Ahead of MWC, 2015 Is Shaping up to Be a Good Year for Low-Cost Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2015 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, MWC 2015, MWC, Moto E, LG Magna, ios, Android 5.0

Last year my favorite smartphone became the 2014 version of the Moto G. This was (and still is) a $179 unlocked Android phone that shipped with 4.4.4 KitKat, but recently received an OTA update to 5.0 Lollipop (and subsequently 5.0.2 via a second OTA update). Motorola’s aggressive pricing made the phone compelling on paper, but using the device was even more impressive. It looked good, with a 5-inch 720p IPS display and the same design language as the Moto X and later Nexus 6, and ran a virtually untouched stock Android OS. It was never going to win any awards for raw speed, but the quad-core Snapdragon 400 SoC was plenty fast for daily use. The main drawback was a glaring one, however: the Moto G was not LTE capable. Enter the new Moto E.

Screenshot_2015-02-28-16-19-06~2.jpg

The Moto E 2nd Edition

Here are some quick specs from Motorola:

Moto E 2nd Edition (LTE capable)
4.5” 540x960 display
Android 5.0.x
Snapdragon 410
Quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53/Adreno 306
1GB RAM/8GB storage
2390 mAh battery
Unlocked, $149

We are already off to a solid start in 2015 with a great option from Motorola in the new 2nd edition Moto E. This LTE capable smartphone might look a little chunky, but the specs make it more that just a compelling option at $149 (unlocked) as it could have the disruptive impact on price that Microsoft just couldn’t make last year with their inexpensive Lumia phones. With 2015’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) fast approaching the Moto E has already been making some noise in the affordable phone space that last year’s Moto G played a big part in, and this time the message is clear: in 2015 a smartphone needs to have LTE, regardless of price.

To be fair Microsoft has already addressed need for LTE with their low-cost Windows Phone devices like the Lumia 635 (which is actually selling for just $49 on Amazon now), but the app ecosystem for the platform is just too restrictive to make it a viable solution compared to Android and iOS. Honestly, I love the Windows Phone OS but there are too many missing apps to make it a daily driver. So, since Windows clearly isn’t the answer and Apple won’t be selling a sub-$200 unlocked smartphone anytime soon (the cheapest unlocked iPhone is the 8GB 5c at $450), that leaves Android (of course).

phpocsjju~2~2.jpg

LG's 2015 mid-range smartphone lineup

Another possibility comes from LG, as ahead of MWC there was a press release from the company showcasing their new “mid-range” smartphone lineup for 2015. Among the models listed is another phone that matches the specs associated with a $200-ish unlocked phone, but pricing has not been announced yet.

LG Magna (LTE capable) - Unreleased
5.0” 720x1280 display
Android 5.0.x
Quad-core 1.2/1.3GHz
1GB RAM, 8GB storage
2540 mAh battery

We await the announcements from MWC and there are sure to be many other examples of low-cost LTE devices, but already it’s looking like it won’t take more than $200 and a SIM card to avoid the endless device upgrade cycle in 2015.

Imagination Launches PowerVR GT7900, "Super-GPU" Targeting Consoles

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 26, 2015 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: super-gpu, PowerVR, Imagination Technologies, gt7900

As a preview to announcements and releases being made at both Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the Game Developers Summit (GDC) next week, Imagination Technologies took the wraps off of a new graphics product they are calling a "super-GPU". The PowerVR GT7900 is the new flagship GPU as a part of its Series7XT family that is targeting a growing category called "affordable game consoles." Think about the Android-powered set-top devices like the Ouya or maybe Amazon's Kindle TV.

gt7900-1.png

PowerVR breaks up its GPU designs into unified shading clusters (USCs) and the GT7900 has 16 of them for a total of 512 ALU cores. Imagination has previously posted a great overview of its USC architecture design and how you can compare its designs to other GPUs on the market. Imagination wants to claim that the GT7900 will offer "PC-class gaming experiences" though that is as ambiguous as the idea of a work load of a "console-level game." But with rated peak performance levels hitting over 800 GFLOPS in FP32 and 1.6 TFLOPS in FP16 (half-precision) this GPU does have significant theoretical capability.

  PowerVR GT7900 Tegra X1
Vendor Imagination Technologies NVIDIA
FP32 ALUs 512 256
FP32 GFLOPS 800 512
FP16 GFLOPS 1600 1024
GPU Clock 800 MHz 1000 MHz
Process Tech 16nm FinFET+ 20nm TSMC

Imagination also believes that PowerVR offers a larger portion of its peak performance for a longer period of time than the competition thanks to the tile-based deferred rendering (TBDR) approach that has been "refined over the years to deliver unmatched efficiency."

gt7900-2.png

The FP16 performance number listed above is useful as an extreme power savings option where the half-precision compute operates in a much more efficient manner. A fair concern is how many applications, GPGPU or gaming, actually utilize the FP16 data type but having support for it in the GT7900 allows developers to target it.

Other key features of the GT7900 include support for OpenGL ES 3.1 + AEP (Android Extension Pack), hardware tessellation and ASTC LDR and HDR texture compression standards. The GPU also can run in a multi-domain virtualization mode that would allow multiple operating systems to run in parallel on a single platform.

gt7900-3.png

Imagination believes that this generation of PowerVR will "usher a new era of console-like gaming experiences" and will showcase a new demo at GDC called Dwarf Hall.

I'll be at GDC next week and have already setup a meeting with Imagination to talk about the GT7900 so I can have some hands on experiences to report back with soon. I am continually curious about the market for these types of high-end "mobile" GPUs with the limited market that the Android console market currently addresses. Imagination does claim that the GT7900 is beating products with performance levels as high as the GeForce GT 730M discrete GPU - no small feat.

Dell's Venue 8 7000 continues to impress

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2015 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: z3580, venue 8 7000, venue, tablet, silvermont, moorefield, Intel, dell, atom z3580, Android

Dell's Venue 8 7000 tablet sports an 8.4" 2560x1600 OLED display and is powered by the Moorefield based Atom Z3580 SOC, 2GB LPDDR3-1600 with 16GB internal of internal storage with up to a 512GB Micro SD card supported.  Even more impressive is that The Tech Report had no issues installing apps or moving files to the SD card with ES File Explorer, unlike many Android devices that need certain programs to reside on the internal storage media.   Like Ryan, they had a lot of fun with the RealSense Camera and are looking forward to the upgrade to Lollipop support.  Check out The Tech Report's opinion of this impressive Android tablet right here.

screen.jpg

"Dell's Venue 8 7000 is the thinnest tablet around, and that's not even the most exciting thing about it. This premium Android slate packs a Moorefield-based Atom processor with quad x86 cores, a RealSense camera that embeds 3D depth data into still images, and a staggeringly beautiful OLED display that steals the show. Read on for our take on a truly compelling tablet."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

NVIDIA Brings Saint's Row IV to #SHIELDTuesday. Up Next: Alan Wake and then Metro: Last Light Redux

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 20, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, Saints Row IV, nvidia, metro last light, gridtuesday, grid, alan wake

Once again, NVIDIA brings some really good games to their GRID service, which is currently free for all SHIELD owners. The concept is that NVIDIA will compute the graphics at their server farms, accept your input, and return an audio/video stream of the result. This is a very convenient way to access content, but it cannot replace actual ownership for guaranteed access to specific art that find intrinsically valuable. It can help you discover new content, though.

nvidia-SHIELD-sr4-alanwake-metroll.jpg

This week, Saint's Row IV is available to be played on the GRID gaming service. Its predecessor, Saint's Row: The Third, was published on GRID earlier this month. It would be good to play them in order, and they are both worth your time. I did find that the campaign of Saint's Row IV was a bit less unique because the majority of missions were a handful of side-missions strung together, while Saint's Row: The Third had more scenario-based objectives, with the side-missions as an option to build up stats (or just be fun) between these. On the other hand, the movement mechanics were genius in IV. Play them both.

Looking ahead, next Tuesday will be Alan Wake. This is a survival-horror title from Remedy that makes you appreciate just how long your batteries last in real life. Basically, electricity is light and light is a vulnerability for the monsters that want to destroy you. The week after, the third of March, is Metro: Last Light Redux. This is one of the most visually demanding games available, and it is still used as a GPU benchmark at this site.

Saint's Row IV went live last Tuesday, while Alan Wake arrives on the 24th and Metro: Last Light comes in last, on March 3rd.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Recants: Overclocking Returning to Mobile GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 19, 2015 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, mobile, gpu

After a week or so of debate circling NVIDIA's decsision to disable overclocking on mobility GPUs, we have word that the company has reconsidered and will be re-enabling the feature in next month's driver release:

As you know, we are constantly tuning and optimizing the performance of your GeForce PC.

We obsess over every possible optimization so that you can enjoy a perfectly stable machine that balances game, thermal, power, and acoustic performance.

Still, many of you enjoy pushing the system even further with overclocking.

Our recent driver update disabled overclocking on some GTX notebooks. We heard from many of you that you would like this feature enabled again. So, we will again be enabling overclocking in our upcoming driver release next month for those affected notebooks. 

If you are eager to regain this capability right away, you can also revert back to 344.75.

Now, I don't want to brag here, but we did just rail NVIDIA for this decision on last night's podcast...and then the decision was posted on NVIDIA's forums just four hours ago... I'm not saying, but I'm just saying!

nvidia-logo.jpg

All kidding aside, this is great news! And NVIDIA desperately needs to be paying attention to what consumers are asking for in order to make up for some poor decisions made in the last several months. Now (or at least soon), you will be able to return to your mobile GPU overclocking!

ASUS Introduces Ultra-Slim ZenBook UX305 Notebook with Core M and 1080p IPS for $699

Subject: Mobile | February 16, 2015 - 03:54 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, UX305, ultraportable, ips display, core m, asus, 5Y10

ASUS has announced the availability and pricing for the ZenBook UX305, and the specifications are quite exceptional for the price. Not content to compete on hardware specs alone the design of the notebook is a miniscule 0.48” thick, making the UX305 the world’s thinnest ultraportable notebook according to ASUS.

ux305_1.jpg

As impressive as the slim profile of the aluminum design might be, it is more impressive to look over the main specifications of the $699 UX305:

  • Intel Core M 5Y10 processor
  • 8GB of LPDDR3 memory
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch 1920x1080 IPS display (matte finish)

I'll let that sink in for a moment. Quite an impressive list given the MSRP for these specifications is, again, only $699. At this price it's going to be very difficult to beat the UX305 considering what’s under the hood, as this configuration contains double the memory and storage space compared to many ultraportables in this price class. And 1080p IPS on top of everything is just icing on the cake. Battery life should be very good considerin the processor the heart of this is Intel's newest low-power Broadwell-based Core M (the 5Y10), which features HD 5300 graphics and a TDP of just 4.5W. Moreover, the processor is passively cooled and the notebook features a completely fanless design for silent operation.

ux305_2.jpg

Since there are no fans to expell heat ASUS has made it a point to promise that the palm rest will always stay cool thanks to their “IceCool technology” (whatever that is - but I really hope it’s an ice cube cooling system). The UX305 is powered by a 45Wh Lithium Polymer battery that has a claimed 10-hour battery life, and the notebook features 802.11ac wireless, three USB 3.0 ports, and includes a USB Ethernet adapter (a nice touch). ASUS is also touting a premium sound system with this notebook, employing a B&O ICEpower amplifier and enhanced with their proprietary “SonicMaster audio”. Rounding out the feature list is an SD card reader and 720p webcam.

The notebook weighs in at 2.6 Lbs, and this configuration of the UX305 is available immediately (listed on their official store). With the surprisingly low MSRP it sounds like this ZenBook will be a solid choice for anyone looking for the latest notebook tech on a budget, and depending on performance and real-world battery life it could just be that mythical MacBook Air "killer" (if you're ok with Windows 8 over OS X, of course).

Source: ASUS

NVIDIA Event on March 3rd. Why?

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 11, 2015 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, nvidia, mwc 15, MWC, gdc 2015, GDC, DirectX 12

On March 3rd, NVIDIA will host an event called “Made to Game”. Invitations have gone out to numerous outlets, including Android Police, who published a censored screenshot of it. This suggests that it will have something to do with the Tegra X1, especially since the date is the day after Mobile World Congress starts. Despite all of this, I think it is for something else entirely.

nvidia-march-3-2015-event.png

Image Credit: Android Police

Allow me to highlight two points. First, Tech Report claims that the event is taking place in San Francisco, which is about as far away from Barcelona, Spain as you can get. It is close to GDC however, which takes also starts on March 2nd. If this was going to align with Mobile World Congress, you ideally would not want attendees to take 14-hour flight for a day trip.

Second, the invitation specifically says: “More than 5 years in the making, what I want to share with you will redefine the future of gaming.” Compare that to the DirectX 12 announcement blog post on March 20th of last year (2014): “Our work with Microsoft on DirectX 12 began more than four years ago with discussions about reducing resource overhead. For the past year, NVIDIA has been working closely with the DirectX team to deliver a working design and implementation of DX12 at GDC ((2014)).”

So yeah, while it might involve the Tegra X1 processor for Windows 10 on mobile devices, which is the only reason I can think of that they would want Android Police there apart from "We're inviting everyone everywhere", I expect that this event is for DirectX 12. I assume that Microsoft would host their own event that involves many partners, but I could see NVIDIA having a desire to save a bit for something of their own. What would that be? No idea.

Samsung's phabulous phablet, the Note 4

Subject: Mobile | February 11, 2015 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Note 4, Exynos 5433, snapdragon 805, phablet

At 5.7" and 176g the Samsung Note 4 is a large device and it has a resolution to match it at 2560x1440.  That resolution does slow it down somewhat, in graphics tests it does fall behind the iPhone 6 Plus except in Basemark X and 3DMark's Ice Storm test but it does show up the competition when it comes to graphical quality with only NVIDIA's Shield beating it on the GFXBench Quality tests.  In the CPU tests it scored moderately well on single threaded applications but wipes the floor with the competition when it comes to multi-threaded performance which you should keep in mind when choosing your purchases.  To see more benchmarks and details The Tech Report's full review can be found right here.

note4-pen.jpg

"Most of the world gets a variant of Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 based on Qualcomm's familiar Snapdragon 805 system-on-a-chip (SoC). In Samsung's home country of Korea, though, the firm ships a different variant of the Note 4 based on Samsung LSI's Exynos 5433 SoC. With eight 64-bit CPU cores and a 64-bit Mali-T760 GPU, the Eyxnos 5433 could make this version the fastest and most capable Note 4--and it gives us some quality time with the Cortex-A53 and A57 CPU cores that will likely dominate the Android market in 2015."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

NVIDIA Releases 347.52 Drivers and Brothers for GRID

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 11, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, nvidia, gridtuesday, grid, graphics drivers, geforce, drivers

Update: Whoops! The title originally said "374.52", when it should be "347.52". My mistake. Thanks "Suddenly" in the comments!

Two things from NVIDIA this week, a new driver and a new game for the NVIDIA GRID. The new driver aligns with the release of Evolve, which came out on Tuesday from the original creators of Left4Dead. The graphics vendor also claims that it will help Assassin's Creed: Unity, Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Crew, and War Thunder. Several SLi profiles were also added for Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Black Desert, Dying Light, H1Z1, Heroes of the Storm, Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell, Total War: Attila, and Triad Wars.

Brothers_A_Tale_of_Two_Sons_cover_art.jpg

On the same day, NVIDIA released Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on GRID, bringing the number of available games up to 37. This game came out in August 2013 and received a lot of critical praise. Its control style is unique, using dual-thumbstick gamepads to simultaneously control both characters. More importantly, despite being short, the game is said to have an excellent story, even achieving Game of the Year (2013) for TotalBiscuit based on its narrative, which is not something that he praises often.

I'd comment on the game, but I've yet to get the time to play it. Apparently it is only a couple hours long, so maybe I can fit it in somewhere.

Also, they apparently are now calling this “#SHIELDTuesday” rather than “#GRIDTuesday”. I assume this rebranding is because people may not know that GRID exists, but they would certainly know if they purchased an Android-based gaming device for a couple hundred dollars or more. We could read into this and make some assumptions about GRID adoption rates versus SHIELD purchases, or even purchases of the hardware itself versus their projections, but it would be pure speculation.

Both announcements were made available on Tuesday, for their respective products.

Source: NVIDIA

Razer Blade Gaming Laptop Refreshed for 2015

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 3, 2015 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: razer blade, razer, nvidia, Intel, GTX 970M

When the Razer Blade launched, it took a classy design and filled it with high-end gaming components. Its competitors in the gaming space were often desktop replacements, which were powerful but not comfortable, every-day laptops. The Blade also came with a $2800 (at the time) price-tag, and that stunted a lot of reviews. It has been refreshed a few times since then, including today.

Razer-Blade-2015-front.jpg

The New Razer Blade QHD+ has a 14-inch 3200x1800 display, with multi-touch and an LED backlight. The panel is IGZO, which is a competitor to IPS for screens with a high number of pixels per inch (such as the 4K PQ321Q from ASUS). This is housed in a milled aluminum chassis that is about 7/10th of an inch thick.

Its power brick is rated at 150W, which is surprisingly high for a laptop. I am wondering how much of that electricity is headroom for fast-charging (versus higher performance when not on battery). Most power adapters for common laptops that I've seen are between 60W and 95W. In a small, yet meticulously designed chassis, I would have to assume that thermal headroom of either the heatsinks or the components themselves would be the limiting factor.

Razer-Blade-2015-side.jpg

On the topic of specifications, they are expectedly high-end.

The GPU was upgraded to the GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM (up from a 3GB 870M) and the CPU is now a Core i7-4720HQ (up from a Core i7-4702HQ). The system memory also got doubled, to 16GB (up from 8GB). It also has 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4a out, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and (of course) a high-end, backlit keyboard. Razer offers a choice in M.2 SSD capacity: 128GB for $2199.99, 256GB for $2399.99, or 512GB for $2699.99. This is kind-of expensive for solid state memory, $1.56/GB for the jump to 256GB and $1.17/GB to go from there to 512GB.

The New Razer Blade Gaming Laptop is available now at Razerzone.com in the US, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It will arrive at Microsoft Stores in the USA on February 16th. China, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, UAE, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia can purchase it on Razerzone.com in March. Prices start (as stated above) at $2199.99.

Source: Razer

MediaTek MT6753 64-bit Eight-Core SoC Announced

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 1, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: mt6753, mediatek

We do not talk about MediaTek's higher-end products too often. Part of that is because they use stock architectures, ARM's Cortex CPU, ARM's Mali GPU, and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GPU, rather than designing their own CPU and/or GPU portion. Likewise, their design wins are also not covered too much on this site, such as the new Amazon Fire HD tablets, for their own reasons. They still make some interesting chips, though.

mediatek-soc-roadmap-2015.jpg

Image Credit: A Weibo user via GSM-Arena

The MediaTek MT6753 is a true eight-core, 64-bit ARM SoC. Its press release makes the rest of its details... confusing. The release claims that it is clocked at 1.5 GHz and contains an ARM Mali-T720 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2. The ARM Mali-T720 is actually capable of OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.1. This leads some sites to report that the MT6753 actually contains a Mali-T760, which is newer and can utilize OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.2 (it is also used in the MT6752 that was released several months ago). Other sites report what MediaTek claims.

GSM-Arena, one site that claims the (more-sensible) Mali-T760, also claims that the Cortex CPU cores can be clocked up to 1.7 GHz. This might not be inaccurate either, because it could be intended to run at ~1.3 to 1.5 GHz with a 1.7 GHz peak for vendors that want to take it to eleven. Alternatively, they could be wrong and it could peak at 1.5 GHz. We don't know, and MediaTek should be more clear about these important details.

Everyone seems to agree on the chip's networking capability, though. It will directly support LTE protocols for both China and western markets. This is expected to make them more competitive against Qualcomm, which might lead to more interesting designs.

Devices containing the MT6753 are expected to ship next quarter.

Source: MediaTek

A pair of GTX 980Ms and a Cherry Keyboard; of course you can afford the MSI GT80 Titan

Subject: Mobile | January 29, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: cherry, sli, gaming notebook, GTX 980M

How can you not be saving every penny to buy a MSI GT80 Titan?  With an i7 4980HQ running at 2.8 - 4GHz, 32GB of DDR3, four 256GB SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB HDD for long term storage along with a pair of GTX 980M's powering a 467mm 1080p display.   MSI did put together a nice package for those who don't mind paying the price, you also get a mouse, gel wrist pad, gold W, A, S, D and ESC keys and even a little plush dragon in addition to the laptop.  Check out the full review of the most powerful gaming laptop on the planet over at Kitguru but keep in mind, if you have to ask the price then you can't afford it.

DSCF5534.jpg

"Few products have generated as much hype and interest as the MSI GT80 Titan Gaming laptop. Kitguru was the first major publication to cover the new laptop when we flew over to Taipei last November. LEO then got his hands on an early pre retail sample for KITGURU TV back in December."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: KitGuru

Curious what a Xiaomi phone is like?

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2015 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, redmi note, android 4.4

We hear a lot about Xiaomi products here in North America but as they are not commonly found for sale by the major providers we do not tend to see them in action.  Madshrimps recently reviewed the 5.5" Redmi Note, one of their lower priced offerings.  The screen is 720p, powered by a 1.6GHz Snapdragon 400 series CPU and using the Adreno 305 GPU along with 2GB of low power DDR3 and 8 GB of onboard storage.  The base OS is a modified version of Android 4.4 and it comes with a wide variety of apps installed, including many now popular fitness apps.  If you are curious how a Xiaomi phone priced under $200 without contract performs and just what it comes with, check out the review here.

intro.jpg

"The Redmi Note 4G smartphone has impressed us positively because if offers a lot for its value; the incorporated Snapdragon 400 MSM8928 SoC from Qualcomm may not have a very powerful 3D component but it compensates with good CPU performance, quite decent power consumption and thanks to that we did not have the feeling that the smartphone discharges pretty fast right in front of our eyes as we have seen with some MTK6592 units which have reviewed in the past."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: MadShrimps

CES 2015: Audi & LG Partner on Smartwatch Running webOS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: smartwatch, LG, ces 2015, CES, audi

There is a unique smartwatch at CES this year, which unfolds to become a camera quadcopter. I guess surprisingly, for some people, a selfie stick is not offbeat enough. And that's fine, more power to them.

lg-audi-watch-webos-13m.jpg

Image Credit: Android Central

There is also a second, unique smart watch at CES this year because it does not run Android (or iOS). The unnamed device, which is a collaboration between LG and Audi, is powered by webOS. In case you missed it, LG has licensed webOS from HP for use in its smart TVs. The operating system is open source under the permissive Apache license.

When Android Central was playing around with the watch, they noticed the listing of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC (MSM8626). The 8626 is a quad-core, ARM Cortex A7-based processor (up to 1.2 GHz) with a Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU. This is a fair amount of power for a smartwatch, although core count and frequency could be reduced for battery life.

With Mobile World Congress coming up in February (update Jan 9th @ 11:30am: sorry for the mistake... it's the first week of March), we might see more details soon.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

CES 2015: MediaTek MT2601 Low-Power SoC for Wearables

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: smartwatch, mt2601, mediatek, ces 2015, CES

When you start getting into the wearables market, even mobile SoCs can be somewhat big and power-hungry. As such, we are seeing more innovation in processors that satisfy these lower classes (which could just be us paying more attention). The MediaTek MT2601 is one such device, which combines a pair of ARM Cortex-A7 cores (1.2 GHz) with an ARM Mali 400MP GPU (intended frequency unknown) on a package PCB that is less than 480mm2. (Edit @ 9:48PM -- they seem to mean the SoC and other chips, like the Bluetooth module)

mediatek.jpg

MediaTek's release does not list fab nodes, but PDAdb.net claims that it is designed for 28nm.

Of course, these chips are designed to be low cost, low power, and whatever performance can be squeezed out of those two requirements, so it might not be the most interesting SoC that we can talk about. Still, battery life has been a major hindrance to smart watches and other small, niche devices. It will be interesting to see new-generation devices that use these components.

Heck, if I had more time, I might even want to hack around with these directly.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

CES 2015: Calyx Audio PaT USB DAC and Headphone Amp for PC and Mobile

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio

For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.

calyx_pat_1.png

Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)

The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).

The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.

calyx_pat_2.JPG

The tiny prototype PaT in action

The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.

In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!

The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: Calyx

CES 2015: Dell XPS 13 Notebook is Slim, Sleek and Nearly Bezel-less

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: XPS 13, dell, ces 2015, CES, broadwell-u, Broadwell

Honestly, it takes something pretty special to get us excited about a laptop in today's market. Sure, the MSI GT80 Titan was able to do it but it required a full-travel Cherry MX Brown keyboard to do it! The new Dell XPS 13 was able to as well, but for a very different reason.

xps13-1.jpg

This laptop takes up the physical space of a standard 11-in laptop but is able to showcase a 13-in screen with incredibly minuscule 5.7mm bezels. That screen will be available in both 3200x1800 (WQHD+) and 1920x1080 (with a matte finish) resolutions, the lower of which will have models starting at the $1299 price tag. The higher resolution screen options will reach as high as $1699 with SSD capacity of 512GB. The system is powered by Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors using the new Broadwell-U architecture so you are absolutely not sacrificing any performance for the sake of the form factor.

I still have to get my hands on several other notebooks that have upgraded chassis designs for Broadwell-U, but for now, the Dell XPS 13 is easily the most impressive candidate at CES.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

CES 2015: Dell Venue 8 7000 8-in Atom Tablet

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: z3580, video, venue 8 7000, Intel, dell, ces 2015, CES, atom

Dell's Venue 8 7000-series Android tablet has been previewed for some time with my first hands on coming at the Intel Developer Forum this past September. The specifications are pretty straight forward.

venue-2.jpg

  • Intel Atom Z3580 Quad-Core processor (Burst clock of 2.33 GHz)
  • 2GB of LP-DDR3
  • 16GB of on board storage (expandable to 64GB via SD)
  • 8.4-in 2560x1600 OLED screen
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life
  • Android 4.4.4
  • Intel RealSense 3D Camera

venue-1.jpg

But the appeal of the tablet is in the beauty of the design. The screen resolution makes images and text crisp and clear and the bezel is incredibly small, giving the appearance of an edge-to-edge screen design. It weighs less than 11 oz (305g) and is 6mm thick.

The Venue 8 7000 will be shipping today (and is already showing up for sale at some retailers) for $399. We are working with Dell to get a sample unit of this engineering showcase.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

CES 2015: ASUS Transformer Book Chi Series - T300, T100, and T90 2-in-1 Convertibles

Subject: Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: windows, transformer book, T90, T300, T100, Chi, ces 2015, CES, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has announced their new lineup of Transformer Book Chi 2-in-1 Windows notebooks, and the new flagship model will feature an Intel Core M processor and up to WQHD resolution.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi.jpg

The T300 Chi is a 12.5” 2-in-1 with the option of either 1920x1080 or 2560x1440 displays, and this model is powered by an Intel Core M processor.  ASUS has also moved to an all-new, all-aluminum design for these new detachable tablet/notebook computers, which allows them to be extremely thin.

ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi_back.jpg

The T100 Chi is a smaller 10.1” design with a modest Intel Atom SoC, but it still offers a 1920x1200 (WUXGA) screen resolution. The T100 has the distinction of being “the world’s thinnest Windows tablet at an incredible 7.2mm” according to ASUS.

Rounding out the lineup we have the T90 Chi, which is an 8.9” Atom-powered 2-in-1 with a 1280x800 display.

ASUS Transformer Book T90 Chi.png

The Transformer Book Chi T300 will start at $799 for WQHD version, $699 for FHD version. The  T100 will start at $399, while the Chi T90 starts at $299. No specific word on availability yet.

Full specs from ASUS on the Transformer Book product site.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: ASUS

CES 2015: ASUS Announces Flagship ZenFone 2 Smartphone with Android 5.0

Subject: Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
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.

ASUS ZenFone 2.png

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.

Brand New ZenUI.jpg

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).

ASUS ZenFone 2 colors.png

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.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: ASUS