NVIDIA shows Project Shield manufacturing mold, building hype

Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2013 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, project shield, nvidia

After the initial announcement at CES in January, NVIDIA has been trying hard to keep excitement and interest about Project Shield going.  The upcoming Tegra 4-powered mobile Android-based gaming machine will be launched sometime in the summer; both Computex and E3 would make perfect timing. 

NVIDIA passed us a photo of the mold for the casing of Project Shield and though you don't really get any awesome new information out of it, I thought I would share.

Project_Shield_Mold.jpg

The photo you see below shows the production mold that's used to craft the ergonomic casing that houses Project SHIELD's high-powered components: Tegra 4, 5-inch 720p HD retinal touchscreen, Stereo Bass Reflex Speakers, WiFi, accelerometer, gyro, a massive battery, and more. 

To create the casing, we inject a polycarbonate material into the RHCM (Rapid Heat Cycle Molding) tool at 10,800 PSI and 300 degrees Celsius. We use a polycarbonate mixture comprised of 90% Sabic 500ECR-739 PC and 10% glass. This material and injection molding process ensures a sturdy yet lightweight casing that will deliver hours of gaming with no fatigue.

 

In case you are behind on what Project Shield is, you should check out the hands-on video we made during our time with the device last January.

What do you think...are you excited about the launch of this device?  Do any of its features really make you want to buy it once available?

Source: NVIDIA

Unreal Engine 3 compiled to asm.js

Subject: Editorial, Mobile | May 6, 2013 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, firefox, asm.js

Over the weekend we published a post which detailed Javascript advancements to position the web browser as a respectable replacement for native code. Asm.js allows for C-like languages to be compiled into easily optimized script executed at near native performance on asm.js-aware browsers, but are still functional as plain Javascript otherwise. If you wish to see a presentation about asm.js and compiling native code into web code, check out an online slideshow from Alon Zakai of Mozilla.

If, on the other hand, you wish to see an example of a large application compiled for the browser: would Unreal Engine 3 suffice?

UnrealHTML5.jpg

Clearly a computer hardware website would take the effort required to run a few benchmarks, and we do not disappoint. Epic Citadel was run in its benchmark mode in Firefox 20.0.1, Firefox 22.0a2, and Google Chrome; true, it was not run for long on Chrome before the tab crashed, but you cannot blame me for trying.

Each benchmark was run at full-screen 1080p "High Performance" settings on a PC with a Core i7 3770, a GeForce GTX 670, and more available RAM than the browser could possibly even allocate. The usual Firefox framerate limit was removed; they were the only tab open on the same fresh profile; the setting layout.frame_rate.precise was tested in both positions because I cannot keep up what the state of requestAnimationFrame callback delay is; and each scenario was performed twice and averaged.

Firefox 20.0.1

  • layout.frame_rate.precise true: 54.7 FPS
  • layout.frame_rate.precise false: 53.2 FPS

Firefox 22.0a2 (asm.js)

  • layout.frame_rate.precise true: 147.05 FPS
  • layout.frame_rate.precise false: 144.8 FPS

Google Chrome 26.0.1410.64

  • Crashy-crashy

For Unreal Engine 3 compiled into Javascript we notice an almost 3-fold improvement in average framerate with asm.js and the few other tweaks to rendering, Javascript, and WebGL performance between Firefox 20 and 22. I would say that is pretty enticing for developers who are considering compiling into web standards.

It is also very enticing for Epic as well. A little over a month ago, Mark Rein and Tim Sweeney of Epic were interviewed by Gamasutra about HTML5 support for Unreal Engine. Due in part to the removal of UnrealScript in favor of game code being scripted in C++, Unreal Engine 4 will support HTML5. They are working with Mozilla to make the browser a reasonable competitor to consoles; write once, run on Mac, Windows, Linux, or anywhere compatible browsers can be found. Those familiar with my past editorials know this excites me greatly.

So what do our readers think? Comment away!

Cloth simulations in Javascript, optimized for asm.js

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 4, 2013 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, javascript, firefox, asm.js

Web browsers are getting really good at being general-purpose application platforms.

You can write most applications in web standards if you are willing to give up some level of performance for the gained ubiquity. HTML5, Javascript, and CSS are very full featured; WebGL and WebCL extend functionality by backing apps with surprising GPU horsepower; WebAPIs such as gamepad, telephony, and accelerometer support also keep advanced hardware-specific features open to web developers.

asmjsdrool.png

I can see the web developers drooling already.

But even though performance lags behind reasonable native environments, the divide is rapidly shrinking. Many applications have reached or exceeded the saturation of useful performance at the same time as browser developers narrow the gap between native performance and themselves.

Javascript is often, simply, good enough.

Mozilla has recently added support for the draft asm.js in their Aurora prerelease channel for Firefox. The specification is designed to permit a subset of Javascript to be flagged for optimization in compatible browsers but otherwise execute as normal everywhere else. It is also possible to compile more native code into Javascript if you can afford the ever-decreasing performance hit. Early implementations of asm.js execute code compiled from C within half of native performance.

asmjs.png

Because... pants.

According to David Herman of Mozilla, one of the lead authors of the ASM.js draft, the specification also allows for multithreading through web workers. Applications can take advantage of multiple hardware threads in this way, and potentially other methods as they continue development. I would expect this is especially relevant for mobile devices which tend to have relatively many cores considering their single threaded performance.

James Long of Mozilla compiled a cloth simulation into this Javascript subset. It will run in multiple browsers but will perform better in Aurora both in cloth precision and, as I have found, responsivity.

Check it out, imagine what you could be doing in your web browser in the near future.

Source: James Long

It's not a phone, it's an email device! Meet the Blackberry Q10

Subject: Mobile | April 25, 2013 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, blackberry q10

Touchscreen phones might get all the recognition in the press and with the cool kids but for the hard working type who can never truly get away from their email, nothing beats a physical QWERTY keyboard.  Users who prefer Bolds and Curves to flashy touchscreens are finally going to be gifted with the new Blackberry Q10, with very similar specs to the already released Z10.  For those of us that don't tend to see our phones as an entertainment device but simply as work tool the size of the screen really does not matter as much as a responsive and easy to use keyboard.  The Inquirer had a chance to review the new Q10 and you can catch their comments here.

tinq_blackberry-q10-browser-540x334.jpg

"3.1" 720x720 Super AMOLED touchscreen, physical QWERTY keyboard, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 4G and HSDPA connectivity, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 8MP autofocus rear-facing camera with LED flash and HD 1080p video, 2MP HD 720p front camera, Blackberry 10 mobile operating system, 119.6x66.8x10.4mm, 139g

Price £579.95 SIM-free."

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Source: The Inquirer

ARM Details First Quarter 2013 Finances, Company Revenue Up 26% YoY

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 10:14 PM |
Tagged: SoC, mobile, ARMv8, arm

British chip design company ARM recently released an unaudited financial report with details on its Q1 2013 performance. The mobile SoC giant announced that it saw 2.6 million ARM chips in the first quarter of this year, a 35% improvement over last year and further evidence that ARM still dominates the low-power mobile market.

In fact, the chip designer made $94.9 million in licensing all those ARM chips, which was a big chunk of the company’s total Q1 2013 revenue of $263.9 million. Revenue was up by 26% versus the first quarter of the previous year (Q1 2012), which was only $209.4 million. Further, ARM’s profit (pre-tax) is 89.4 million pounds or approximately $137 million USD.

ARM Logo.jpg

ARM saw revenue from both licensing and royalties increase year over year (YoY) by 24% and 33% which indicates that more companies are jumping into the mobile and embedded markets with ARM chips or licenses to make custom designs of their own. According to the report, the company sold five-times more Mali GPUs, saw a 50% increase in ARM-powered embedded devices, and noticed a 25% increase in ARM mobile devices year over year respectively. ARM has also started moving ARMv8 (64-bit ARM) licenses. Of the total 22 licenses in Q1 2013, 7 of the licenses were for ARM’s Cortex-A50 series processors along with a single ARMv8 license (a total of 9 to date). In Q1 2013, ARM also sold three Mali GPU licenses, and one of those was for the company’s high-end Skymir GPU.

In all, ARM had a good first quarter and is showing signs of increased growth. With ARMv8 on the horizon, I am interested to see the company’s numbers next year and how they compare year over year as ARM attempts to take over the server room in particular. The profits and revenue are modest in comparison to X86 giant Intel's Q1 2013 results, but are not bad at all for a company that doesn’t produce chips itself!

You can find ARM's Q1 2013 report here.

Source: ARM

Sony's Tap 20 convertible tablet

Subject: Mobile | April 16, 2013 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: tap 20, sony vaio, hybrid, convertible tablet

Sony has joined the convertible tablet market with the new Tap 20 and Legit Reviews had a chance to work with one.  They come in a wide variety of prices and internals, from $850-$1250, all using a 1600x900 IPS display but with CPUs ranging from Core i5's with 4GB of DDR3 to i7's with 8GB DDR3.  Every model comes with a hard drive for local storage and you can expect almost 3 hours of battery life; since the battery is in the tablet portion you do not get longer life from docking it to the keyboard.  There were a few strange omissions on the tablet as well as some attractive features which you can read about in the full review.

You can also reread Ryan's review here.

LR_vaiotap20_550.jpg

"The Sony VAIO Tap 20 is a very interesting Hybrid PC that runs Windows 8 with 10 finger touch capabilities. The internal battery is rated to last 2 hours 45 minutes, which actually isn't bad for a device like this. Having the ability to unplug the PC and move it around the home is actually rather nice and really makes the PC experience group friendly. The Sony VAIO Tap 20 can be used in tablet mode with it lying on the table and you can play touch games on it versus a friend or share photos and videos with a group..."

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Sauce Labs: Integration into modern.IE

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 13, 2013 - 12:16 AM |
Tagged: w3c, Sauce Labs, modern.IE, IE

The main benefit of open Web Standards is that it allows for a stable and secure platform for any developer to target just about any platform. Still, due to the laws of No Pain: No Gain, those developers need to consider how their application responds on just about every platform. Internet Explorer was once the outlier, and now they are one of the most prominent evangelists. It has been barely two months since we reported on the launch of modern.IE for Microsoft to integrate existing solutions into their product.

Enter Sauce Labs. The San Francisco-based company made a name for themselves by providing testing environments for developers on a spread of browsers across Android, iOS, Linux, MacOSX, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows XP. The company, along with competitor BrowserStack, got recent recognition from Adobe when the software company shut down their own also-competing product.

sauce-labs-logo.png

When we first covered modern.IE back in February (again, here), the initiative from Microsoft was created to help test web apps across multiple versions of Internet Explorer and check for typical incompatibilities. With the addition of Sauce Labs, Microsoft hopes to provide better testing infrastructure as well as automatic recommendations for common issues encountered when trying to develop for both "modern" and legacy versions of their web browser.

In my position, this perfectly highlights the problems with believing you are better than open architectures. At some point, your platform will no longer be able to compete on inertia. Society really does not want to rely on a single entity for anything. It is almost a guarantee that a standard, agreed-upon by several industry members, will end up succeeding in the end. Had Microsoft initially supported the W3C, they would not have experienced even a fraction of the troubles they currently face. They struggle in their attempts to comply with standards and, more importantly, push developers to optimize for their implementation.

There are very good reasons to explain why we do not use AOL keywords anymore. Hopefully the collective Microsoft keeps this grief in mind, particularly the Xbox and Windows RT teams and their divisions.

After the break: the press release.

Source: Sauce Labs

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone Is Coming

Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, jelly bean, galaxy s4, exynos octa, android 4.2.2

Samsung recently launched its new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, and users will be able to pre-order it from several US carriers later this month.

AT&T customers will be able to pre-order the 16GB Galaxy S4 for $199.99 and 32GB model for $249.99 beginning April 16. Those prices are contingent on a two-year contract. US Cellular will also be carrying the new flagship smartphone, but has not announced how much it will cost. Customers can register to be notified when it becomes available, however. T-Mobile is also going to offer the Samsung Galaxy S4, but customers will need to pay full price. According to UK mobile site Phones Review, T-Mobile will offer the smartphone on its new no-contract plans for $99 plus a $20 per month fee until it is paid off starting May 1. Regrettably, there is no word on when (or whether) a Verizon or Sprint-comparable model will show up.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone i9500.jpg

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers up the following specifications. On the outside, the phone features a 5” Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. A 2MP webcam and 12MP auto-focus camera with LED flash are also included. The internals of the phone are also impressive, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD cards). The 2,600 mAh battery seems a bit weak compared to the one in the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but space constraints likely limited the battery size despite the beefier processor and higher-resolution display. Sensors and I/O include accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, and gesture. Wireless radios include a cellular modem (4G LTE, 3G HSDPA), A-GPS+GLONASS, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Qualcomm 600 SoC consists of a quad core Krait 300 processor clocked at 1.9GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU.

Note that the US version does not use the higher-performance Samsung Exynos 5 Octa SoC. For reference, the international model's SoC has the following features:

The Exynos 5 Octa consists of a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU and both a quad core Cortex A15 clocked at 1.6GHz and a 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor with four cores. The two ARM processors are configured in big.LITTLE configuration, so technically it is still a quad core phone--but the lower-power Cortex A7 cores will be used for background tasks and/or to save power while shutting down the Cortex A15 cores when CPU load allows.

The Galaxy S4 will come in White Frost or Black Mist colors. It is an impressive phone and one that I’m considering for my next upgrade pending good reviews. Another good consequence of the S4 launching is price reductions for the Galaxy S3, which may be an option if you don’t have impending upgrade pricing and can’t justify paying the approximate $600 full price of the S4--but still want a new Android phone.

Source: Samsung

WeVideo Launches Free Video Editor for Android Devices

Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 09:58 AM |
Tagged: wevideo, video editor, Android

An online video editing company called WeVideo recently added an Android app to its services. The new WeVideo Android application allows users to capture, edit, and share videos taken by a number of Android 4.2 smartphones and tablets.

Video that has been captured by your phone can be edited, trimmed, stylized, saved to the phone, and published to Youtube, Vimeo, and the company’s own WeVideo site. The video editor also syncs with the WeVideo browser editor and will allow you to capture video on your phone and then edit it on other computers in the online editor. Once published, the app also gives you the option to post a link to Facebook and Twitter that leads to the video.

You can select multiple clips and arrange them on a timeline. The clips can be trimmed and volume can be adjusted. Once on the timeline, you can apply automated styles that include background music, transitions, filters, titles, and effects.

According to WeVideo, the Android video editor is compatible with the following devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (upcoming phone)
  • HTC One (upcoming phone)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Google Nexus
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD
  • HTC Droid DN
  • Sony Xperia S
  • Sony Xperia Z

The app is a free download from the Google Play store (which recently got a facelift).

You can grab it here.

Overall, it seems to have good reviews, but it does have its share of 1-star reviews as well (as pretty much every app does heh). If you have been looking for an Android-equivalent to iMovie this might be a good option -- especially since it’s free.

Source: WeVideo

Samsung Launches Two New Galaxy Mega Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | April 11, 2013 - 08:09 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, galaxy mega, galaxy, android 4.2

Samsung recently officially unveiled its new line of Galaxy Mega smartphones. The new phones (there are currently two on tap) run Android 4.2 and feature relatively gigantic screen sizes. As rumors suggested, and likely in order to keep costs down, the Galaxy Mega phones come without a stylus (like the Note series). Also, the displays are lower resolution than the flagship Galaxy S 4’s 1080p display.

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Galaxy Mega 5.8. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 measures 167.6 x 88 x 8mm and weighs 199 grams. On the outside, the smartphone features a black glossy finish, a 6.3” 720p display, an 1.9MP front-facing camera above the display, and an 8MP rear camera. The phone is powered by a 1.7GHz dual core ARM SoC, 1.5GB of RAM, and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage (which can be expanded via microSD cards). Further, it has a 3,200 mAh battery.

GALAXY Mega 6.3 Android Smartphone.jpg

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 includes accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Poximity, and Gyroscopic sensors. It is compatible with LTE 100/50Mbps, and HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks. A Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (supporting Wi-Fi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS/GLONASS, and NFC radios round out the smartphone’s wireless connectivity options. The phone also features USB 2.0 and MHL support for getting an HDMI output via a powered adapter.

GALAXY Mega 6.3 Android Smartphone Camera.jpg

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 drops down in physical size and weight to 162.6 x 82.4 x 9mm and 182 grams respectively. The phone also drops MHL, NFC, and 802.11ac support. The Galaxy Mega 5.8 has a white glossy finish surrounding a 5.8” TFT touchscreen display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A 1.9MP camera serves video calling duties while the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera for taking higher-quality stills and video.

GALAXY Mega 5.8 Android 4.2 Smartphone.jpg

The smaller (but still huge) Galaxy Mega 5.8

Internal hardware includes a dual core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Wireless connectivity includes a cellular modem compatible with HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS+GLONASS. There is no 16GB SKU, but storage space can be expanded via microSD cards.

Samsung has not released pricing information, but the two new Galaxy Mega phones will be available globally. Europe and Russia will be the first countries to get the new smartphone, which will be in May. From there, the phones will gradually roll out to other markets. Users can expect the hardware to cost less than both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 as the Mega has lower-cost hardware despite the physically larger display. If you just want a large display without paying for the extra horsepower of other flagship smartphones, the Mega series should be a decent option. I would estimate AT&T will sell them for around the $150 mark on contract when they do make a US appearance.

More information along with photos of the new mega-sized Galaxy Mega phones can be found here.

Source: Samsung

Google Rolling Out Play Store Redesign That Emphasizes Larger Images and Faster Checkouts

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 07:45 AM |
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android

Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.

Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.

Google Play store Home Page on a Smartphone.jpg

Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.

From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.

Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?

Source: Android Blog

IDF: ZTE Shows Off New Geek Android Clover Trail+ Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 05:46 AM |
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580

During the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China, ZTE showed off its new Geek phone. The Geek is a 5" smartphone running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and powered by a 32nm Intel Clover Trail+ processor.

The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.

ZTE shows off Geek Android phone at IDF Beijing.jpg

Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.

On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:

  • GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
    • DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
  • Bluetooth 3.0 LE
  • GPS (AGPS)

It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).

What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.

Source: Engadget

(Not) The End of DirectX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | April 7, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: DirectX, DirectX 12

Microsoft DirectX is a series of interfaces for programmers to utilize typically when designing gaming or entertainment applications. Over time it became synonymous with Direct3D, the portion which mostly handles graphics processing by offloading those tasks to the video card. At one point, DirectX even handled networking through DirectPlay although that has been handled by Games for Windows Live or other APIs since Vista.

AMD Corporate Vice President Roy Taylor was recently interviewed by the German press, "c't magazin". When asked about the future of "Never Settle" bundles, Taylor claimed that games such as Crysis 3 and Bioshock: Infinite keep their consumers happy and also keep the industry innovating.

gfwl.png

Keep in mind, the article was translated from German so I might not be entirely accurate with my understanding of his argument.

In a slight tangent, he discussed how new versions of DirectX tends to spur demand for new graphics processors with more processing power and more RAM. He has not heard anything about DirectX 12 and, in fact, he does not believe there will be one. As such, he is turning to bundled games to keep the industry moving forward.

Neowin, upon seeing this interview, reached out to Microsoft who committed to future "innovation with DirectX".

This exchange has obviously sparked a lot of... polarized... online discussion. One claimed that Microsoft is abandoning the PC to gain a foothold in the mobile market which it has practically zero share of. That is why they are dropping DirectX.

Unfortunately this does not make sense: DirectX would be one of the main advantages which Microsoft has in the mobile market. Mobile devices have access to fairly decent GPUs which can use DirectX to draw web pages and applications much smoother and much more power efficiently than their CPU counterparts. If anything, DirectX would be increased in relevance if Microsoft was blindly making a play for mobile.

The major threat to DirectX is still quite off in the horizon. At some point we might begin to see C++Amp or OpenCL nibble away at what DirectX does best: offload highly-parallel tasks to specialized processing units.

Still, releases such as DirectX 11.1 are quite focused on back-end tweaks and adjustments. What do you think a DirectX 12 API would even do, that would not already be possible with DirectX 11?

Source: c't magazin

Blink and It's Gone: Google Forks WebKit

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 6, 2013 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: webkit, Blink, Android, Google Chrome, ChromeOS

There once was a web browser named Konqueror which was quite common in the Linux community. At its core was the KHTML rendering engine, a nice standards-compliant layout package; KHTML was so nice that Apple decided to create WebKit based on it. Since then, WebKit has been the basis of Google Chrome and other applications such as Steam as of a few years ago.

And even though the project maybe never be done, Google stuck a fork in it.

Blink is a new layout engine, based on WebKit, soon to be implemented in Google Chrome. By soon, I mean practically the next release. It stands to reason, too: a forked project by definition starts out looking nearly identical because they both start from the same point. The two projects will be able to evolve in different directions as each begin to differ in needs and desires.

So what does it mean? Firstly, web developers do not need to worry about a new vendor-prefix until at least Google starts to worry about one. According to their above Q&A, they currently seem more interested in reducing prefix support rather than adding new ones. Personally, I expect that at some point they will likely need to add some as standards evolve.

In terms of the future: I feel that multiple rendering engines will only be better for the future of the web. Sure, it can be difficult for web developers to test their products across a variety of devices but that is a drop in the bucket compared to the misery caused when a dominant player gets complacent. A noncompeting player will stop innovating and maybe pull away from open standards.

Then again this pretty much always happens: no-one is satisfied with monopolies. Thankfully the WebKit license made it easy for dissatisfied parties to take action. In turn, WebKit can benefit from many of these developments at their leisure, particularly before their products look too dissimilar.

Source: CNet

Still in the market for a gaming laptop?

Subject: Mobile | April 4, 2013 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, Fangbook X7-200, gaming laptop

If you are one of the few with the money and desire for a gaming laptop you have probably looked at CyberPower as a supplier in the past.  They recently updated their Fangbook series and Legit Reviews got a look at the X7-200 model, with a Core i7-3630QM, GeForce GTX 675MX, 16GB of DDR3-1600 and a 60GB Intel 520 SSD for your OS backed up by a WD Scorpio Black 750GB for storage.  Thankfully they chose a 1920x1080 panel for this 17.3" screen as 1366 would not live up to the components inside.  There are quite a few other extras in this laptop, up to and including a KillerNIC; read the full review for the entire list.

LR_fangbook_outside_1_550.jpg

"The fine folks at Cyberpower PC have sent us over one of their latest creations, and truth be told, I'm looking forward to this one! What we have today is the Cyberpower Fangbook X7-200 gaming notebook. The entire Fangbook series features a massive 17.3" screen (1920x1080 HD LED-Backlit), Intel Core i7-3630QM quad-core processors (to start), and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX and GTX 680M graphics. To say that these things are beasts doesn't do them justice. The Fangbook has the different versions to it, each with slightly different specifications and price points. The Fangbook X7-200 that we have in our hands today starts out at $1549..."

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New Hack Allows Kindle Paperwhites To Be Used As Wireless Display For Rasbperry Pi

Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 10:43 AM |
Tagged: wireless display, Raspberry Pi, paperwhite, mobile, kindle, e-ink

The Raspberry Pi makes for a cheap and low power media PC, file server, or desktop but the lack of a display means that it is not very portable. Recently a hack was posted online by Max Ogden that enables the Rasbperry Pi to be used on the go by pairing it with an Amazon Kindle and its e-ink display. His wireless display setup was actually based on a previous hack that allowed the Pi to be paired with the 3rd-generation Kindle. Ogden's hack takes things a step further by supporting the latest Paperwhite versions as well as no longer requirig a wired connnection between the display and the Raspberry Pi.

By loading the Raspberry Pi with Raspian Linux and adding a terminal emulator to the Kindle, the Kindle connects to the Pi over an SSH session where the Pi console and any keyboard input can be seen on the Kindle's e-ink display. The hardware needed to make the setup work includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, a Wi-Fi USB NIC, The Raspberry Pi, a supported Kindle, and a battery pack with enough juice to power everything. A wired or wireless keyboard and Wi-Fi dongle can be added to the Raspberry Pi Model B, bu Model A users will need to add a USB hub as the $25 model only supports a single USB port on the device itself.

kindle-table.png

Max Ogden shows off his new portable battery-powered Raspberry Pi with wireless e-ink display.

There are some limitations to this setup. One is a bit of latency between typing and seeing the characters appear on the screen due to the low refresh rate inherent in e-ink displays and the wireless connection. Ogden estimates that this delay is around 200ms, and is noticeably but bearable while typing. The other major limitation is that the display can currently only be used to display the Pi console, and not the GUI of Raspian. For writing code or articles, you could get by with a command-line text editor like nano or vi--at the very least it would be a distraction-free writing environment as you could not procrastinate and browse Reddit or watch videos even if you wanted to (heh).

If you are interested in setting up your own wireless Raspberry Pi display, you should check out Ogdens blog for a list of recommended hardware as well as Rod Vagg's tutorial on configuring the Kindle Paperwhite with the correct software.

This is one of the more-useful Raspberry Pi hacks that I've seen so far. Hopefully, a future hack will come along that will also allow one of these e-ink devices to display the GUI desktop environment and not just the terminal.

Source: Max Ogden

Lenovo Allegedly Expanding Chip Design Team, Will Design Its Own Mobile Processors

Subject: Processors | April 3, 2013 - 05:35 AM |
Tagged: mobile, Lenovo, electrical engineering, chip design, arm

According to a recent article in the EE Times, Beijing-based PC OEM Lenovo many be entering the mobile chip design business. An anonymous source allegedly familiar with the matter has indicated that Lenovo will be expanding its Integrated Circuits design team to 100 engineers by the second-half of this year. Further, Lenovo will reportedly task the newly-expanded team with designing an ARM processor of its own to join the ranks of Apple, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, and others.

It is unclear whether Lenovo simply intends to license an existing ARM core and graphics module or if the design team expansion is merely the begining of a growing division that will design a custom chip for its smartphones and Chromebooks to truly differentiate itself and take advantage of vertical integration.

Junko Yoshida of the EE Times article notes that Lenovo was turned away by Samsung when it attempted to use the company's latest Exynos Octa processor. I think that might contribute to the desire to have its own chip design team, but it may also be that the company believes it can compete in a serious way and set its lineup of smartphones apart from the crowd (as Apple has managed to do) as it pursues further Chinese market share and slowly moves its phones into the United States market.

Details are scarce, but it is at least an intriguing protential future for the company. It will be interesting to see if Lenovo is able to make it work in this extremely-competitive and expensive area.

Do you think Lenovo has what it takes to design its own mobile chip? Is it a good idea?

Source: EE Times

How is the Razer Edge not another N-Gage?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 28, 2013 - 10:10 AM |
Tagged: razer blade, gaming

You may remember Nokia's failed N-Gage, the phone that thought it was as console but turned out to be a failure; it seems that Razer is going to market with a similar product called the Blade.  This time we have a product that is a tablet with aspirations to console-hood as you can tell from the gamepad-type controls surrounding the 1366x768 10.1" screen.  Inside you will find an Intel Core i7 processor, a 256GB SSD, and 8GB of RAM all of which adds up to a heavy weight mobile device with not much in the way of battery life.  Gizmodo tried it out at GDC and played BioShock Infinite on Ultra with no problems whatsoever so the performance is there.  On the other hand can a $1500 gaming tablet compete with full Ultrabooks or streaming devices like Project SHIELD?

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"A gaming laptop in a tablet. It's a thought experiment that raises a whole host of questions: Is that even possible? Can it possibly be good? Would anyone even want it if it were? And finally: How much does it cost? The Razer Edge's answers translate roughly to "Yes!", "Sort of.", "Maybe?", and "Erm, you better sit down.""

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Source: Gizmodo

ASUS VivoBook comes close to the original spirit of the Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | March 19, 2013 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: asus, VivoBook S500, ultrabook, win8

The ASUS VivoBook is under $1000, lightweight with a touchscreen for Win8 and it does have an SSD, a small 24GB cache SSD but enough to trim down on boot times and resume from sleep all of which come close to the original specs for an Ultrabook.  Legit Reviews tried out the 1366x768 Core i5-3317 powered Ultrabook, configured with 4GB RAM and a SanDisk cache drive.  It lasted a reasonable 2 hours and 21 minutes in Futuremark Powermark, simulating heavy usage but when it came to the storage subsystem it really lagged behind the competition.  Overall ASUS did make compromises to keept the price low, but if you are looking for an ultramobile touch device and don't need fast storage it is a decent choice.

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"Are you looking for an affordable Intel Ultrabook that features Windows 8 with Touch? The ASUS VivoBook S500 just launched this week and is an entry level 15.4" Intel Ultrabook that is loaded with features and costs under $700 shipped. Read on to see how the ASUS VivoBook S500 Ultrabook performs with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 6GB DDR3 memory, 500GB 5400RPM hard drive and 24GB SSD for caching purposes."

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