Lenovo Officially Acquires Motorola Mobility For $2.91 Billion

Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2014 - 11:40 PM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, finance, Android

Lenovo officially acquired Motorola Mobility from Google in a deal worth $2.91 billion (both cash and stock) today. Following the acquisition, Motorola will exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenovo. Motorola will retain its headquarters in Chicago's Merchandise Mart along with satellite offices (including Silicon Valley) and approximately 3,500 employees. Note that Google will retain the majority of Motorola's patent portfolio along with the Advanced Technology and Projects research division.

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Lenovo now owns the Motorola brand as well as the Moto and DROID trademarks. Lenovo expects to sell 100 million smartphones within the first year following the acquisition. These smartphones will allegedly continue to feature a stock Android experience with a focus of quick OS updates. Specifically, this Motorola blog post states:

"We will continue to focus on pure Android and fast upgrades, and remain committed to developing technology to solve real consumer problems. And we will continue to develop mobile devices that bring people unprecedented choice, value and quality." -

Lenovo has indicated that it plans to aggressively pursue selling Motorola devices in China, emerging markets, and even stateside. That last bit is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the buyout. Lenovo has been producing smartphones for a couple of years now, and while the mobile devices have held promise, they have yet to be made available in the US market. Now that Lenovo owns Motorola, the company has the branding power, experience, and carrier relationships to bring their devices stateside in a big way. 

Google was not necessarily bad for Motorola but the potential conflicts of interest with other Android phone manufactures, I think, resulted in Google being much more reserved with Motorola when it came to producing new Android hardware. Now that Lenovo holds the future of Motorola, I think the company will be free to compete with new hardware running any manner of OS but especially Android. I'm interested to see where Motorola will go from here and the kinds of devices we'll see from the now Lenovo-owned company. 

Source: Motorola

MSI's GT80 Titan laptop with a mechanical keyboard coming soon

Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2014 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: msi, GT80 Titan, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx brown, gaming laptop

The full details are still a little sparse but we do know one thing for sure, the MSI GT80 Titan will be the first gaming laptop with an integral mechanical keyboard, it also happens to be backlit.  The laptop is an 18" model and though it may look large in the pictures MSI reports it will be 17% thinner and 22% lighter than similar machines.  They have also incorporated the SteelSeries Engine with CloudSync to allow you to save and synchronize settings via SteelSeries cloud storage.  Check out the full PR below.

City of Industry, Calif. – October 30, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, unveils the GT80 Titan, the world’s first gaming laptop with a mechanical keyboard.

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First of its kind, MSI’s GT80 Titan ushers the future of gaming by integrating a SteelSeries gaming keyboard with Cherry Brown MX switches into the 18-inch gaming beast. Mechanical keyboards provide superior tactile feedback, increases durability, and enhances overall gaming experience by eliminating key jamming even during the most heated battle sessions.

“Performance is key for gamers and the GT80 Titan will forever change the mobile gaming experience,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “We are proud to be at the forefront of the gaming evolution and will continue to provide solutions that deliver the most outstanding gaming experience in the world.”

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MSI’s newest gaming laptop uses standard Cherry switches and a standard keycap with 27mm of thickness, nearly 5 times of traditional laptop keyboards. It is also the world’s slimmest and lightest 18-inch gaming laptop, measuring 17% thinner and 22% lighter than its closest competitor. To fully optimize the keyboard, the GT80 Titan features an enhanced SteelSeries Engine with CloudSync, allowing users to save and synchronize settings via SteelSeries cloud storage.

Source: MSI

New 13-Inch Windows 8.1 Tablet Rounds Out Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 2 Lineup

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2014 - 09:08 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, Windows 8.1, Lenovo, Bay Trail, atom z3745, atom

Lenovo made a new 13-inch Windows 8.1 tablet official today rounding out the company's Yoga Tablet 2 family. The aptly named Yoga Tablet 2 With Windows (13") combines the design and hardware features of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro with the smaller 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Android or Windows) siblings. This tablet lacks the Pico projector of the Pro model, but keeps the JBL audio hardware, QHD IPS display, and kickstand. It further adds a larger version of the Bluetooth AccuType keyboard seen on the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 Windows model. Aimed at productivity tasks, the Bay Trail-powered PC is equipped with additional memory and storage along with an ample 12,800 mAh battery rated at up to 15 hours of general usage (including video/audio playback and web browsing). It will be available for purchase next month for $699.

Convertible Tablet_Yoga Tablet 2 Pro_13_W_Bluetooth keyboard_01.jpg

The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 13-Inch is a 2.27 pound (tablet only) PC featuring a 2560x1440 IPS display, JBL audio with a Wolfson Master Hi-Fi codec (two front facing 1.5W stereo speakers with a rear firing 5W subwoofer), 1.6MP webcam for video conferencing, and a bundled AccuType keyboard cover. External IO includes one micro HDMI video output, one micro USB port, and micro SD card slot, and an analog audio jack. The tablet and keyboard are all ebony black which sets it apart from the other mostly silver-clad Yoga Tablet 2s.

Internally, Lenovo has chosen the quad core Intel Atom (Bay Trail) Z3745 clocked at 1.86GHz, 4GB of LPDDR3 memory, and 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded upon by adding a micro SD card up to 64GB. There is no cellular data support, but the tablet does include dual band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. A large 12,800 mAh Lithium Polymer battery powers the tablet for up to 15 hours, according to Lenovo.

Convertible Tablet_Yoga Tablet 2 Pro_13_W_Bluetooth keyboard_02.jpg

The tablet runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and comes with a one month trail of Office 365 (which recently started offering 'unlimited' cloud storage).

It will be available for purchase in November on Lenovo.com for $699.

I like the black design and the inclusion of a keyboard along with the usage of Windows 8.1 makes this a better choice for business users than the Android-running Yoga Tablet 2 Pro model. The specifications look pretty good for what it is, though I question how many Lenovo will sell at that price point. You can find older generation convertible tablets, even from Lenovo, running the faster Intel Core (Ivy Bridge and similar) chips in that price range not to mention regular laptops should you not need the hybrid/tablet nature. It is kind of in an odd middle ground between the budget Bay Trail devices and starter ultrabooks though the high resolution IPS display and audio do not hurt.

Do you think it has a place in the market and will you be picking one up?

*For reference, the 13" Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has an MSRP of $499 while the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Windows, with keyboard) has an MSRP of $399. The $200 or $300 premium (depending on the comparison) gets you (at least) a device with more memory and storage and potentially an added keyboard or a larger device.

Source: Lenovo

ARM Announces Mali-T800 Series of Mobile GPUs

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 29, 2014 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: arm, mali-T800, mali

While some mobile SoC manufacturers have created their own graphics architectures, others license from ARM (and some even have a mixture of each within their product stack). There does not seem to be a specific push with this generation, rather just increases in the areas that make the most sense. Some comments tout increased energy efficiency, others higher performance, and even API support got a boost to OpenGL ES 3.1, which brings compute shaders to mobile graphics applications (without invoking OpenCL, etc.).

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Three models are in the Mali-T800 series: the T820, the T830, and the T860. As you climb in the list, the products go from entry level to high-performance mobile. GPUs are often designed in modularized segments, which ARM calls cores. You see this frequently in desktop, discrete graphics cards where an entire product stack contains a handful of actual designs, but products are made by disabling whole modules. The T820 and T830 can scale between one to four "core" modules, each core containing four actual "shader cores", while the T860 can scale between one to sixteen "core" modules, each core with 16 "shader cores". Again "core modules" are groups that contain actual shader processors (and L2 cache, etc.). Cores in cores.

This is probably why NVIDIA calls them "Streaming Multiprocessors" that contain "CUDA Cores".

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ARM does not (yet) provide an actual GFLOP rating for these processors, and it is up to manufacturers to some extent. It is normally a matter of multiplying the clock frequency by the number of ops per cycle and by the number of shader units available. I tried, but I assume my assumption of instructions per clock was off because the number I was getting did not match with known values from previous generations, so I assumed that I made a mistake. Also, again, ARM considers their performance figures to be conservative. Manufacturers should have no problem exceeding these, effortlessly.

As for a release timeline? Because these architectures are designed for manufacturers to implement, you should start seeing them within devices hitting retail in late 2015, early 2016.

Source: ARM

Fancy a look at the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro?

Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2014 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 970M, GS70 Stealth Pro, gaming laptop

Hardware Heaven just put up a quick overview of the new MSI GS70 Stealth Pro with the GTX 970M, i7-4710HQ, 16GB of DDR3-1600, a pair of Toshiba m.2 SSDs in RAID0 and a 1TB HDD.  The screen is 17.3" at 1920×1080 and for those using this as a desktop replacement the HDMI and two mini-DisplayPort connections will allow 4K or triple display setups.  It is less than 2cm thick but thanks to the all metal design it should not bend as much as certain other recently released mobile devices.  The benchmarks of a variety of games showed the i7-4710HQ to perform similarly to the i7-4800MQ but the real star was the 970M; check it out here.

To really delve deep into this new mobile GPU check out Ryan's review.

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"Last week NVIDIA launched their latest mobile GPU, based on their Maxwell architecture which powers the likes of their high end GTX 980. Today in our MSI GS70 Stealth Pro Review (GS70 2QE) we take a look at a laptop which uses the new GTX 970M in games such as Alien Isolation and The Enemy Within."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Google Nexus 9 Powered by NVIDIA Tegra K1, Denver 64-bit SoC

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, nvidia, nexus 9, Nexus, google, Denver

Along with the announcement of the Google Nexus 6 phone, Google is also announcing a new tablet, the Nexus 9. Sporting an 8.9-in IPS screen with a 2048x1536 resolution (4:3 standing strong!), a 6700 mAh battery as well as the new Android Lollipop operating system, perhaps the most interesting specification is that it is built around NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC. Specifically, the 64-bit version based on the dual-core custom built Denver design, marking that architectures first release in shipping product.

UPDATE: Amazon.com has the Google Nexus 9 up for pre-order in both 16GB and 32GB capacities!

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Tegra K1 using 64-bit Denver cores are unique in that it marks the first time NVIDIA has not used off-the-shelf cores from ARM in it's SoC designs. We also know, based on Tim's news post on PC Perspective in August, that the architecture is using a 7-way superscalar design and actually runs a custom instruction set that gets translated to ARMv8 in real-time. 

A software layer and 128MB cache enhance the Dynamic Code Optimization technology by allowing the processor to examine and optimize the ARM code, convert it to the custom instruction set, and further cache the converted microcode of frequently used applications in a cache (which can be bypassed for infrequently processed code). Using the wider execution engine and Dynamic Code Optimization (which is transparent to ARM developers and does not require updated applications), NVIDIA touts the dual Denver core Tegra K1 as being at least as powerful as the quad and octo-core packing competition.

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It is great news for NVIDIA that Google is using this version of the Tegra K1 (can we please just get a different name for this version of the chip) as it indicates Google's commitment to the architecture in Android going forward, opening doors for the parts integration with even more devices with other hardware vendors moving forward. 

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More than likely built by HTC, the Nexus 9 will ship in three different colors (black, white and beige) and has a lot of callbacks to the Nexus 7, one of if not THE most popular Android tablet on the market. The tablet has front-facing speakers which should make it good for headphone-free media consumption when necessary. You'll be able put the Nexus 9 into a working mode easily with a new magnetically attached keyboard dock, similar to the iPad accessories widely available.

The Nexus 9 weighs in at 425g (the iPad Air weighs 478g), will have 16GB and 32GB capacity options, going up for preorder on 10/17 and shipping by 11/03. Google will sell both a 32GB Wi-Fi and 32GB LTE model with the LTE version (as well as the Sand color) shipping "later this year." Pricing is set at $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 32GB+LTE version. That is quite a price hike for LTE capability and the $80 gap between the 16GB and 32GB options is annoying as well.

 Screen  8.9" IPS LCD TFT 4:3 aspect ratio QXGA (2048x1536) 
 Size  153.68 mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm  
 Weight  WiFi: 14.99 ounces (425g) LTE: 15.38 ounces (436g) 
 Camera  Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 29.2mm focal length (35mm equiv), Auto-focus, LED flash Front Camera: 1.6MP, f/2.4, 26.1mm focal length (35mm equiv), Fixed-focus, no flash 
 Audio  Front-facing stereo speakers, complete with HTC’s BoomSound™ technology
 Memory  16, 32 GB eMMC 4.51 storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)  
 CPU  NVIDIA Tegra K1 - 64 bit; Dual Denver CPUs @ 2.3 GHz 
 GPU  Kepler 192-core GPU 
 RAM  2GB LPDDR3
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network  Quad-band GSM, CDMA, Penta-band HSPA, 4G LTE
 Power**  6700 mAh Wifi Browsing: Up to 9.5 hours LTE Browsing: Up to 8.5 hours Video Playback: Up to 9.5 hours Wifi Standby: Up to 30 days LTE Standby: Up to 30 days
 Sensors  GNSS support for GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou Bosch gyroscope and accelerometer AKM magnetometer & hall effect sensor Capella ambient light sensor
 Ports & Connectors  Single micro-USB 2.0 for USB data/charging 3.5mm audio jack Dual front-facing speakers Dual microphones, top/bottom 
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Google Nexus 6 Phone / Phablet with 6-in 2560x1440 Screen, Android Lollipop

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 805, qualcomm, nexus 6, motorola, lollipop, android l, Android

The Android mobile market just got shifted again after three key announcements from Google today to refresh the Nexus family of products that have served as the flagships for Android devices for several years.

First up is the Nexus 6, a phone or phablet depending on your vocabulary preferences, a device with a 5.96-in screen with a resolution of 2560x1440 and a pixel density of 493 ppi. Built by Motorola and sharing a lot of physical design with the recently released Moto X update, the phone is sleek and attractive and will ship in both black and white color schemes.

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Other specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processors running at up to 2.7 GHz and an Adreno 420 graphics core. Capacities of both 32GB and 64GB will be available.

The Nexus 6 and its 6-in screen makes it larger than the Galaxy Note 4, larger than the iPhone 6 Plus and basically anything else considered a "phone" on the market today. The resolution of the phone is also much higher than the iPhone 6 Plus (only 1920x1080) and this should give Google's flagship a big advantage in clarity and media consumption - as long as the new Android Lollipop lives up to its claims. 

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Camera features are updated as well to include an f2.0 lens with optical image stabilization and a 13MP resolution. Fast charging is becoming particularly important in modern phones and Google claims the Nexus 6 will be able to get 6 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging and more than 24 hours use from a full charge. We'll see how that pans out of course.

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Google says that the Nexus 6 will ship in November with a pre-order in "late October". Expect an unlocked version on Google's Play Store while you can find on-contract versions at ALL US carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and even Verizon. On a side note, this marks the first time Verizon will carry a Nexus-branded phone since the Galaxy Nexus in December of 2011.

Be prepared to pay full price for this phone though. Google lists pricing for the 32GB model at $649 and for the 64GB model at $699.

Screen  5.96" 1440x2560 display (493 ppi) 16:9 aspect ratio
 Size  82.98mm x 159.26mm x 10.06mm
 Weight  6.49 ounces (184 grams)
 Camera  Rear Camera: 13MP, Dual LED ring flash Front Camera: 2MP @ 1.4 um pixel
 Audio  Stereo front facing speakers; 3.5mm headphone jack with 4 button headset compatibility 
 Memory  32GB, 64GB
 CPU  Qualcomm Snapdragon805 - Quad Core 2.7 GHz  
 GPU  Adreno 420
 RAM  3GB RAM
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network (+ Mobile Sku)  Americas SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10 WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8 LTE: Bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41 CA DL: Bands: B2-B13, B2-B17, B2-29, B4-B5, B4-B13, B4-B17, B4-B29 Rest of World SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: not supported WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/9/19 LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/9/19/20/28/41 CA DL: B3-B5, B3-B8
 Power**  3220 mAh Talk time: up to 24 hours  Standby time up to 300 hours Internet use time up to 8.5 hrs Wi-Fi, 7 hrs LTE Wireless charging built-in 
Turbo charger gives up to 6 hours of power in 1 minutes
 Sensors  Accelerometer, Gyro, Magnetometer, Prox, Ambient Light Sensor, Haptics, Hall effect, Barometer 
 Ports & Connectors  Micro USB Single nano SIM Power and Volume key on Right Hand Side of the device 3.5mm audio jack
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Lenovo's New Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Packs In QHD Display, Pico Projector, and 8W JBL Audio

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 10, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, tablet, qhd, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, ips display, intel atom, business

Yesterday, Lenovo revealed a barrage of products at an event in London including two new convertible laptops and new 8-inch and 10-inch tablets running Windows and Android. The final bit of new hardware to round out the new tablet lineup is the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro which is a larger version of the Yoga Tablet 2 with several tweaks specifically aimed at media consumption with focus on high quality audio and video.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector and Improved Kickstand.jpg

The new tablet is a 13-inch tablet weighing 2.09 pounds and is 0.1-0.5” thick. Available in silver, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro shares a similar form factor with its smaller siblings including a 180-degree rotating kickstand with a cutout to allow hanging on a wall or the back of an airplane seat. The Pro model further adds a button on the side that pops out the kickstand which is not present on the non-Pro models.

The device is dominated by a large 13.3” QHD 2560x1440 IPS multi-touch display. The JBL audio is improved on the Pro model and includes two 1.5W front facing stereo speakers in addition to a rear 5W subwoofer. A 1.6MP webcam and 8MP rear camera with auto focus remains consistent with the Tablet 2 tablets. Lenovo has added a Pico projector exclusive to the Tablet 2 Pro that is capable of displaying a WVGA (854x480) resolution image up to 50” at between 40-50 lumens. External I/O includes a micro USB (OTG capable) port, 3.5mm audio jack, and one micro SD card slot.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3745 clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (expandable by up to a 64GB micro SD card). Wireless radios include dual band 802.11 b/g/n and optional 4G (WCDMA 900/2100) which will not be available in the US. According to Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a battery life of up to 15 hours.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector.jpg

Curiously, the tablet is running Android 4.4 KitKat rather than Windows 8.1. As such, this is a high end tablet that likely will appeal to consumers wanting a quality media consumption device despite the exclusive (to the Pro) hardware bits that would otherwise appeal to business professionals wanting to create and deliver presentations (which was my first thought when seeing the hardware specifications). With that said, the display and audio are sure to please media enthusiasts. I have reached out to Lenovo for comment on the absence of Bluetooth support (mainly regarding keyboard support) in the documentation and will update the article if I receive a response.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will be available soon with an MSRP of $499. For comparison, the 10-inch Tablet 2 Android has an MSRP of $299. The $200 premium gets up a larger (and higher resolution) display, better potential audio, a projector, and a bit more internal storage space albeit at the cost of slightly shorter battery life.

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo Launches Atom-Powered Yoga Tablet 2 Tablets Running Android or Windows

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, Lenovo, atom, Android

Back in January, Ryan got his hands on Lenovo's 8-inch and 10-inch Yoga tablets. The tablets ran Android OS, had good battery life, and featured a unique design that included a tube and kickstand. Despite less-than-stellar performance, Ryan came away with positive impressions thanks to the comfortable form factor and long battery life.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2.jpg
 

That was almost a year ago. Today, Lenovo unveiled updated Yoga tablets that address the pitfalls of the previous models while keeping the unique ergonomic form factor. The Yoga Tablet 2, like its predecessor, comes in 8-inch and 10-inch models and will run Android or Windows 8.1 operating systems, depending on the specific SKU. The Yoga Tablet 2 features upgrades to full resolution displays, Intel Atom Z3745 processors (the previous models used a quad core MediaTek Cortex-A7), and an improved 180-degree hinge. The Android versions come in silver while the Windows 8.1 tablets are ebony black. The table below lists the dimensions and weight of the various models.

  8" Android 10" Android 8" Windows 10" Windows
Dimensions 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3" 8.3"x5.9"x0.1-0.3" 10"x7.2"x0.1-0.3"
Weight 0.92 pounds 1.36 pounds 0.94 pounds 1.39 pounds

The Yoga Tablet 2 systems have the same general design as the previous models including one tubular side that holds a large battery, front facing stereo speakers, a power button, and an audio jack. One difference is in the kickstand, which can now be rotated 180-degrees and has a cutout that allows it to be hung on a wall or the back of an airplane seat (for example). Further, the Yoga Tablet 2 (8" and 10" alike) features an 8-inch or 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 1.6MP webcam, and a 8MP rear camera with auto focus and an improved BSI 2 (backside illumination) sensor.

Internal specifications are a huge improvement over the previous models including an Intel Atom Z3745 SoC (quad core clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache), 2GB LP-DDR3L memory, and internal flash storage. The Android models come with 16GB of internal storage while the Windows versions come with 32GB internal storage. In both cases, uses can use a micro SD card up to 64GB to expand upon the internal storage. Other features include dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G (not available in the US), and a battery life of up to 18 hours.

The Android-powered version ships with Android 4.4 KitKat while the Windows version ships with Microsoft Windows 8.1 and one year of Office 365. The Windows version is able to take advantage of Intel Burst technology to allow monitoring of usage and overclocking to improve time to idle and reduced processing time at full load to improve battery life and balance performance.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Windows With Keyboard.jpg

The 10-inch Windows version comes bundled with a Bluetooth Accutype keyboard cover that can also be purchased separately for the 10-inch Android tablet.

Lenovo looks to have a winner on its hands with its updated Yoga Tablet 2 tablets, and I'm interested to see reviewers put them through their paces. On the Android side, the 8-inch Yoga Tablet 2 has a MSRP of $249 and the 10-inch model has a MSRP of $299. The Windows model starts at $299 for the 8-inch model and $399 for the 10-inch model with bundled keyboard. According to Lenovo these are the launch prices and rebates may be available in the future.

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo Introduces New Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 Tablet PCs

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, windows, Thinkpad, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, haswell, Broadwell

At a press event in London (watch the livestream), Lenovo showed off two new convertible PCs – the Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 – aimed at the consumer and business markets respectively that each incorporate evolutionary improvements over their predecessors. The Windows 8.1 PCs will be available at the end of October.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 Tablet PC.png

The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is the company's new flagship multi-mode system, and features build quality and internal processing power enhancements over the Yoga 2 Pro while being 17% thinner (0.5") and 14% lighter (2.62 lbs). Lenovo attributes the size and weight reductions to its new watchband hinge which is uses 800 pieces of aluminum and steel to achieve a thin yet flexible hinge with six focus points that resembles a metal watchband. Additionally, Lenovo has updated the display to a 13.3" multi-touch panel with (QHD+) 3200x1800 resolution. Other external features include JBL stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 and DC-input port, one micro HDMI output, and one audio combo jack.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Watchband Hinge.jpg

Lenovo's new hand-constructed watchband-style hinge with six focus points.

Internally, Lenovo is using the Intel Core M-70 (Broadwell) processor, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life, depending on usage. The PC will be available in Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, or Champagne Gold.

Lenovo also announced the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14. While it does not have the kinds of form factor and hinge design improvements as the Yoga 3 Pro, it does maintain the useful Lift 'n Lock keyboard and feature welcome internal upgrades. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 measures 13.3" x 9.4" x 0.82" and weighs 4.1 pounds. The magnesium alloy frame holds a 14" 1920x1080 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch, a 720p webcam, dual microphones with noise cancelation, stereo speakers, a backlit Lift 'n Lock keyboard (which, when in tablet mode, raises the frame flush with the keys which lock in place), full keyboard, trackpad, and trackpoint nub.

RS4597_ThinkPad Yoga 14 Standard_03-hpr.jpg

This PC is noticeably bulkier and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, but it trades bulk for processing power, storage, and external I/O. Externally, the PC has one full HDMI video out (which is preferable to having to remember a micro HDMI adapter on the road or to meetings), two USB 3.0 ports, one combo USB 2.0/DC power/OneLink docking connector, one SD card slot, and one audio combo jack. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 is powered by an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, NVIDIA GeForce 840M GPU, either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory, and 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB flash for caching purposes. It comes with Windows 8.1 and "all day" battery life of up to eight hours.

In all, it has some useful updates over last year's model which we reviewed here.

Pricing and Availability:

The Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 will be available at the end of October from Lenovo.com or Best Buy. The Yoga 3 Pro has an MSRP of $1,349 while the ThinkPad Yoga 14 starts at $1,149.

Both systems continue the Yoga family forward, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Broadwell-powered Yoga 3 Pro performs in particular. I do wish the Lift 'n Lock keyboard technology had trickled down to the consumer models even understanding it would add additional weight and thickness. Obviously, Lenovo felt the tradeoff was not worth it though.

Source: Lenovo

MSI Revamps Armory of Gaming Laptops with Latest NVIDIA GTX 970M & 980M Graphics

Subject: Mobile | October 7, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, maxwell, GTX 980M, GTX 970M, gt dominator, gs stealth, gs ghost

You've heard about NVIDIA's new GTX900M Series and MSI has released two new families of gaming laptops which contain the new GPU.  The GS Stealth and Ghost series are the thinner, lighter more mobile of the laptops while the Dominator Series is more a desktop replacement and should also give you a good workout while you are carting them around.  The base model will run you $1600, with more expensive options available such as the limited edition Crimson Red Stealth Pro model at the end.  Before you ask, no the integral displays are not G-SYNC however since the mobile GPUs are based on Maxwell you may be able to output to a G-SYNC monitor with a variable refresh.  Stay tuned for more.

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City of Industry, Calif. – October 7, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the immediate availability of the critically acclaimed GS Stealth/Ghost Series and GT Dominator Series gaming laptops with NVIDIA’s latest GTX 900M Series graphics. Armed with unprecedented power and an array of cutting-edge features, including MSI’s new SHIFT technology, the new gaming notebooks deliver up to 28% more graphics performance for a mobile gaming experience without barriers.

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“MSI’s newest gaming laptops showcase breakthroughs in mobile gaming technology that improve graphics performance, increase gaming comfort, and transport gamers into an unbelievable gaming journey,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “NVIDIA’s GTX 900M Series GPU delivers mobile graphics that are up to par with desktop graphics card models and superior to anything we’ve ever seen.”

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SHIFT Your Speed
MSI’s newest gaming laptops feature their exclusive SHIFT power adjustment technology that enables easy tweaking of CPU and GPU performance to best suit the gamers’ needs. SHIFT comes with three proprietary modes: Sport to maximize CPU and GPU usage for extreme performance, Comfort for a smooth and balanced ride, and Green, which enables the lowest power consumption of both CPU and GPU while maintaining the coolest constant temperatures for both.

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Unprecedented Customization
MSI provides unprecedented customization in all NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M Series graphics equipped laptops via the Dragon Gaming Center and SteelSeries Engine. Gamers can SHIFT CPU and GPU usage through the Dragon Gaming Center as well as monitor system performance, temperature, network speed, power consumption, fan speed and more. The SteelSeries Engine gives gamers the ability to personalize playing style with over a billion customization options, program individual keys for unlimited configurations, determine key color and lighting patterns, save and share configurations, and learn gaming patterns with key usage statistics.

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Cutting Edge Components
All revamped gaming laptops come with 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, Killer E2200 Game Networking, Sound Blaster Cinema, Dynaudio Technology, XSplit Gamecaster, 4K HDMI Output, Matrix Display and NVIDIA Surround View. NVIDIA Surround is now supported on all next gen models, allowing gamers to immersive themselves in the ultimate gaming experience. Select models come with MSI’s Super RAID technology which supports up to 4x M.2 SATA SSD’s in RAID 0, ultra-high resolution 3K displays, and Killer DoubleShot Pro combining Killer E2200 Game Networking with Killer N1525 Wireless AC.

MSI’s latest update applies to the ultra-thin and light GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro models, and the potent GT72 Dominator, GT70 Dominator and GT60 Dominator gaming laptops. All GS and GT gaming laptops equipped with NVIDIA’s GTX 900M graphics are available now starting at $1,599.99.

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In addition, MSI is launching a special edition GS70 Stealth Pro in Crimson Red, catering to the demands of gamers who want more choices in color and style. The GS70 Stealth Pro Crimson Red edition will be available through online retailers with next gen graphics.

Source: MSI

New Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Features Cameras and Optional Keyboard

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 4, 2014 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged:

Amazon launched a bevy of new tablets and eReaders late last month. An updated Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 will be available October 21st and replaces last year’s model as the flagship Kindle tablet.

Measuring 8.9” and weighing 13.2 ounces (13.7oz for the 4G model), the upcoming HDX 8.9” tablet retains the same form factor as its predecessor. The mobile device does pack in internal hardware improvements, updated software features, and an optional bluetooth Fire Keyboard accessory. The tablet features an 8.9” 2560x1600 (339 PPI) display, Dobly Atmos audio, an 8MP rear camera, and a 720p front-facing webcam. Amazon is using what it calls “Dynamic Light Control” which alters the display’s color temperature to match ambient light along with a dynamic backlighting.

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With that said, the major changes between the previous model and the new Fire HDX 8.9 lie in updated internal hardware and Amazon’s latest operating system and UI features. Specifically, Amazon has upgraded to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC and a faster (802.11ac) Wi-Fi radio. Last year’s tablet used the Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU. The new HDX 8.9’s Snapdragon 805 is clocked at 2.5GHz and features an Adreno 420 GPU. Both tablets feature 2GB RAM and 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB internal storage options. Amazon claims up to 12 hours of battery life when reading, browsing the web, and watching videos.

The new tablet with ship with Amazon’s latest Fire OS operating system known as Fire OS 4.0 “Sangria.” Sangria is a custom fork of Android 4.4 KitKat that features Amazon’s custom user interface in addition to ASAP predictive pre-loading, Smart Suspend technology, Family Library media sharing, device profiles, and Mayday help/support.

The Fire Keyboard is a 7oz, 4.8mm thin Bluetooth keyboard that can attach magnetically to the optional Origami tablet case. The keyboard features 74 keys (including shortcut and search keys), a small trackpad, Bluetooth 3.0, and a lithium ion battery that has a claimed battery life of two months of active usage. It has an MSRP of $59.99 and will begin shipping October 21.The Origami case is another optional accessory that can hold and protect both the keyboard and tablet. It will be available in black, blue, and red leather for $69.99 from Amazon.

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The new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is up for pre-order now but will officially be available on October 21st. Pricing and SKU data is listed in the table below. Needless to say, this is an overall minor upgrade over last year's model and it is not something existing HDX 8.9" users are likely excited about. However, on its own, the new model has decent specifications and if you are looking into a new Kindle Fire tablet, it is worth considering, especially if you plan to take advantage of the faster processor for activities such as gaming in addition to reading books and watching movies.

Pricing Information for Amazon's New Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablet

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Will you be picking up the latest Fire OS flagship?

Source: Amazon

KickStarter: MatchStick Is Chromecast-like with Firefox OS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast

When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.

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I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?

In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.

Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.

Source: Kickstarter

HP Releases Cheaaaaaap PCs and Windows Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 30, 2014 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer

Before I get into the devices, the $149 HP Stream 8 tablet and certain models of the HP Stream 13 laptop (the ones with an optional 4G modem) includes "free 4G for life" for customers in the USA. Reading in the fine print, the device company apparently signed a deal with T-Mobile for 200MB/mo of 4G service. Of course, 200MB will barely cover the Windows Update regimen of certain months, but you have WiFi for that. It is free, and free is good. I can guess that T-Mobile is crossing their fingers that dripping a drop of water on the tongues of the thirsty will convince them to go to the fountain.

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If it works? Great. That is just about the most honest way that I have ever seen a telecom company attract new customers.

Back to these devices. Oh right, they're cheap. They are so cheap, they barely have any technical specifications. The $199.99 HP Stream 11 laptop has an 11-inch display. The $229.99 HP Stream 13 laptop has a 13-inch display and can be configured with an optional 4G modem. Both are passively cooled (more fanless PCs...) and run on a dual-core processor. Both provide a year of Office 365 Personal subscriptions. Both are available in blueish-purple or pinkish-purple.

The two tablets (7-inch Stream 7 and 8-inch Stream 8) are a similar story. They run an x86 processor with full Windows 8.1 and a year's subscription to Office 365. Somehow, the tablets are based on Intel quad-core CPUs (rather than the laptop's passively cooled dual-cores) despite being cheaper. Then again, they could be completely different architectures.

While HP is interested in, you know, selling product, I expect that Microsoft's generous licensing terms (see also the Toshiba alternative we reported earlier) is an attempt to push their cloud services. They know that cheaper device categories cannot bare as much royalties as a fully-featured laptop, and not having a presence at those prices is conceding it to Google -- and conceding that to Google is really giving up on cloud services for those customers. The simple solution? Don't forfeit those markets, just monetize with your own cloud service. I doubt that it will harm their higher-end devices.

The four devices (Stream 7 - $99, Stream 8 -$149, Stream 11 - $199, Stream 13 - $229) are coming soon.

Source: HP

Apple A8 Die Shot Released (and Debated)

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | September 29, 2014 - 01:53 AM |
Tagged: apple, a8, a7, Imagination Technologies, PowerVR

First, Chipworks released a dieshot of the new Apple A8 SoC (stored at archive.org). It is based on the 20nm fabrication process from TSMC, which they allegedly bought the entire capacity for. From there, a bit of a debate arose regarding what each group of transistors represented. All sources claim that it is based around a dual-core CPU, but the GPU is a bit polarizing.

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Image Credit: Chipworks via Ars Technica

Most sources, including Chipworks, Ars Technica, Anandtech, and so forth believe that it is a quad-core graphics processor from Imagination Technologies. Specifically, they expect that it is the GX6450 from the PowerVR Series 6XT. This is a narrow upgrade over the G6430 found in the Apple A7 processor, which is in line with the initial benchmarks that we saw (and not in line with the 50% GPU performance increase that Apple claims). For programmability, the GX6450 is equivalent to a DirectX 10-level feature set, unless it was extended by Apple, which I doubt.

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Image Source: DailyTech

DailyTech has their own theory, suggesting that it is a GX6650 that is horizontally-aligned. From my observation, their "Cluster 2" and "Cluster 5" do not look identical at all to the other four, so I doubt their claims. I expect that they heard Apple's 50% claims, expected six GPU cores as the rumors originally indicated, and saw cores that were not there.

Which brings us back to the question of, "So what is the 50% increase in performance that Apple claims?" Unless they had a significant increase in clock rate, I still wonder if Apple is claiming that their increase in graphics performance will come from the Metal API even though it is not exclusive to new hardware.

But from everything we saw so far, it is just a handful of percent better.

Intel Expands x86 SoC Program to Tsinghua Unigroup

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: Intel, spreadtrum, rda, Rockchip, SoC

A few months ago, Intel partnered with Rockchip to develop low-cost SoCs for Android. The companies would work together on a design that could be fabricated at TSMC. This time Intel is partnering with Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. and, unlike Rockchip, also investing in them. The deal will be up to $1.5 billion USD in exchange for a 20% share (approximately) of a division of Tsinghua.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

Intel is hoping to use this partnership to develop mobile SoCs, for smart (and "feature") phones, tablets, and other devices, and get significant presence in the Chinese mobile market. Tsinghua acquired Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics within the last two years. The "holding group" that owns these division is apparently the part of Tsinghua which Intel is investing in, specifically.

Spreadtrum will produce SoCs based on Intel's "Intel Architecture". This sounds like they are referring to the 32-bit IA-32, which means that Spreadtrum would be developing 32-bit SoCs, but it is possible that they could be talking about Intel 64. These products are expected for 2H'15.

Source: Intel

HTC Making the Google Nexus 9 with NVIDIA Tegra K1?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2014 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, google, nexus 9, nvidia, tegra k1

The Nexus line is due for an update, with each product being released for at least a year. They are devices which embody Google's vision... for their own platform. You can fall on either side of that debate, whether it guides OEM partners or if it is simply a shard the fragmentation issue, if you even believe that fragmentation is bad, but they are easy to recommend and a good benchmark for Android.

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We are expecting a few new entries in the coming months, one of which being the Nexus 9. Of note, it is expected to mark the return of HTC to the Nexus brand. They were the launch partner with the Nexus One and then promptly exited stage left as LG, Samsung, and ASUS performed the main acts.

We found this out because NVIDIA spilled the beans on their lawsuit filing against Qualcomm and Samsung. Apparently, "the HTC Nexus 9, expected in the third quarter of 2014, is also expected to use the Tegra K1". It has since been revised to remove the reference. While the K1 has a significant GPU to back it up, it will likely be driving a very high resolution display. The Nexus 6 is expected to launch at around the same time, along with Android 5.0 itself, and the 5.2-inch phone is rumored to have a 1440p display. It seems unlikely that a larger, tablet display will be lower resolution than the phone it launches alongside -- and there's not much room above it.

The Google Nexus 9 is expected for "Q3".

Source: The Verge

Upward mobility for both Linux and Windows

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 18, 2014 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, microsoft, Feedhenry

Red Hat just acquired Feedhenry for around €63.5 million to enhance their ability to support mobile apps.  Feedhenry designs mobile apps on both the client and server side which run on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, QNX and HTML5 as well as integration with apps from companies such as Salesforce, SAP and Oracle.  This purchase could help Red Hat become an attractive alternative for companies wishing to serve apps across all platforms and increased usage of Openshift and Openstack.  The Inquirer also posted news on a extension to the price discount on Microsoft's licensing for mobile developers.  They are still offering lifetime accounts for Dev Center for $19.99 for individuals and $99.99 for businesses, which compares favourably to the one time Android fee of $25 and even better against Apple's $99 per year.  If they could just get their phones to play nicely with O365 this could well increase their market share for mobile phones.

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"RED HAT HAS ACQUIRED Feedhenry, a designer of mobile apps for the enterprise market. The company sees the acquisition as a key driver to offer cross-platform support for its existing software products, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Openstack 7, which it released earlier this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft's Universal Mobile Keyboard Is Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: windows, mobile, microsoft, keyboard, ios, Android

Let me share a story. There was a time, around the first Surface launch, that I worked in an electronics retail store (and the several years prior -- but I digress). At around that time, Microsoft was airing ads with people dancing around, clicking keyboards to the Surface tablet with its magnetic click or snap. One day, a customer came in looking for the keyboard from the TV spots for their iPad. I thought about it for a few seconds and realized how terrible Microsoft's branding actually was.

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Without already knowing the existence of their Windows 8 and RT tablets, which the ads were supposed to convey, it really did look like an accessory for an iPad.

Doing Microsoft's job for them, I explained the Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets along with its keyboard-cover accessories. Eventually, I told them that it was a Microsoft product for their own tablet brand and would not see an iPad release. The company felt threatened by these mobile, touch devices and was directly competing with them.

...

So Microsoft is announcing a keyboard for Windows, Android, and iOS. Sure, it is very different from the Type and Touch Covers; for instance, it does not attach to these devices magnetically. Microsoft has also been known to develop hardware, software, and services for competing platforms. While it is not unsurprising that Microsoft keyboards would work on competing devices, it does feel weird for their keyboard to have features that are specialized for these competing platforms.

There are three things interesting about this keyboard: it has a built-in stand, it has special keys for Android and iOS that are not present in Windows, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 months. The peripheral pairs wirelessly with all of these devices through Bluetooth.

The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is coming soon for $79.95 (MSRP).

Source: Microsoft

Android One sub-$100 Phones for Overseas Announced

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 17, 2014 - 05:03 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Google