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 - 05:59 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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Intel in the Cloud with Ray-traces

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | March 8, 2012 - 04:02 AM |
Tagged: ray tracing, tablet, tablets, knight's ferry, Intel

Intel looks to bring ray-tracing from their Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC) architecture to your tablet… by remotely streaming from a server loaded with one or more Knight’s Ferry cards.

The anticipation of ray-tracing engulfed almost the entirety of 3D video gaming history. The reasonable support of ray-tracing is very seductive for games as it enables easier access to effects such as global illumination, reflections, and so forth. Ray-tracing is well deserved of its status as a buzzword.

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Render yourself in what Knight’s Ferry delivered… with scaling linearly and ray-traced Wolfenstein

Screenshot from Intel Blogs.

Obviously Intel would love to make headway into the graphics market. In the past Intel has struggled to put forth an acceptable offering for graphics. It is my personal belief that Intel did not take graphics seriously when they were content selling cheap GPUs to be packed in with PCs. While the short term easy money flowed in, the industry slipped far enough ahead of them that they could not just easily pounce back into contention with a single huge R&D check.

Intel obviously cares about graphics now, and has been relentless at their research into the field. Their CPUs are far ahead of any competition in terms of serial performance -- and power consumption is getting plenty of attention itself.

Intel has long ago acknowledged the importance of massively parallel computing but was never quite able to bring products like Larabee against anything the companies they once ignored could retaliate with. This brings us back to ray-tracing: what is the ultimate advantage of ray-tracing?

 

Ray-tracing is a dead simple algorithm.

 

A ray-trace renderer is programmed very simply and elegantly. Effects are often added directly and without much approximation necessary. No hacking around is required in the numerous caveats within graphics APIs in order to get a functional render on screen. If you can keep throwing enough coal on the fire, it will burn without much effort -- so to speak. Intel just needs to put a fast enough processor behind it, and away they go.

Throughout the article, Daniel Pohl has in fact discussed numerous enhancements that they have made to their ray-tracing engine to improve performance. One of the most interesting improvements is their approach to antialiasing. If the rays from two neighboring pixels strike different meshes or strike the same mesh at the point of a sharp change in direction, denoted by color, between pixels then they are flagged for supersampling. The combination of that shortcut with MLAA will also be explored by Intel at some point.

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A little behind-the-scenes trickery...

Screenshot from Intel Blogs.

Intel claims that they were able to achieve 20-30 FPS at 1024x600 resolutions streaming from a server with a single Knight’s Ferry card installed to an Intel Atom-based tablet. They were able to scale to within a couple percent of theoretical 8x performance with 8 Knight’s Ferry cards installed.

I very much dislike trusting my content to online streaming services as I am an art nut. I value the preservation of content which just is not possible if you are only able to access it through some remote third party -- can you guess my stance on DRM? That aside, I understand that Intel and others will regularly find ways to push content to where there just should not be enough computational horsepower to accept it.

Ray-tracing might be Intel’s attempt to circumvent all of the years of research that they ignored with conventional real-time rendering technologies. Either way, gaming engines are going the way of simpler rendering algorithms as GPUs become more generalized and less reliant on fixed-function hardware assigned to some arbitrary DirectX or OpenGL specification.

Intel just hopes that they can have a compelling product at that destination whenever the rest of the industry arrives.

Source: Intel Blog

Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: tablet, mobile, ipad 3, ipad, ios, apple

Apple officially launched the new Apple iPad 3 tablet today, and consumers will be glad to know that many of the rumors around the Internet are not far from the truth. The new iOS powered tablet will be packing a retina display, new A5X with "quad core graphics," and an optional 4G LTE radio. The retina display on the iPad 3 is 2048x1536 pixels, and works out to 264 PPI (pixels per inch).

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The iPad 3's hardware will further include an updated A5 SoC that also includes a quad core graphics aspect, whatever they mean by that. Phil Schiller states that the new A5X chip "has four times the performance of NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 chip." Apple has also updated the camera in the iPad 3 such that it has a 5 megapixel camera with image stabilization, hybrid IR (infrared) filter, and backside illuminated senor capable of recording 1080p video.

On the 4G LTE front, both AT&T and Verizon will carry the iPad 3 in the US, and the 4G radio will also work on Rogers, Bell, and Telus' networks in Canada. In other markets, the iPad 3 will still be able to connect to 3G networks. According to Ars, the new Apple tablet will maintain the same physical dimensions, and will enable 10 hours of battery life while on 3G or Wi-Fi and 9 hours of battery life when the 4G LTE radio is in use.

The iPad 3 will come in either black or white colors, and will be available for purchase March 16th in the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany (among others), and March 23th for the rest of the world. The iPad 2 will also stay around at a lower price point of $399 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for 3G.

The iPad 3 will come in at the following price points:

Apple iPad 3 Model Price point (USD)
16 GB Wi-Fi $499
32 GB Wi-Fi $599
64 GB Wi-Fi $699
16 GB 4G LTE $629
32 GB 4G LTE $729
64 GB 4G LTE $829

Lastly, despite rumors, the iPad 3 will not be getting Siri access, and the physical home button is still present.  Pre-orders for the new tablet start today, and more information on the pre-order is available over at apple.com/ipad.  What do you guys think of the new tablet, will you be picking one up when it launches?

Source: Ars Technica

MWC 2012: Nvidia Shows Off Tegra 3’s Muscles With 5 New Games

Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2012 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, MWC, mobile world congress, gaming

 Nvidia has always been happy to show off the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. No surprise there – the company’s roots are in PC graphics, which goes hand-in-hand with PC games. When we reviewed the Transformer Prime there were several beautiful pre-installed games, such as Shadowgun, that showed off the hardware. Now Nvidia has come up with not one but five more new titles to brag about at Mobile World Congress – including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Let’s have a look at them.

Dark Kingdom THD

This is a role-playing game built in the vein of games like Diablo and Torchlight. The visuals are impressive and a game like this should control well on a tablet, so this could prove to be an excellent title. I do wish the graphics offered more variety, however – they look a bit dark and dreary to me. 

Eden to GREEEEN THD


Hey, are you tired of tower defense games yet? I hope not, because that’s what Eden to GREEEEN is, albeit it one that has somewhat less restrictive mechanics than most titles in the genre. Of the games that Nvidia showed at Mobile World Congress this is easily the least attractive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to play.

Golden Arrow THD

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This is a hack-and-slash title that apparently will be including a lot of lens flare and explosions. I’m not sure that sounds appealing, but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. There’s no video available for this title right now, so we don’t have a lot to go on.

Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD

 

This game, which is already available on other platforms (you can even pick it up on Steam), is a puzzle game that asks players to navigate hazardous terrain on their quest to collect treasure and do over adventure-y things. The versions of this game that have come out for other platforms have received a fair amount of praise, so Nvidia is wise to be bragging about adding this to its stable.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II

 

 

Nvidia has been bragging about Tegra 3’s console-quality graphics, so why not poach one of console gaming’s most popular franchises? Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II looks to be a straight port of the version that will be available on game consoles, which means platforming at light speed with excellent 3D graphics. I sincerely hope that the controls are solid, because if so, this could be one of the best games on any tablet.

Availability for the titles shown by Nvidia is generally vague, but can be summed up as vaguely “spring.” The Sonic game, for example, will be coming out for Xbox 360 on May 16, so the tablet version will probably release sometime close to that date.

 

Source: Nvidia

MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: MWC, Transformer, tablet, padfone, mobile world congress, eee pad, asus, MWC 12, infinity, transformer prime

While attending CES last month, ASUS showed us a Transformer Prime with a full HD display. It looked great, but it did feel as if the branding would be a bit perplexing, as this new model would also be sold as a Prime.

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Apparently the company had this thought, as well. They’ve now unveiled the Transformer Pad Infinity Series, a new tablet with a 1920x1200 IPS+ display. It will come in two different variants. One is 4G LTE compatible and uses a Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait (whoa! Take a breath…) dual-core 1.5 GHz processor. The WiFi version, on the other hand, uses the now-familiar Nvidia Tegra 3. Both models have a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. They also share the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Infinity Series will be available in the same Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold finishes already available on the current Transformer Prime.

(Editor's Note) If you are wondering why the LTE version of the new Transformer Infinity is not using the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, we are hearing that the NVIDIA part is still not compatible with LTE radio controllers and won't be for another few months.  This is also why the new HTC One X smartphone doesn't use the Tegra 3 processor on the AT&T LTE network while other phones in the family do.  So will users of the LTE version of the Infinity miss the quad-core design when moving to the dual-core option from Qualcomm instead?  While we can't be sure, the new Krait design is a "wider" CPU with a better memroy interface yet still runs at similar clock speeds and it should be faster in single or lightly threaded programs.  

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This new flagship will slot above the Transformer Prime. But ASUS hasn’t just focused on the glitter and gold – they’ve also taken the wraps off the Transformer Pad 300, which is a new entry-level model. It features a 1280x800 IPS display and uses Tegra 3 in both the 4G LTE and WiFi models. The front camera is a 1.2MP unit and the rear camera is 8MP with LED flash. 16GB of internal storage is your only option. The 300 will offer new blue, white and red color schemes not yet available on any Transformer table

Both of these new models are Transformers, which means keyboard docks will be available as an option. They also include Android 4.0 and quote the same battery life of 10 hours without the dock.

Source: ASUS

Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) Update For Original Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2012 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, ics, ice cream sandwich, eee pad transformer, asus, Android

While the new Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime and it's Transformer Prime with upgraded display sibling have stolen the spotlight from the original dock-able Transformer tablet, Asus has not forgotten about it. They recently began pushing out an Over The Air update to bring a tasty Ice Cream Sandwich to the Asus Transformer (original)!

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In case you missed it, our own Matt Smith did a review of the new Android operating system on the Transformer Prime here. While the original Transformer is running older hardware, users are reporting that aside from minor app glitches performs fairly well on the Tegra 2.  And if you've been living under a rock for the past two years, he also wrote up a nice review of the original Eee Pad Transfomer.

According to Maximum PC, users are reporting that the update was mostly a success and the performance was decent, though there seems to be a few instances of app glitchy-ness.  It will just take some time to work out the kinks in updating the older hardware, and in general I think the update is a great thing for Asus to provide, especially  this late in the game.  Perhaps we will start seeing some discounted Transformers, though we may also see them become more valuable and go for a few more dollars now that they are updated to the new ICS OS.

It is nice to see Asus continuing to support their products with new updates.  Have you received the ICS update on your Transformer yet? Let us know what you think of the performance and new features in the comments below!

Source: Maximum PC
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design, User Interface

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Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.

Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.

Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.

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So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard. 

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Transformer Prime Keyboard!!

Asus Padfone To (Finally) Debut At Mobile World Congress

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2012 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, padfone, asus, Android

Remember the Asus Padfone? I won't blame you if you do not as it is practically ancient by tech history standards. Making its first appearance at Computex 2011 last May, the device made a splash that quickly died off as it never came to market.  To be honest, I just assumed it had completely died off.  Apparently; however, Asus did not forget about it and is planning to show it off at this years Mobile World Congress according to an article over at Android Central. Here's hoping they've adjusted for the success of tablets that have surfaced in the interim and that it is at a minimum running the Honeycomb or Gingerbread (Ice Cream Sandwich would be even better) OS and a fast processor.

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The Padfone, if the specifications from last year hold true is a 4.3" smartphone that can fit snugly inside of a 10" tablet form factor display that has it's own battery. The tablet portion can charge the smartphone and/or drive the larger display and the smartphone acts as the hardware of the device with it's SoC (system on a chip) and by allowing access to the 3G and WiFi data connections of the phone's radio.

There are still many question about the viability of such a device; however, with the rise in popularity of Android phones if Asus could make it such that any Android phone (within size constraints of course) could nestle itself inside the larger touchscreen display, they might have a popular product on their hands...

The SSD powered Oaktrail tablet from Kupa is a trooper

Subject: Mobile | January 26, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: tablet, ssd, oaktrail, mobile, Kupa X11, atom Z670, atom

You might not expect to see a tablet being examined at the SSD Review, except for the Kupa X11 which contains a 64 or 128GB mSSD drive.  As the Atom and Oaktrail pairing are perhaps not the fastest mobile chips on the block, the initial testing tried to determine if that chipset would prove to be a bottleneck.  They tested the Kingspec 128GB SSD which was included in the tablet as well as a Renice X3 120GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD and a Kingston mS100 SSD.  The Kingspec was the slowest choice of the three and even though the other two did perform more impressively Oaktrail did indeed prove to limit the performance of the drives.  On the other hand, it is still faster than a HDD and the SSD helps to extend the life of this 1366 x 768 10.1″ tablet to around 10 hours.  Also worth noting is that this tablet runs Xin7 Professional, not a trimmed down OS, and will fully support Win8.

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"Just prior to CES we had received an e-mail from a reader who had spoken of a company called Kupa, a tablet manufacturer who, as the reader had stated, “wasn’t afraid to experiment outside the box”. it took us all of two seconds to get to the Kupa Website and discover the Kupa X11, a tablet PC with all the power of a full size computer to include a Intel Atom Z670 1.5Ghz Oaktrail platform, 2GB RAM and your choice of 64 or 128GB SSD. Needless to say, we were impressed."

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Source: SSD Review