Qualcomm works out their ARMs and not their core?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm

MediaTek, do you even lift?

According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.

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Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.

So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.

The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.

And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.

We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.

Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.

Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.

Your thoughts?

Source: IT World

Which came first, phone or tablet? The ASUS 7" Phonepad

Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2013 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: phablet, asus, Fonepad

Running Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, the ASUS Phonepad has a 7" 1280 x 800 display and an Atom Z2420 or Z2460 processor paired with a PowerVR STX 540 for the GPU.  While built in 3MP camera certainly makes this more like a phone Hardware Secrets found it uncomfortable to use as such but for short calls and random browsing they liked the performance and were impressed that for their usage it would only need to be charged every other day.  Due to the size and the lack of support for 4G connections Hardware Secrets recommends that this device be treated as a tablet which happens to be able to make phone calls as opposed to being a phone replacement.

HS_Phablet.jpg

"Is the ASUS Fonepad a 7" tablet with cell phone functions or a cell phone with a 7" screen? Let's try to answer this question in this review."

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Mobile

Google Rolls Out Updated Nexus 7 With Android 4.3 And Better Hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon S4 Pro, qualcomm, nexus 7, google, asus, android 4.3

Google recently launched an updated version of its Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet. The existing Nexus 7 will be discontinued and replaced by three new Nexus 7 SKUs. The updated tablets are slightly thinner and lighter, come with improved hardware specifications, and will come with Google’s latest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” operating system.

The updated Nexus 7 features a 7” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which works out to 323 pixels per inch (PPI) and front-facing HD webcam on the front of the device. The back of the tablet hosts a 5MP camera and a smooth soft touch cover. A micro USB port is located on the bottom edge. Google has added stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the tablet.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

Internal specifications include a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the specific SKU. There is no SD card slot on the Nexus 7, unfortunately. Additionally, the Nexus 7 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and Qi wireless charging. Google will have both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the latter coming with 32GB of internal storage and a 4G LTE cellular radio compatible with all the major US carriers.

The chart below compares the specifications of the original Nexus 7 to the updated Nexus 7 tablet.

  New Nexus 7 Original Nexus 7
Display 1920 x 1200 1280 x 800
Height 7.9" 7.81"
Depth/thickness 0.3" 0.41"
Weight 11.2 oz 12 oz
Processor Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)
RAM 2GB 1GB
Internal Storage Options 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB
Wireless Radio Options Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), BT, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), BT, and 3G/HSPA+21
OS Android 4.3 Android 4.1
Starting MSRP $229 (16GB) $249 (16GB)

Google has continued its partnership with Asus and worked with the hardware company to develop the updated Nexus 7 tablets.

The Nexus 7 will be available in the US starting on July 30. It will be rolled out to other countries over the next few weeks including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea, and Spain among others.

The 16GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $229 while the 32GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $269. Finally, the Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE modem will cost $349.

In all, I think Google has another winner on its hands with the updated Nexus 7.
 

Source: Google

Unreal Engine 4 on Mobile Kepler at SIGGRAPH

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 24, 2013 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: Siggraph, kepler, mobile, tegra, nvidia, unreal engine 4

SIGGRAPH 2013 is wrapping up in the next couple of days but, now that NVIDIA removed the veil surrounding Mobile Kepler, people are chatting about what is to follow Tegra 4. Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, contributed to NVIDIA Blogs the number of ways that certain attendees can experience Unreal Engine 4 at the show. As it turns out, NVIDIA engineers have displayed the engine both on Mobile Kepler as well as behind closed doors on desktop PCs.

Not from SIGGRAPH, this is a leak from, I believe, GTC late last March.

Also, this is Battlefield 3, not Unreal Engine 4.

Tim, obviously taking the developer standpoint, is very excited about OpenGL 4.3 support within the mobile GPU. In all, he did not say too much of note. They are targeting Unreal Engine 4 at a broad range of platforms: mobile, desktop, console, and, while absent from this editorial, web standards. Each of these platforms are settling on the same set of features, albeit with huge gaps in performance, allowing developers to focus on a scale of performance instead of a flowchart of capabilities.

Unfortunately for us, there have yet to be leaks from the trade show. We will keep you up-to-date if we find any, however.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

Haswell to Reach 4.5W SDP in Limited Quantities

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 23, 2013 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: SDP, haswell

Intel has just lowered their lowered thermal expectations for Haswell if, of course, you use SDP as your metric. Scenario Design Point (SDP), as opposed to Thermal Design Power (TDP), describes how much heat dissipation is required for the product at some, usually underclocked, performance target. SDP does not need to affect burst performance, however, as the chip can still up-clock given some extra headroom.

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While we don't know OEM partners, Intel could be green, with HP Envy?

It describes long-term cooling requirements, not instantaneous power draws.

In terms of SDP, Intel expected to ship 6W products based on their 4th generation core architecture. Today, Intel announced a limited stock will dip below that target, capable of just 4.5W in waste heat. OEMs who purchase from this limited binning will be able to include Haswell in even thinner active or passively cooled designs.

Intel has not described exact specifications, partners, or shipping dates.

Source: Intel

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa Returns to ARM Mali GPUs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | July 23, 2013 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, mali, exynos

Exynos, the line of System on a Chip (SoC) products from Samsung, were notably absent of ARM Mali GPUs. This, apparently, struck concern over how viable Mali will continue to be and whether ARM will continue to lose designs to competitors such as Imagination Technologies.

ARM-Mali-T628.jpg

Then Samsung announced, Monday evening for us North Americans, the upcoming Exynos 5 Octa Processor will embed six ARM Mali-T628 GPU cores. The T628 GPU cores are capable of OpenCL 1.1 and OpenGL ES 3.0 standards which should allow applications to offload heavy batches of tasks, such as computational photography processing, with high efficiency and performance.

The Exynos 5 Octa contains four ARM Cortex-A15 cores at 1.8GHz, supported by four additional Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz. These processors are currently being sampled and should be produced in August.

Read on for the press blast from Samsung PR.

MSI GS70 Stealth Ultra Gaming Notebook

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 19, 2013 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: msi, gs70, gaming laptop

Laptops have been evolving towards thin, light, efficient, and powerful... enough for web browsing and that is about it. The internet is a popular thing, go figure, and many manufacturers are nervous about marketing a laptop or tablet which does much beyond that. Razer took a bit of a gamble with their Blade and Edge line of laptops and tablets, respectively, but they have since shown promise.

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Now MSI has not been a stranger to gaming laptops. While not as popular in North America, although they are gaining traction, they are experienced in this market. Perhaps bringing along Steelseries, a main competitor of Razer, might increase your chances? At the very least, you will probably have an epic keyboard.

The GS70 Stealth "ultra gaming notebook" combines an Intel 4th Generation Core i7 with an NVIDIA GTX 765M, up to 16GB of RAM, and a pair of SSDs into a 17.3" aluminum-magnesium alloy case. Also present, Creative Labs SoundBlaster Cinema audio and a Killer ethernet connection.

GS70_keyboard.jpg

The SteelSeries keyboard is backlit in whatever color you desire. Each button has been rearranged in a unique order that I have yet to see; some keys, such as numpad 0 and right shift, to crush the number pad in with the main keyboard which effectively provides many of the benefits of a tenkeyless design.

GS70_Monitor.jpg

A final note, albeit an important one, is their addition of multiple video outputs. Through "Matrix Display", three 1080p displays can be connected in addition to the built-in 1080p monitor. Certain users could set up a multi-monitor workstation at their desk for this laptop to dock into.

Check out MSI's press blast for more information -- except for the all important pricing and availability, those are currently unknown.

Source: MSI

Dell Refreshes XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook With Better Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 07:09 AM |
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, dell

Dell has announced that within the next few weeks, it will be unleashing a refreshed version of the XPS 12 convertible ultrabook (tablet/notebook). Although the base price will be increased by $100, the refreshed tablet features Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processor, a NFC radio, and a larger battery.

Specifically, Dell will be releasing at least three new XPS 12 SKUs. The lowest-end refreshed model includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This ultrabook/tablet SKU has an MSRP of $1,199 and is an update to the original base model with an MSRP of $1,099.

Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook.jpg

Dell's XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook (Tablet)

Beyond the starter version, users can upgrade the CPU and memory to an Intel Core i5-4500U and 8GB of DDR3 for $200 more ($1,399 MSRP).

Finally, users can take the $1,399 model and upgrade the storage to a 512GB solid state drive (SSD). This version of the XPS 12 has a MSRP of $1,999.

Dell claims that the updated ultrabook has up to 1.6-times the performance and 2.5 hours more battery life (8 hours, 43 minutes) thanks to the move to Haswell CPUs and a larger 50Wh battery respectively.  Of course, the original XPS 12 used Ivy Bridge CPUs and 47Wh batteries. The new models have started shipping and will be available for purchase around the end of July.

Source: Dell

Tegra 4-Powered ZTE Geek U988S Smartphone Headed For China Mobile

Subject: Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 04:40 AM |
Tagged: zte, tegra 4, td-scdma, smartphone, nvidia, china mobile

Details have leaked on a new ZTE smartphone called the Geek U988S thanks to China's TENNA certification database. The Geek is powered by NVIDIA’s latest-generation Tegra 4 SoC and is headed for Chinese wireless carrier China Mobile and its TD-SCDMA network.

ZTE Geek U988S Tegra 4 Smartphone.jpg

Along with leaked specifications, the TENNA site has photos of its upcoming smartphone. The pictured model has a pink colored chassis with a large 5-inch touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 2MP webcam sits above the display and the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera. The device measures 144 x 71 x 9mm.

Internal hardware includes a Tegra 4 SoC clocked at 1.8GHz and 2GB of RAM. The phone works on China’s TD-SCDMA network.

There is no word on pricing or availability, but photos and a specs list can be found here

Source: Engadget

An iPhone users look at the Galaxy S4

Subject: Mobile | July 11, 2013 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s4

The Tech Report's resident Apple fan stepped away from his iPhone to try out the hottest Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4.  He used them in parallel to be able to contrast their usability and while he loved the larger size of the S4 the TouchWiz was perhaps not his favourite part of the phone.  As an Apple user he was a little surprised by the setup required to personalize the phone to his preferences, which is understandable when iOS is the only phone OS he had really spend time with.  Take a peek at the article and maybe forward it on to a friend who would do well to read it.

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"Last year, TR's Cyril Kowaliski bought an iPhone 5. For the past three weeks, however, he's been using one of the finest Android handsets on the market: the Samsung Galaxy S4. Here's what he has learned."

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Mobile

New Ultrathin ThinkPad T440S Appears On Lenovo Website

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:40 AM |
Tagged: laptop, Lenovo, Thinkpad, haswell, Intel, windows 8

A new ultrathin laptop for business users has appeared on Lenovo’s website. Called the Lenovo ThinkPad T440S, it is an Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell"-powered machine running Windows 8.

The ThinkPad T440S features a magnesium and carbon fiber chassis that is 21mm thick. It has a full size, spill resistant, keyboard with multimedia function keys, a TrackPoint, and a multi-touch trackpad. The T440S has a 14” display with optional multi-touch and a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440S.jpg

This laptop will start at 3.5 pounds. It can be configured with two 3-cell batteries with one internal and one removable battery. In this configuration, users can swap out the removable battery for a spare without powering down the system (a technology Lenovo calls Power Bridge). Other features include a 720p webcam with dual noise canceling mics.

IO includes three USB 3.0 ports, one Mini DisplayPort and one VGA video output, and a SD card reader. The T440S also comes equipped with an NFC radio.

Unfortunately, additional specifications and pricing data is not yet listed on the Lenovo site. If you are a business user in need of a thin and light laptop, keep a lookout on this product page for more information as the laptop gets closer to release.

Source: Lenovo

More Details On Upcoming Nokia Lumia 1020 WP8 Smartphone With 41MP Camera Emerge Ahead of Release

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:01 AM |
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8, nokia lumia 1020, nokia, lumia 1020

Additional details have emerged concerning Nokia’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphone with 41MP camera: the Lumia 1020 “EOS.” Thanks to Windows Phone Central, several of the rumored specifications have been confirmed and new photos of the hardware are available.

According to the new information, the new smartphone is officially the Lumia 1020 and it will run the latest update of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.0 mobile operating system. It will be an AT&T exclusive in the United States and should be available around the end of June, at the earliest.

The smartphone features a polycarbonate body (like its other WP8 phones) that will come in yellow, white, or black. The front of the device is dominated by a 4.5” 720p AMOLED display. The rear of the phone sports the most interesting bit of hardware on this phone, which is the PureView camera.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone 8 Smartphone with OIS 41MP Camera.jpg

The camera features a 41MP sensor and Xenon and LED flashes. Other specifications include F2.2 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization. Nokia will be bundling a pre-installed Pro Camera app that will allow users to adjust ISO, white balance, manual focus, shutter speed, and flash usage.

The Lumia 1020 will take a 32MP and super-sampled (7:1) 5MP photo simultaneously at a 16:9 aspect ratio or a single 4:3 aspect ratio photo at 38MP. Unfortunately, video functionality has not been detailed.

Internal specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (rumor) SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (not expandable). Wireless technology includes an FM radio, NFC (Near Field Communication) radio, Wi-Fi, cellular (bands not specified yet), and an optional back cover that enables wireless charging. If the SoC is indeed the Snapdragon 800, that means four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at up to 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and a 4G LTE modem.

The new Nokia Lumia 1020 WP8 flagship is being shipped to various Microsoft stores on June 22nd, and is coming to AT&T at the end of June. The AT&T subsidized price with a 2 year contract has not been announced, but the off-contract price is allegedly $602.

Source: WPCentral

HTC Releases Q2 2013 Results, Better than Q1 But Still Down YoY

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: htc, financial results, Android

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has released financial results for its Q2 2013. All things considered, HTC had a good quarter, but it is still far from reaching the performance of the prior year.

HTC had quarterly revenue of approximately $2.35 billion (NT $70.7 billion), net income of $41.5 million (NT $1.25 billion), and Earnings Per Share (EPS) of $0.05 (NT $1.50).

HTC One Android Smartphone.jpg

The previous quarter (Q1'13) saw HTC achieve revenue of $1.42 billion (NT $42.8 billion), net profit of $2.82 million (NT $85 million), and EPS of $.003 (NT $0.10). The company's HTC One smartphone is likely a contributor to the improved performance QoQ.

Year over Year (YoY), HTC is still down quite a bit. In Q2 of 2012, HTC had revenue of $3.02 billion (NT $91.04 billion), net profit of $245.6 million (NT $7.4 billion), and EPS of $0.30 (NT $8.90). The following chart shows the figures in USD in a handy table.

  Q2 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2012
Revenue $2.35 Billion $1.42 Billion $3.02 Billion
Net Income $41.5 Million $2.82 Million $245.6 Million
Earnings Per Share $0.05 $0.003 $0.30

YoY, HTC's Q2 revenue is down about 22% while net profit and EPS are both down about 83% respectively. The recent financial report is not all bad news, however. HTC is recovering from its fall and saw a positive increase over the first quarter of 2013 with 65.5% higher quarterly revenue. Profit and EPS also saw a massive jump over the previous quarter. The HTC announcement did not include and outlook for investors, but the company is refocusing on quality hardware and had a positive quarter.

Source: HTC

Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

wii-lan.png

Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail

Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.

The Droid Guy compiled it with a few scores from competing, ARM, devices.

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Image Credit: The Droid Guy

The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.

Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.

If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.

I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.

Just Delivered: Samsung Galaxy Centura Android Smartphone (SCH-S738C)

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, sch-s738c, Samsung, just delivered, galaxy centura, android 4.0.4

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Find the Galaxy Centura on Amazon!

I recently decided to move away from AT&T and try out a Straight Talk plan on the recommendation of friends. Moving to Straight Talk also meant getting a new phone though, because when I went to Straight Talk last month AT&T compatible SIM cards were still not available.

Long story short, I ended up getting the Samsung Galaxy Centura smart phone and Straight Talk's $45/month no-contract offering, which is around half of what I was paying AT&T! The phone itself cost $100.

DSC01295.JPG

The Samsung Galaxy Centura is smartphone that operates on Verizon's network and runs Android 4.0.4. Not the latest and greatest Android, but Samsung has not "blessed" the phone with its TouchWiz UI and a nice step up from the Samsung Infuse 4G's Android 2.3 OS that Samsung never bothered updating further (heh).

The Samsung Galaxy Centura is model number SCH-S738C (GP). It measures 4.44" (H) x 2.4" (W) x 0.45" (D) and weighs 4.4 ounces. The front of the phone features a 3.5" 262K TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480. A small speaker grill and Tracfone logo sit at the top, while a Samsung logo and three capacitive buttons sit below the screen. The buttons are menu, home, and back. The front of the phone is black and surrounded by a glossy blue bezel that also matches the battery door.

DSC01284.JPG

The back of the phone has another Samsung logo, a speaker grill, and a 3MP camera capable of shooting 3MP stills and 640 x 480 video. The back of the phone comes off and doubles as the battery door. Samsung has put several clips along the edges to hold it in place, and may actually be a bit too secure as it can be hard to get the door off.

A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone, a power button is located on teh right side, and two volume buttons are located on the left edge. The bottom edge includes a micro-USB connector.

Internally, the Galaxy Centura features a Qualcomm MSM7625A SoC with a single core Snapdragon S1 processor (45nm, Cortex-A5) clocked at 800 Mhz, an Adreno 200 GPU, and a CDMA cellular radio. Additionally, the SoC is paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card under the battery door), and a decent 3.7V, 5.55 Wh, 1500 mAh battery. Other internal hardware includes an accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth radio, and Wi-Fi radio. I am not as familiar with CDMA as GSM, but the Centura operates on Verizon's equivalent to AT&T's 3G network for data and vocie (though not at the same time). It is currently connected to Verizon's EVDO Rev. A:8 network. As far as network data speed, the fastest results I have been able to get, as measured by speedtest.net, are 1,276 kbps down and 487 kbps up.

Samsung Galaxy Centura SCH-S738C.jpg

While it had no problems running Android games at decent frame rates, 3DMark mobile pushed it to its limits. It scored 536 in the Ice Storm benchmark and 281 in the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, for example. Unfortunately, this 3DMark app was not available when I had the Infuse 4G so I am not able to offer up comparison results.

Now that the specifications and pricing is out of the way, I can talk a bit about first impressions. I have been using the smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and it is a fairly solid device, especially considering the price of the hardware (and the monthly plan is cheap too). It is noticeably slower at some tasks than my old Samsung Infuse, but that is to be expected with slower-clocked hardware. With that said, performance was actually much better than I expected it to be. The phone is able to run apps and games without issue, though when multi-tasking the game frame-rate starts to dip. Switching between applications (especially with a game running) is not as snappy as with my Infuse, but not terribly slow either. I'm not sure if it's the newer version of Android or not, but the software side of things seems to work well on this hardware.

DSC01283.JPG

The physical smartphone is plastic, but it feels well built. Admittedly, I have dropped my new phone quite a few more times than I would have liked (heh), but it has held up really well. It has not yet gone plastic to concrete yet though. Dropping it on tile and carpet has not caused any issues, however. When holding the phone and using the touchscreen, there is no creaking of the battery door and it seems to stand up to pressure without problems. With that said, I do have one complaint about the physical hardware, and that is that when holding the phone in the landscape position, the end of the back cover next to the speaker grill gives too much and makes a creaking noise when pressed in (say, when playing a racing game). That is the only area that exhibits that issue, however. It is likely due to the fact that Samsung carved out a bit internally for the microSD card and speaker underneath the back cover on the phone itself whereas the rest of the phone's back cover fits snugly to the back of the phone.

Overall, I'm happy with the phone, it gets excellent signal where I live now and is a good Android (albeit 4.0.4) experience for only $100 for the hardware. If you are off contract right now and thinking about switching to one of the many MVNOs (and live in an area with good Verizon coverage), I'd recommend trying out the Samsung Galaxy Centura from what I've experienced thus far. It is not the latest or fastest hardware by far, but it has great price/performance.

Leaked Screenshots Reveal New Features in BlackBerry OS 10.2.0.483

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 05:39 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi direct, evernote, blackberry, BB10.2, BB10

BlackBerry, the company formerly known as RIM, is continuing to work on improving its BB 10 mobile operating system. In fact, version 10.2 adds a number of relatively minor, but rather useful, new features.

Leaked screenshots of a development build show that BlackBerry has added Wi-Fi Direct support, for example. Wi-Fi direct operates like the legacy ad-hoc mode in that it does not require a wireless access point. It allows devices to form a wireless link directly, and this wireless link can be in addition to the BlackBerry 10-powered phone's traditional infrastructure mode Wi-Fi connection between it and your home router. File sharing and printing are the main use cases for this technology.

BlackBerry 10.2 OS adds Wi-Fi Direct.png

The new build also includes a native Evernote application, a tweaked settings panel with an App Manager option to kill unruly apps, and the ability to add subscribed-to calendars to the BlackBerry Hub.

BlackBerry 10 OS Evernote App.png

Finally, the leaked screenshots revealed what could be the best new feature in that build 10.2.0.483 adds so-called actionable notifications. This functionality allows you to respond to BBMs or other notifications from the notification itself, and without having to switch to the app. These quick-reply notifications are bound to be very useful!

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My first smartphone was a BB device (Bold 9000), and while I have since moved into the land of Android devices (with a quick stop at Maemo), BB10 looks interesting and is something that I've been watching since its release. I hope that BlackBerry is able to pull it together and move forward with new devices and its latest mobile OS attempt.

For more juicy BlackBerry 10 details, keep an eye on the BB 10.2 leaked screenshot thread over at CrackBerry Forums!

BlackBerry Reports $84 Million Operating Loss In First Fiscal Quarter 2014

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 2, 2013 - 03:22 AM |
Tagged: RIM, financial results, blackberry, BES10, BB10

BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) recently posted its financial report detailing performance in the first fiscal quarter 2014. Unfortunately, it did not perform nearly as well as investors hoped. BlackBerry experienced increases in quarterly revenue and units shipped, but it still ended up with a hefty operating loss.

Specifically, at the end of fiscal Q1 2014, BlackBerry reported revenue of $3.1 billion with 6.8 million devices shipped and an operating loss of $84 million. The $3.1 billion in revenue is a 15% increase versus the previous quarter ($2.9 billion) and a 9% increase YoY (year over year). Despite the operating loss (which is actually an improvement over the $518 million operating loss in the previous year), BlackBerry still managed to ship 6.8 million units, which is 13% increase versus the previous quarter. BlackBerry did not detail how many of those devices where BB10 devices, but it is estimated to be 2.7 million of the 6.8 million devices shippped versus 1 million BB10 devices shipped in the previous quarter. At least BB10 is gaining some small amount of traction. Among those BlackBerry devices shipped in Q1'14, the company did state that it shipped 100,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

Speaking of the PlayBook, the company had to break its promise to users with the statement that it would not be providing an update for the tablets to its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. The reason given was that the company ran into performance issued on the PlayBook hardware when attempting to get BB10 running, and because they were not able to get it running smoothly they are not giong to release any update after all.

Needless to say, investors where not pleased with the performance of the company or of BlackBerry 10 which (despite being an interesting mobile OS) has not caught on like many had hoped. Instead, the BlackBerry OS is reported to occupy fourth place in the market behind Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone. BlackBerry's stock price dropped as much as 26% following the release of the financial report, according to GSMArena.

According to the company, the following quarter will see improvements, but it will still be operating at a loss. BlackBerry will continue to forge ahead with BlackBerry 10 OS and the accompanying hardware. The company will further development of BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) 10, and a cross-platform version of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) social messaging client. Handsets are going to be the focus with no new tablets. Finally, BlackBerry is going to continue focusing on cost cutting and company streamlining efforts to reduce overhead and other expenses.

The full financial report is available here on the BlackBerry website.

It is not all bad news. BlackBerry still has a fighting chance and I hope they can turn things around and make the new BlackBerry a success. What do you think about BlackBerry's performance so far this year/ Have you seen any BB devices being used instead of the typical iPhone or Android handset?

Source: BlackBerry

Microsoft Surface Pro With 256GB SSD Now Available For $1,199.99

Subject: Mobile | July 1, 2013 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 tablet, windows 8, Surface Pro, microsoft, 256GB

A recent product listing at CDW indicates that Microsoft is adding a new Surface Pro tablet SKU to its existing lineup of 10.6" tablets. The new SKU ups the storage ante to a 256GB solid state drive.

The Surface Pro tablet is otherwise identical to the existing Surface Pros, however. Specifications include an Intel Core i5 3317U processor with HD 4000 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 10.6" 1080p display wrapped in a magnesium chassis.

The 256GB model continues to run Windows 8 Pro, which means that users will have a bit more than 200GB to play around with after Windows, Office, and a few apps are installed.

The 256GB Surface Pro will cost $1,199.99, which means that the extra 128GB of storage comes at a $200 premium over the existing 128GB Surface Pro ($999.99).

Personally I find the Surface Pro to be too expensive for my taste, especially when $1,200 does not even get me a physical keyboard. I would rather grab one of those Windows 8 convertible tablets I've covered recently. On the other hand, if you are using the Surface Pro for business and you need as much built-in storage as possible, at least the new Surface Pro SKU with 256GB SSD is an option now.

Source: CDW

A Humble Bundle for those on the go

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2013 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, humble bundle

If you are unaware of the Humble Bundle then you have really let yourself down as a gamer, while you won't find AAA titles in the bundles you will find a wide variety of quality games at a price you get to choose.  The latest bundle that was assembled comes with support for a new platform to the bundle, Android 6.  Overclockers Club are not totally in love with the games offered in this bundle but with the extra games available for those tossing in about $5.00 or more you still get a great value and support charity as well.  Check out their overview of the bundle, or just head straight to the Bundle page and pick up a selection of cross-platform games.

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"Overall the Humble Bundle with Android 6 is not the strongest bundle we have seen, but certainly has its strengths. It is hard to see why you would not want to get at least the base games, while the two BTA titles may only be worth the few dollars more to a smaller group of you. No matter how you look at it though, the bundle is a great deal and even if it had only one strong title, it would be a great deal. If additional BTA titles are added at the halfway point, as typically happens, the bundle will only get better."

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