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Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 17, 2014 - 05:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, Android, android one
In much the same way as FirefoxOS is targeting foreign markets with low-cost phones, with the Intex Cloud Fx as the extreme example, Google is pushing for the overseas markets with Android One. Based on Android 4.4 and updated as new versions launch, for up to two years at least, the devices will not be old and outdated.
In terms of hardware, the platform is said to feature front and rear cameras, a quad-core processor, a microSD card slot, and dual SIM slots. Google has several partners involved with the initiative: Acer, Airtel, Alcatel, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Karbonn, LAVA, Lenovo, MediaTek, Cromax, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Spice, and Xolo. Besides a baseline standard, and a bit of marketing, there does not seem to be much to the platform itself.
Of course, delivering a quality standard, at an affordable price, to places which normally cannot obtain smartphones at all is noteworthy.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 03:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbone, xbox one, controller, gamepad
A few months ago, Microsoft released 32- and 64-bit drivers for their Xbox One controller on Windows 7 and Windows 8. This was for wireless controllers attached by micro-USB to a PC. Now, Microsoft announced a new controller for Windows: the same controller, only bundled with the required cable. In fact, it can still connect wirelessly... to an Xbox One, not a PC.
The bundle will cost $59.95 (MSRP) and be available starting in November. As far as I can tell, the PC cannot update the Xbox One Controller's firmware; for that, you apparently need an Xbox One handy. It is possible that Microsoft will implement this, or already has and no-one is talking about it, but you might want to hold off until we know for a fact. One update adjusts analog stick sensitivity; this could be important, especially if you have multiple controllers at different patch levels. Yes, some PC games allow local multiplayer.
Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, space sim, rts
On September 23rd a new space strategy game by the name of Ancient Space will drop, giving those of us impatiently awaiting the Homeworld Remasters release something to tide us over. One particularly interesting feature of the game is the voice acting which will include Ron Glass from Firefly, Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers and other series, Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica and several other names immediately recognizable to Sci-Fi fans. The trailer below shows off some of the gameplay which also looks to be as impressive as the cast. Hopefully this will be as enjoyable for the story as it is for the gameplay. You can follow the links from Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more information.
The Fragging Frogs have been up to quite a bit lately, which you would have completely missed had you not the wisdom to have already joined the best gaming group on the web. For those few who have yet to join up, once you've checked out the previous link there is a new thread to help introduce yourself and your collection of games to the group. Try it, you just might like it!
"I feel like I’ve written about quite a few space RTSs in recent times, but none of them are releasing quite as soon or look quite as promising as Ancient Space. The latest trailer thankfully does more than show up Adam’s lack of sci-fi TV knowledge with its voice cast. It’s actual game footage, UI and all, and interspersed with comments from the developers about how the ship customisation and campaign systems will work."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Seven Year Humble Bundle
- End of Summer Sale @ Humble Bundle
- Celebrate GOG.com's 6th Birthday: 20+ Titles up to 80% off Each Day!
- Editorial: Some Subjective Thoughts On Objectivity @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Commander Keen: Keen Dreams Source Code Released @ Slashdot
- The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming @ Giant Bomb
- Slap my Imp up: Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper @ The Register
- Ferguson media coverage inspires game about modern journalism @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Risen 2: Dark Waters 2-Years Later Review @ OCC
- Gleaming: Icewind Dale’s Enhanced Edition @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Latest Far Cry 4 trailer introduces the mighty elephants of Kyrat @ HEXUS
- Smell The Glove: The Magicka Devs’ Gauntlet Revamp @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 12:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 9, microsoft, leak
The Register has linked to two videos which purportedly capture Windows 9, or at least Build 9834, in action and revealing some not so new tricks. The first shows a feature which will be new to anyone who has never used Linux but will be old hat to anyone who has, multiple desktops. This feature will let you have separate switchable desktops which you can run different programs on, it is not a tool to create virtual machines on the fly but is handy if you need a full desktop for development and one for ... entertainment. The second video shows off the Start Menu, tiles and the much improved placement of the power off button.
"New videos of a "Windows 9" variant have emerged, and to this hack's eyes they look to have brought Windows up to speed with tricks that various desktop flavours of Unix have had for a decade or more."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- As three million comment on net neutrality, the FCC adjusts its plans @ The Inquirer
- Apple Watch to come with AMOLED panels from LG Display @ DigiTimes
- Red Hat releases RHEL 5.11, the last minor release of Linux distribution @ The Inquirer
- COMPRO TN1600P Cloud Network Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Win An Incredible Enermax “Ahead of the Game” Upgrade Bundle @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 04:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech, g910 orion spark rgb, g910
The newly announced Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB mechanical keyboard is based on their own mechanical switch, developed in partnership with Omron, dubbed "Romer-G". It supports 16.8 million colors in the backlight under each individual key. Logitech will provide software to control this lighting and an SDK for developers to integrate custom functionality into their game. It includes nine macro buttons with three profiles.
The Romer-G switch is (at least currently) exclusive to this keyboard. It is designed with a very small actuation point, 1.5mm from the top of the key. This means that you finger will need to travel less distance, and thus take less time, before the action is registered. From a feeling standpoint, they have a soft spring and a tactile bump at the point of actuation, but no click. Logitech did not comment on whether the G910 contains o-rings to further dampen the sound.
The switches are designed for high durability as well, with an expected lifespan of 70 million keystrokes (compared to 50 million advertised by Cherry and 60 million for Razer). That said, mechanical switches are designed to be put in industrial and medical devices and left unmaintained for decades, so I am not sure how practical that advantage will be.
Their partner, Omron, also collaborates with Logitech on mechanical switches for mice.
The Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB in planned to be released this November for $179.99.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 9, threshold
In two weeks, Microsoft will be holding an event to communicate where Windows is going. It is expected that a public technical preview will launch either at the show, or immediately thereafter. The invitation reads, "Join us to hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise." This seems to mean that the next version of their desktop OS, probably called Windows 9, will have a strong focus on enterprise features. Contrast this with Windows 8, which I feel comfortable saying wanted to win consumers away from iOS and Android tablets.
Image Credit: The Verge
Virtual desktops and the Start Menu's return were strong signs, too.
Pretty much the only announcement that they could make to get me excited would be sideloading for all versions (which would also remove developer certificate requirements for those apps). I know that it is seductive from a "gatekeeper against malware" point of view, but it decimates the whole reason for having a computer. The Windows Store requirements are just too terrible. No third-party browser engines? C'mon. Microsoft has expressed their continued support of these regulations at Build, but I can hope for a surprise. Seriously Microsoft, give users the option to install what they want, regardless of the API used.
Two weeks until we know. We might even have access by then.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 03:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, game24
If you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Mission Viejo (Ca.), Indianapolis, Shanghai or Stockholm you might want to see if you can get into GAME24, a 24-hour event celebrating PC gamers that kicks off on Thursday September 18th at 6PM PDT. If you can't make it in person it will be broadcast live on the internet at www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
- New products announcements from NVIDIA and game publishers
- A DOTA 2 Invitational tournament featuring professional teams including Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, Team Tinker, and Alliance competing for a share of $15,000 in prizes.
- Mod24, the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding completion will also be held.
- Renowned modders Team Mongoose, BSMODS, and Team Kill Ninja will be at NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, California doing the onsite build. Viewers of the live stream will be the judges and three lucky winners will take home these one of a kind builds.
- Two world records will be broken!
Special guests will include
- Jay (no Silent Bob though)
- cos-play queen Chloe Dykstra
- (ex)MythBuster Grant Imahara
- Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
- also appearing will be Tiffany Smith, Zach Selwyn, Alison Haislip, Alex Albrecht, Kristin Adams, Chris Gore and Blair Butler.
More information about GAME24 and details on the many local events taking place on September 18 can be found at: www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 02:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FinFET, flexible
We've seen a few examples of OLEDs being used to create flexible displays but they are much slower than their unbending silicon rivals. With conductive ink and thread it is possible to make wearable technology but again the silicon components remain solid and immobile. Researchers in Saudi Arabia have been working on flexible technology which retains the speed of silicon transistors but is able to flex up to 0.5 mm which may sound large until you remember the size of a transistor. They have created these FinFETs by putting a thin layer of a polymer on top of the material they will be etching the transistors into and gently removing the polymer once the process has completed. This results in a FinFET which retains the power saving and performance attributes common to the 3D transistor but with the ability to bend. This won't be marketed for a while yet but in the mean time read all about it on Nanotechweb.
"Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia are continuing with their experiments to transform traditional rigid electronic wafers made from silicon into mechanically flexible and transparent ones."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tunnelling electrons make new type of transistor @ Nanotechweb
- IBM brings Watson Analytics to all with freemium model @ The Inquirer
- Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD @ The Register
- Amazon Kindle vulnerability lets hackers take over your account @ The Inquirer
- be quiet! Straight Power 10 competition @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 02:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: wow, smite, raptr, pc gaming, lol, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike
The PC gaming utility, Raptr, keeps track of per-game play time across each of their of their tracked titles. Because it is not locked to Valve, Blizzard, Riot Games, Mojang, and so forth, it compares games that are from different publishers and distribution platforms as long as the software is running. Around once each month, the company shares their findings and gives brief explanations for notable results. Again, these are not sales or download figures. This ranking is decided by the number of hours played.
First, League of Legends continued its reign as most played PC game; in fact, it widened its lead to over one-fifth of all recorded game time (20.55%). This increase was mostly attributed to the game's 4.15 update. Second place, with a significantly less 7.62%, is World of Warcraft. Raptr believes it passed DOTA 2 for two reasons: WoW gained players from their Mists of Pandaria 50%-off promotion and DOTA 2 deflated a little bit after the swell from The International tournament.
Counter-Strike: GO held steady in fourth place and
Smith Smite (Update 09/17/2014: Corrected typo), a free-to-play MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, jumped five places to fifth place.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2014 - 08:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, GTX 980
Details and photographs of the GeForce GTX 980 are leaking on various forums and websites. Based on the Maxwell architecture, it is supposed to be faster and more efficient than Kepler while being manufactured on an identical, 28nm fab process. While we were uncertain before, it now looks like the GTX 980 will be its formal name, as seen in leaked photographs, below.
Image Credit: Videocardz
As expected, the cooler is a continuation of NVIDIA's reference cooler, as seen on recent high-end graphics cards (such as the GeForce Titan). Again, this is not a surprise. The interesting part is that it is rated for about 250W whereas Maxwell is rumored to draw 180W. While the reference card has two six-pin PCIe power connectors, I am curious to see if the excess cooling will lead to interesting overclocks. That is not even mentioning what the AIB partners can do.
Image Credit: Videocardz
Beyond its over-engineering for Maxwell's TDP, it also includes a back plate.
Its display connectors have been hotly anticipated. As you can see above, the GTX 980 has five outputs: three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI. Which version of HDMI? Which version of DisplayPort? No clue at the moment. There has been some speculation regarding HDMI 2.0, and the DisplayPort 1.3 standard was just released to the public today, but I would be pleasantly surprised if even one of these made it in.
Check out Videocardz for a little bit more.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | September 15, 2014 - 05:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, R9, r9 390x, liquid cooler, liquid cooling, liquid cooling system, asetek
Less than a year after the launch of AMD's R9 290X, we are beginning to hear rumors of a follow-up. What is being called the R9 390X, because if it is called anything else, then that was a very short-lived branding scheme, might be liquid cooled. This would be the first single-processor, reference graphics card to have an integrated water cooler. That said, the public evidence is not as firm as I would normally like.
Image Credit: Baidu Forums
According to Tom's Hardware, Asetek is working on a liquid-cooled design for "an undisclosed OEM". The product is expected to ship during the first half of 2015 and the press release claims that it will "continue Asetek's success in the growing liquid cooling market". Technically, this could be a collaboration with an AIB partner, not necessarily a GPU developer. That said, the leaked photograph looks like a reference card.
We don't really know anything more than this. I would expect that it will be a refresh based on Hawaii, but that is pure speculation. I have no evidence to support that.
Personally, I would hope that a standalone air-cooled model would be available. While I have no experience with liquid cooling, it seems like a bit extra of a burden that not all purchasers of a top-of-the-line single GPU add-in board would want to bare. Specifically, placing the radiator if their case even supports it. That said, having a high-performing reference card will probably make the initial benchmarks look extra impressive, which could be a win in itself.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 04:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: spartan, microsoft, internet explorer 12, internet explorer, ie12, extension
But why would Internet Explorer need extensions? The first, and most obvious, answer is that Microsoft is trying to win back some enthusiasts to their browser (and its platforms). If Microsoft relaxes certification requirements for extensions, compared to Windows Store, it could also bridge the gap between native app and web app for enterprises, especially smaller businesses, a give them a platform without the burden of sideloading.
We might also see this being used by third parties to contribute to Internet Explorer development. In much the same way as Nokia experiments with WebCL by a Firefox extension, others could use Internet Explorer add-ons as a testing ground. In fact, according to their aforementioned 2008 paper, Microsoft Research already tested an OpenGL rendering stack in Xax.
We will probably find out more about the next IE soon.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 15, 2014 - 04:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: displayport 1.3, freesync, 5k, vesa, dockport
It is official, DisplayPort 1.3 has finished VESA approval and should be hitting the streets in the near future. Freesync support came with 1.2a which is why it was not mentioned, however DockPort has been enhanced with the higher 8.1 Gbps link rate for each of the four lanes present which means you can support a 4k monitor using two of those lanes, leaving the other two available for USB, audio or even power.
This also means that 4k and even 5k monitors can function over a single DisplayPort 1.3 cable without any compression and with the use of VESA's Coordinated Video Timing you can have a pair of 4k monitors function in multi-monitor mode ... assuming you have the graphical horsepower to run 7680 x 2160. It is rather impressive to see this jump to 32.4 Gbps combined link rate that can deliver 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data.
Newark, CA (15 September 2014) The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced the release of the DisplayPort 1.3 audio / video (A/V) standard. An update to the widely used DisplayPort 1.2a standard, this latest version increases the maximum link bandwidth to 32.4 Gbps, with each of four lanes running at a link rate of 8.1 Gbps/lane a 50% increase from the previous version of the DisplayPort standard. Allowing for transport overhead, DisplayPort's 32.4 Gbps combined link rate delivers 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data.
The increased bandwidth enables higher resolution monitors, including recently announced 5K monitors (with pixel resolutions of 5120 x 2880) using a single DisplayPort cable without the use of compression. It will also enable higher resolutions when driving multiple monitors through a single connection using DisplayPort's Multi-Stream feature, such as the use of two 4K UHD monitors, each with a pixel resolution of 3840 x 2160, when using VESA Coordinated Video Timing.
DisplayPort 1.3 continues to support video conversion to VGA, DVI and HDMI. DisplayPort 1.3 adds support for HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 with CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), which enhances DisplayPort's utility for television applications, including 4K video with copy protection. The new standard adds support for the 4:2:0 pixel structure, a video format commonly used on consumer digital television interfaces, which enables support for future 8K x 4K displays.
DisplayPort 1.3 also enhances DisplayPort's value for multi-function interfaces that combine data transport, A/V transport and other capabilities on a single cable. It further refines protocols that enable DisplayPort to share a single cable with other data types. With its higher 8.1 Gbps per-lane link rate, DisplayPort 1.3 can support a single UHD monitor with 60Hz refresh and 24-bit color over two lanes, while assigning the remaining two lanes to increase capacity for alternate data types, such as SuperSpeed USB data, as allowed in DockPort. DisplayPort is the A/V transport standard used by DockPort, Thunderbolt and other wired and wireless multi-function interface standards.
While becoming a mainstream video standard, DisplayPort continues to be at the cutting edge of A/V transport, said VESA Board of Directors Chair Alan Kobayashi, Fellow & Executive R&D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. These new enhancements to DisplayPort will facilitate both higher resolution displays, as well as easier integration of DisplayPort into multi-protocol data transports, which will satisfy consumer's desire for simplicity and ease-of-use.
The DisplayPort standard is offered to VESA members without any license fee. For more information about DisplayPort, please visit http://www.displayport.org or connect with us on YouTube.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 03:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mojang, Minecraft, microsoft
Mojang AB, a company with about 22 employees, has been sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Being that the studio is based in Sweden, I would expect that it was purchased with funds that would be taxed heavily if brought back into the States, so the large sum might not feel as large to Microsoft as if they were purchasing an American company. It should be noted that they did not require that the founders, Notch, Carl, and Jakob, stay on as employees -- and they aren't.
This, of course, leads to many concerns for die-hard Minecraft fans. First of all, what platforms (if any) will be deprecated? PlayStation? Mac? Linux? Java itself? Second, how will Microsoft change the franchise? Will they remain faithful? Will they reduce or remove third party content?
As for the founders? Only Notch seems to have commented on his next plans: participating in game making competitions and creating "small web experiments". Additionally, he says, "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately." Most of his blog post references issues between Mojang and its community, regarding the EULA, server and mod monetization, possibly the CraftBucket GPL issue, and so forth. Honestly, I like the idea that Notch would spend a significant amount of free time developing web demos. I think he would contribute a lot to Web standards, especially if he is happy doing it.
As for Microsoft? Clearly they are buying Minecraft because they are running out of Halo codenames.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2014 - 03:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: idf 2014, sony, Panasonic, Samsung, cameras
At IDF there were a few new cameras on display which caught The Register's attention in amongst the smart appliances and other gadgets. For the highest quality selfies try the Panasonic HX-500 4K activity cam which is good at depths of up to 3 metres for up to 30 minutes. Perhaps you would prefer to pair your Galaxy Note 4 with the Samsung Galaxy VR headset to give you an Occulus like look at the world; a 96-degree view which is intended to look like a 175-inch screen seen from 2 metres away. Samsung users could also pick up the Olloclip for Android, giving you fisheye and wide angle lenses for your Galaxy S4 or S5. There is more in the article, check them all out here.
"Image is everything - or so it has been said, and if the gadgets at the recent IFA techfest in Berlin are anything to go by then manufacturers certainly seem to think we’re image obsessed. With selfies being a global compulsion, perhaps they know us better than we know ourselves."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Get 1 TB of Military Grade Online Backup For $19 From iDrive @ Gizmodo
- Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around @ The Register
- Brando Nexus 7 II Protective Accessories Presentation @ Madshrimps
- Sandberg Credit Card 850mAh Powerbank Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | September 15, 2014 - 02:24 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radio-on-a-chip, iot, internet of things
Tiny and passively-powered radios would make for some interesting applications. One major issue is that you cannot shrink an antenna down infinitely; its size is dependent upon the wavelength of EM radiation that it is trying to detect. Researchers at Stanford and Berkeley have announced "ant-sized" radio-on-a-chip devices, fabricated at 65nm, which are powered by the signal that they gather.
The catch is that, because their antenna is on the order of a few millimeters, it is tuned for ~60 GHz. There are reasons why you do not see too many devices operate at this frequency. First, processing that signal with transistors is basically a non-starter, so they apparently designed a standard integrated circuit for the task.
The other problem is that 60 GHz is an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) and, with its high frequency, is very difficult to transmit over long ranges. The 57-64 GHz region, in particular, is a range which oxygen resonates at. While it is possible to brute-force a powerful signal through a sensitive antenna, that defeats the above purpose. Of course, the researchers have been honest about this. Right in their IEEE abstract, they claim a current, measured range of 50cm. In their Stanford press release, they state that this is designed to be part of a network with units every meter (or so). Current bandwidth is a little over 12 megabit.
Simply put, this will not become your new WiFi hotspot. However, for small and connected devices that are in close proximity, this could provide an interesting communication method for when size, cost, and power efficiency trump speed and range.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 15, 2014 - 01:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: surface 3, surface, microsoft
Through their blog, Microsoft claims that their Surface Pro 3 devices are selling out in their recently added, overseas markets. In parts of Australia, all models were sold out early in the first day (we can of course question how many is "some retailers" and how much stock each had). The company expects to have appropriate stock levels in a week or two.
Honestly, I never quite get these announcements of low stock. While it is better than having too much stock, and these releases might ease the nerves of shy investors, having too low stock is a problem, too. It is often a sign of something lacking: production, confidence, market insight, distribution, and so forth. It can tell an interesting story if these sales figures are immense, see the Nintendo Wii, but often it just raises a critical eyebrow. This is especially true if concrete figures are danced around.
I mean, if someone is at a store and looking for a Surface but none is available, do you really need to let them know that you intend to make more?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 14, 2014 - 10:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: motorola, moto 360, smartwatch
When I covered the announcement of the Apple Watch, one of our readers pointed out that we had very little smart watch coverage. That is fair critique, and I can see how it appeared to give Apple an unfair slant. As far as I know, we will not be reviewing any smart watch, of any sort, for the foreseeable future (my phone still runs Froyo). Engadget and Ars Technica did, though.
Android Wear launched with three smart watches: the LG G Watch, the Samsung Gear Live, and (after a little delay) the Motorola Moto 360. The third one is a bit different from the other two in that it features a round screen. Both sites like the design but complain about its use of a TI OMAP3 SoC and its limited battery life. The OMAP3630 is manufactured at 45nm, which is a few process shrinks behind today's 28nm products and soon-to-be-released devices with 20nm and 14nm processors. With a 300mAh battery, a little less than a half or a third of a typical AAA battery, this leads to frequent charging. The question is whether this will be the same for all smart watches, and we don't know that yet. The Samsung and the LG smart watches, under Ars Technica's custom benchmark, vastly outperform it, though.
Engadget also complained about its price, at $250 and $299, which is actually $100 and $50 less than Apple's starting price. Ars Technica neither praised nor complained about the price.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 10:12 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, intex, Firefox OS, firefox, cloud fx
If you were on a mission to make the cheapest possible mobile phone, you would probably not do much better than Intex Cloud Fx. Running Firefox OS, it will cost users about $35 to purchase it outright. Its goal is to bring the internet to places which would otherwise have nothing.
I believe the largest concession made by this phone is its RAM -- 128 MB. Yes, I had a computer with 32 MB of RAM and it browsed the internet just fine (on Netscape Navigator 2 through 4). I also had a computer before that (which was too slow to run Windows 3.1 but hey it had a turbo button). This is also the amount of RAM on the first and second generation iPod Touches. Nowadays, it is very little. Ars Technica allegedly made it crash by scrolling too fast and attempting to run benchmarks on it. This leads into its other, major compromise: its wireless connectivity. It does not support 3G. Edge is the best that you will get.
Other than those two points: it has a 1 GHz Spreadtrum SoC, 46MB of storage, a 2MP camera, and a 1250mAh battery. You do get WiFi, Bluetooth, and a microSD card slot. It also supports two SIM cards if necessary.
Again, at $35, this is not designed for America or Western Europe. This is for the areas of the world that will probably not experience the internet at all unless it is through a mobile phone. For people in India and Asia, it is about the lowest barrier to entry of the internet that is possible. You can also check out phones from other partners of Mozilla.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 05:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, chrome os, Android
To some extent...
This is not the entire Google Play Store; in fact, it is just four Android apps at launch: Duolingo, Evernote, Sight Words, and Vine. According to a Google spokesperson, via Ars Technica, the company built an Android platform on top of Native Client, which is their way of sandboxing (a subset of) native code for use in applications which require strict security (such as a web browser). Android apps can then see and use those platform-dependent Android APIs, but be kept at two arms-lengths away from the host system.
From the app's standpoint, code will not need to be changed or ported. Of course, this is sound in theory, but little bugs can surface in actual practice. In fact, Flipboard was demonstrated at Google I/O under this initiative but is curiously absent from launch. To me, it seems like a few bugs need to be resolved before it is deemed compatible (it is dubbed "Beta" after all). Another possibility is that the app was not yet optimized for a Chromebook's user experience. Claiming either would be pure speculation, so who knows?
Android apps using App Runtime for Chrome (Beta) are available now at the Chrome Web Store.