement is going to be the hardware itself.  Will Microsoft go the "safe" route and base the tablet on a timid design like we saw from the Amazon Kindle Fire or will they go more aggressively after the iPad with a higher resolution screen and mobile carrier plans? 

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Amazon's Kindle Fire

When talking with the major ARM SoC vendors about Windows RT in May and June, one thing became very clear to me - only one hardware vendor claimed to be ready for the pending release of Windows RT - NVIDIA.  While Qualcomm and TI were struggling to bring performance levels to where they needed to be to run the operating system effectively, NVIDIA was the vendor best prepared for the new ecosystem.  We saw that play out with the first public demonstration of a Windows RT tablet device coming from ASUS and NVIDIA earlier this month.  

I fully expect the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor to be at the heart of the new Microsoft Windows RT tablet announced tonight - and that would be a HUGE victory for one of the smallest (in terms of volume), yet loudest, SoC vendors competing in this market.  And NVIDIA and Microsoft already have a history of working together with Tegra products - remember that the Zune HD player was the first major product win for NVIDIA's SoC

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I believe this tablet will have the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC inside

A Microsoft-built Windows RT tablet will no doubt miff some of the company's partners, the same companies we mentioned above like Dell and ASUS, but MS may finally be realizing, much like Google has with the coming Nexus Tablet, that competing with Apple requires a different kind of mindset than previous hardware battles.  On the other hand, a Windows RT tablet that combines Zune music service, Barnes & Noble e-reader integration and maybe even some Xbox and TV options would be a VERY compelling product.

Acer's Thunderbolt capable Win8 tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 11, 2012 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: iconia w700, iconia w510, acer, tablet, thunderbolt, win8

AnandTech checked out Acer's two new tablets, the Iconia W700 and W510, both of which are designed for Windows 8.  The W700 is the more impressive of the two for a number of reasons but the best feature has to be the ThunderBolt port, which allows this tablet to function as much more than a Tablet and might actually provide a decent excuse to use Cloud computing.  It is a little large to be held and carried around for a long time, but with the possibility of a low voltage Ivy Bridge processor running the tablet some space must be devoted to spread the heat.  The W510 is smaller and comes with an optional keyboard dock and you can check up on its specs as well as more on the W700 in this article at AnandTech.

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"My first meeting of Computex wasn't a meeting at all, rather it was Acer's press conference a day before the show officially started. In its press conference, Acer introduced a top to bottom lineup of touch enabled Windows 8 devices."

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Source: AnandTech

MSI Unveils Ultra Portable Laptop and Windows 8 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 08:22 PM |
Tagged: x460dx, video, ultraportable, tablet, slider s20, notebook, msi, laptop, computex

MSI has been extremely busy at this year’s Computex trade show by releasing tons of new hardware. The company today officially announced two new Ultra series laptops that are less than 1” thick and made to be ultraportable and stylish.

The MSI X460DX is a 14” thin and light notebook with metal alloy chassis, Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, NVIDIA GT630M graphics card, HDMI, Bluettoth, and USB 3.0 technology. It also supports the company’s Turbo Battery+ technology and a hotkey to turn off idle hardware. The computer sports a stylized trackpad, chiclet keyboard, and metal accents.

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The MSI X460DX weighs in at 2kg and is less than an inch thick. No word yet on pricing or availability.

The other MSI Ultra series notebook is the Slider 20. The 11.6” device is constructed of plastic with brushed metal textures, weighs in at 1.3kg and is stated to be “less than 2 centimeters thin.” The interesting bit about the MSI Slider S20 is the touchscreen, however. The 11.6” screen (which has a resolution of 1366x768) can lay flat over the keyboard in slate mode or slide back and tilt upwards. In laptop mode, the chiclet keyboard is exposed. The computer will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Powering the ultrabook is an Intel Chief River based Core i3 CULV processor, Intel IGP for graphics, and accelerometer. On the outside it features an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, audio output, and webcam.

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The MSI Slider S20 is certainly an interesting form factor, and I suspect it will be sturdier than other convertible tablets that utilize a single hinge in the center to connect the display and keyboard. Engadget managed to get their hands on the device. They reported that although the Slider S20’s keyboard is a bit cramped and even a little too flexible, the screen hinge felt sturdy and the device felt rather lightweight. Beyond that, MSI isn't talking detailed specifications.

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Word around the Internet is that the S20 will be sold for under $1,000 USD which is pretty good (depending on just how far under it is). I’m certainly interested in seeing what this Windows 8 tablet can do.

Source: MSI

This morning at Computex it is ASUS in the spotlight

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus, transformer book, Transformer

ASUS has been showing off its new mobile products at Computex, as you can see from Ryan's pictures below this post.  You can catch all the PC Perspective coverage by checking this page, as all Computex related content will show up there.   With all the fancy new products, the more pictures the better which is why you should also check out the coverage The Tech Report put up.  They snapped a few photos of the dual display Taichi which doesn't have a lid, instead there is a second independent touch screen display on the back which takes the idea behind ASUS' Transformer series to a whole new level.  That doesn't mean they abandoned the Transformer though as they also showed off three brand new Ivy Bridge powered Transformer Books and two separate tablets, the 600 and the 810 with the Tegra powered 600 running WinRT for ARM and the 810 running Windows 8 thanks to its Atom processor.

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"We're rarely surprised at trade shows these days, but Asus CEO Johnny Shih saved something special for the end of his press conference today. After discussing everything from cloud storage to all-in-ones to notebooks and tablets, he pulled out one more thing: the Taichi. It looked like any other notebook, and Shih took great pleasure in showing off the "beautiful black mirror finish" on the top panel. I couldn't help but shake my head and sigh; the glossy finish was covered in fingerprints and smudges."

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ASUS Transformer Book is Ultrabook and detachable tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 08:35 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, transformer book, Transformer, tablet, computex, asus

Another in a line of announcements from ASUS today is the Transformer Book, an Ultrabook with a detachable tablet.  I find it interesting that ASUS chose to go with the "Transformer" brand for this machine that is x86 and Windows based rather than ARM and Android based.  Engadget has a lot of photos and details, including information about the hardware included within: an Intel Ivy Bridge-based Core i5/i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD for storage and 11, 13 and 14-in screen sizes.  

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Image source: Engadget.com

Since these are taking the Ultrabook name we have a general idea of the physical traits including the thickness and performance found within.  In the standard notebook mode we can see the Transformer Book with its high resolution screen, backlit keyboard and single surface touchpad. 

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Image source: Engadget.com

The design of the Transformer Book is very familiar to users that have seen other Transformer tablet models.  One interesting aspect noted by Anandtech is that the base of the Book (the keyboard and touchpad) will actually include a discrete graphics chip leaving the tablet alone to operate on the Ivy Bridge graphics alone.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Here is the Transformer Book in its tablet-only form and it should operate like just about any Windows 8-based device. 

I am very interested to hear about the battery life of these Ivy Bridge-based tablet devices and how much of an extension you'll get when utilizing the keyboard base. 

Check out the video from Engadget below!

Source: Anandtech

ASUS shows TAICHI convertible notebook and tablet with dual displays

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 08:13 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus

ASUS always does a good job of showcasing unique devices at its Computex press conference and apparently this year is really no different.  One of the biggest announcements was for the TAICHI device, a dual-display Ultrabook that is actually a convertible notebook and tablet device running Windows 8.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Available in both an 11-in and 13.3-in version, the ASUS TAICHI products will both include a 1920x1080 screen resolution (on both back and front displays actually).  When open, the TAICHI works like any other notebook with an Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD, 802.11n and dual cameras.  However, when you close the screen and activate the BACK display, you then operating with the Windows 8 operating system in a classic tablet form.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Engadget is reporting that both displays can even be used at the same time if you wanted to share the device with a friend across the table.  Connectivity is there in abundance with mini-VGA, USB 3.0 and more. 

Source: Engadget

Computex: Acer Unveils Two New ICONIA Windows 8 Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 10:25 PM |
Tagged: video, windows 8, tablet, iconia w700, iconia w510, computex, acer

Acer–a computer OEM mostly known in the US for its tablets and notebooks–today announced two new ICONIA W series tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Sporting IPS displays and a white chassis finish, they provide plenty of connectiivity options in a sleek package. Unfortunately, the company is not yet talking about specifications, pricing, or availability. Acer is currently showing off the tablets at Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Acer has started off Computex 2012 news week with a bevy of product announcements. The latest products being unveiled at the exhibition are two new ICONIA tablets running Windows 8–the ICONIA W510 and W700. Both tablets feature a white colored chassis with dark bezel around the screen on the front face. The front of the tablets include a Windows (key) button and a front facing camera (at least on the W700). From there, the two tablets differ in physical size and available expansion ports. It is unclear if what exactly the internals are in the two tablets as those specifications have not been announced.

The W510 is the smallest of the two with a 10.1” IPS display. It also comes with a dock that features a chiclet keyboard, trackpad, and extra battery that the company claims can extend the tablet’s battery life to up to 18 hours. The dock has one full size USB 2.0 port and a charging port (dock connector). The tablet itself packs a docking port, SIM card and microSD card slots, micro USB connection, headphone audio output jack, and HDMI video output. Further, the ICONIA W510 has two speakers, volume control buttons, an integrated microphone, and power button.

Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.

On the other hand, the Acer ICONIA W700 features a 11.6” IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution, two bottom edge mounted speakers, front facing camera, microphone, and windows key. Acer has packed the tablet with the latest external IO options including three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, and a headphone output jack. The tablet also has a DC power jack (it must draw more power than USB can give it) and two vents along the top of the tablet. Interestingly, this does suggest that the W700 tablet has much beefier hardware than the 510, which does not have those vents. It will be interesting to see exactly what Acer has managed to pack into the small metal chassis hardware wise!

Another notable difference between the W510 and W700 is the dock. The W700’s dock does not have an integrated keyboard or tackpad. It only acts as a stand (with two small speakers and a windows key) that can be used to prop up the tablet in either portrait or landscape mode.

Engadget managed to get some hands-on time with the two Acer tablets and accompanying docks. You can see a video of the W700 above and photos and a video walk-through of the W510 can be found here. Despite the keyboard-less dock, I’m interested in the W700, though I’ll be waiting for more detailed information on the specifications before getting too excited. Despite my “meh” feeling towards Windows 8 on a desktop, I did like it when paired with a touchscreen convertible tablet, and the slate looked pretty smooth in the video (so I’m hopeful that this will be a solid device). Stay tuned for more detailed specifications as either Acer releases it or someone manages to snag one to take apart.

Source: Engadget
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!!

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)!!

Samsung's Tablet Phone, can the Galaxy Note do both jobs well?

Subject: Mobile | March 28, 2012 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note, tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Note is probably the biggest cellphone since the ill fated N-Gage, though instead of being a portable gaming system that thinks it is a phone you have a phone which thinks it is a tablet.  Dual purpose devices have a somewhat flaky reputation but some combination tools end up being more useful than their separate component pieces. With an ARM cortex A9 powering a 5.29" 800 x 1280 AMOLED screen this Android device seems to have a lot of promise.  Read the full review at Hardware Look to see how well Samsung combined the two devices into one.

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"The Samsung Galaxy Note is a smartphone that has gone in the opposite direction of the conventional modern technology. As we see technology advancing, we see it getting smaller and smaller, the Samsung Galaxy Note is the largest smartphone on the market, posing a huge 5.29-inch display..."

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