ASUS VivoTab RT Tablet and Keyboard/Dock Released with Tegra 3

Subject: Mobile | October 23, 2012 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, vivotab rt, tegra 3, asus

Let the onslaught of new Windows devices continue, this time with the announcement of the ASUS VivoTab RT, a Windows RT-based tablet powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 3 SoC.  We have seen the VivoTab RT leaks and pictures for several months including a price listing just last month, all of which seem to have been spot on. 

vivotab3.jpg

One of the flagship Windows RT devices, the ASUS tablet utilizes an NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC running at up to 1.3 GHz in either dual or quad-core mode.  You can see more background information on the processor itself in our story from September of last year when the product was first announced

The tablet has a sleek design with a 8.3mm profile (0.32 in), 525g weight (1.15 lb) and 10.1-in Super IPS+ screen with a 1366x768 resolution behind scratch-resistant Corning Fit Glass.  It will be available with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage and will start at $599 with an included keyboard dock. 

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As we saw with ASUS Transformer series of tablets, the VivoTab RT will have an optional keyboard dock that includes a trackpad and nearly doubles the battery life of the machine.  Below is the full spec sheet as provided by ASUS:

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When docked, ASUS is claiming a total of 16 hours of usable battery life and with the inclusion of the Office Home and Student version of Microsoft Office 2013 RT, you should actually be able to use this tablet for content creation and business purposes - something we haven't been fond of claiming on Android or iOS based tablets.

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If you are curious to learn more about the VivoTab RT we'll be doing a live streaming run through on the device on our PC Perspective Live! page at 4pm EDT / 1pm PDT, so be sure to join us!! 

Missed the live stream?  Here is a replay so you can enjoy seeing our experiences for a solid hour of usage including SmartGlass!  Also, make sure you pay attention to the first few minutes as we explain the pricing.

Source: ASUS

Join us tomorrow for a LIVE Unboxing and First Impressions of the ASUS Vivo Tab RT!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, nvidia, video, live

If you happen to be free tomorrow afternoon and would like to be one of the first to see the upcoming ASUS Vivo Tab RT based on the Windows RT operating system and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, you should set your calendar for 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT and join me on the PC Perspective Live! page.

asusvivotab.jpg

While we won't have any insight on our long term experiences with the device at that time tomorrow, you can see our initial impressions and anything/everything that occurrs with our intial setup and usage!

If you have questions or thoughts on the device that you want addressed during the live stream, you can leave them here in our comments or hang around in our chat room during the event as well.  We want this to be interactive so your input is requested!

Again, that is 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT at the PC Perspective Live! page.

ARM snaps graphics marketshare from the dragon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: arm, qualcomm, marketshare, SoC, imagination, Vivante, jon peddie, mali

ARM has made some serious impact on the mobile market with their Mali GPU on their SoC, with Jon Peddie Research reporting they have doubled their market share over the past year.  That number is even more impressive when you pair it with the 91.3% growth in the mobile GPU market.  Another player, Vivante, quadrupled their share of the market and while their products are found primarily in Asia you may recognize them as a member of the HSA.  Their success comes at a cost to Imagination and Qualcomm, both of whom have seen their market shares drop. NVIDIA is currently making up 2.5% of the GPU market for tablets and smartphones which is not too bad when you consider that the other four main players all license their processors out while NVIDIA remains the sole provider of its Tegra SoCs.  Get more numbers at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP DESIGNERS ARM and Vivante have achieved significant market share gains in the system-on-chip (SoC) GPU market while Imagination and Qualcomm have seen their market shares fall."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Samsung Launching ATIV 500T and 700T Windows 8 Convertible Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 19, 2012 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, saumsung, Ivy Bridge, Intel, clover trail, atom, ativ 700t, ativ 500t

Samsung is the latest company to announce its fleet of dock-able tablet computers running the full version of Windows 8. Launched under the ATIV Smart PC brand, the company is offering up two models depending on the amount of computing horsepower you need to get work done. Specifically, Samsung is launching the Series 5 ATIV Smart PC 500T and the Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T. Both models will be available for purchase on October 26th for $749.99 and $1,199.99 respectively.

Samsung Series 5 Slate: ATIV Smart PC 500T

The Samsung Series 5, also known as the ATIV Smart PC 500T is a 11.6” tablet powered by Intel’s recently released Clover Trail-based Atom processor platform. It measures 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.38” and weighs 1.65 pounds.The tablet features a LED-backlit touchscreen display with a resolution of 1366x768. A 2.0 megapixel camera and dual 0.8W speakers are also included. The tablet itself can further be paired with a keyboard dock that has a full qwerty keyboard and touchpad.

Samsung ATIV 500T.jpg

Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 processor (running at 1.5 GHz and featuring dual cores with 256 KB each), 2GB of DDR2L memory, and a 64 GB solid state drive. Radios and networking gear includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. [The specifications sheet further claims Gigabit LAN support but there does not appear to be any Ethernet jacks on the tablet so I’m assuming it’s solely marketing to say that it supports connecting to a Gigabit LAN (over Wi-Fi)...] The 500T is powered by a two cell, 30 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery.

The external IO ports include a micro HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, a combination headphone/mic jack, a microSD card slot, and a docking connector.

The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T will come pre-loaded with the 32-bit version of Windows 8. The tablet itself is $649.99 and with the keyboard dock, it will be $749.99.

Samsung Series 7: ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T

If you need more computing power, Samsung is offering up its newest Series 7 slate, the ATIV 700T. This tablet is slightly thicker than the 500T at 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.5”. It is also a bit heavier at 1.89 pounds versus 1.65 pounds with the 500T. That tradeoff in size nets you significantly better hardware, however. It features a LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1920x1080. It further includes the same 1.6W (2 x 0.8W) stereo speakers, but adds a second 8MP rear camera in addition to the 2MP front facing webcam.

Samsung ATIV 700T.jpg

Internally, the 700T is packing an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U processor. This chip is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads along with 3 MB of L3 cache. The 700T features 4 GB of DDR3 at 1600MHz and a 128GB solid state drive. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi also comes standard. The 700T also has a larger 4 cell Li-Po battery (rated at 49 Wh) to power the faster Intel processor.

External IO includes one micro HDMI, one USB 3.0, a combination headphone/mic jack, docking connector, and a micro SD card slot.

The Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T comes bundled with a dock as standard and it has a starting price of $1,199.99. It will come pre-loaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Read more about Windows 8 convertible tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: Samsung

Origin is embracing Lucid's Virtu MVP on their laptops

Subject: Mobile | October 19, 2012 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: origin, EON11-S, lucid, virtu MVP, virtual vsync, hyperformance

As we read about in Matt's review of the Origin EON11-S the new Lucid Virtu MVP technology can really help a moderately powered laptop perform above its class when gaming.  The two technologies, Virtual Vsync and the poorly named Hyperformace both work to give a much better gaming experience than you might expect from a Core i7-3616QM paired with an NVIDIA GT 650M 2GB.  On the other hand because of the nature of the technology it makes properly measuring performance quite difficult.  The Tech Report were up to the challenge of testing games that support both Virtu MVP technologies as well as games which do not support Virtual Vsync.  They found that older games received a better performance boost, with many newer games suffering a variety of problems when Hyperformance is enabled.  As you can always turn off these features, they were quite impressed with the Origin ultrabook and see only benefits from having a system with Lucid's Virtu MVP.

TR_originlaptop.jpg

"Origin's Eon laptops are the first to offer Lucid's Virtu MVP Mobile virtualization scheme. We've taken the 11.6" representative of that lineup for a spin to gauge the technology's benefits in a mobile context."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

ASUS Announces PadFone 2: 4.7" Phone Meets 10.1" Tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 16, 2012 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: whatthecamera, padfone, asus

Out of fairness to our American viewers I will state upfront that information for North America is not currently available and will surface at a later date. ASUS currently only has availability information for the Eastern Hemisphere.

Today, ASUS released their official announcement for their upcoming PadFone 2.

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The original PadFone launched just about six months ago starting with Taiwan in April of this year and reaching Australia by August. The refresh adds a half of an inch to the screen but changes the display technology from Super AMOLED to Super IPS+ LCD/LED. (Edit: The original PadFone screen was 4.2" and the new one is 4.7". The PadFone 2 dock screen is 10.1")

While common convention suggests that a Super AMOLED screen has a higher true contrast than a SuperIPS+ LCD/LED TV we will not know for sure until launch how the latter’s specific SuperIPS+ will stack up the former’s specific Super AMOLED in that metric. On the other hand, we are certain - because ASUS said so - that the SuperIPS+ screen will be 720 HD resolution unlike the 960x540p screen of the original Super AMOLED.

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The internals are getting the largest refresh. The functional RAM of the unit is doubling to 2GB of RAM and the number of cores doubles from dual to quad while maintaining their 1.5 GHz clockrate. The camera also got a resolution bump from 8 megapixels all the way to 13 megapixels. This camera will also be able to take 1080p video at 30fps or 720p video at 60fps.

Again we will need to reserve full judgement until the phone launches whether we will notice a bump in quality with the finer resolution sensor. One trick that a lot of digital camera manufacturers play is putting a ridiculous sensor in a camera behind a lens that cannot focus down that far because it makes for a large number on your box.

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My photographer side was drawn to the f/2.4 aperture and burst mode capabilities: the phone will be capable of taking 6 shots per second for over 16 solid seconds. That is a 100-shot consecutive, solid burst of pictures for those times when you want to capture a specific moment. I guess that is as good of a reason as any to justify sticking twice the RAM of a typical netbook in a phone. The wide aperture should also help with low light performance if you can get in a situation that is not too sensitive to depth of field blur and if the minimum focal distance is small enough let you soften the background of your macro shots.

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The 2140mAh battery is rated for 13 hours of Wi-Fi usage. When connected to the tablet dock the phone will have access to its 5000mAh battery. Sure it will also have a 10.1” screen to power but that is still almost two and a half times the capacity of the phone itself.

The PadFone 2 will launch in 19 countries across Europe and Asia by the end of the year with other countries to be announced later. Official press blast after the break.

Source: ASUS

Sony Launches VAIO Duo 11 Convertible Tablet Ultrabook Running Windows 8

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 13, 2012 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, sony vaio, sony, Ivy Bridge, Intel, convertible tablet

Not content to let the other OEMs have all the Windows 8 tablet fun, Sony has announced a new 11” convertible ultrabook – the VAIO Duo 11 – that uses a sliding hinge to transform from a notebook into a tablet.

The Vaio Duo 11 weighs in a 2.86 pounds and measures 12.6 inches x 7.8 inches. It features an 11.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 10 point multitouch. Also, it has stereo speakers, a 2.4 megapixel webcam, full (backlit) qwerty keyboard, and pressure sensitive digitizer. Interestingly, the Duo 11 does not have a trackpad. Instead, it has a small touch sensitive trackball that resembles the pointing sticks on IBM/Lenovo PCs but on the Vaio Duo 11 the nub does not move. In that respect, it is more like the trackpad on some Blackberry Phones, but smaller. There are two mouse buttons below the spacebar, however. Other specifications include a magnesium alloy chassis.

Duo_Black_01_Hero.jpg

Sony is calling the hinge the “Surf Slider” and the display slides forward to lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode. As Ars Technica points out, when the computer is in notebook mode, there is a ribbon cable to the display that is exposed which is less than ideal.

Ports around the sides of the device include a VGA video output, card reader, and headphone jack on the left, and two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI output, and a power button on the right. Reportedly, there is also an Ethernet jack.

Fortunately, Sony did not have to compromise as much on the internal specifications to achieve the 11” form factor. The Vaio Duo 11 includes an Intel Core i3 (Ivy Bridge) processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and a 128 GB solid state drive.

Sony Vaio Duo 11.jpg

Image credit: CNet. See their full review here.

The convertible ultrabook will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. It will also include Wi-Fi that can establish ad-hoc wireless connections with other devices by tapping the NFC radios together.

Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 will go on sale October 26, 2012. Prices will start at $1,099.99, with more expensive models adding more storage or a faster processor. It is a bit pricey, but this PC is positioned as an ultraportable convertible tablet, and in that respect it is priced competitively with the competition.

You can find the full press release on Sony's website.

Source: Sony

Lenovo Launches Yoga 11 Windows RT Tablet

Subject: Mobile | October 10, 2012 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: yoga 11, windows rt, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, notebook, microsoft, Lenovo

At an event in New York earlier this week Lenovo announced a new Windows RT tablet called the Yoga 11. It will be joining the company’s lineup alongside the larger x86-powered Yoga 13.

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The Lenovo Yoga 11 follows in the footsteps of the Yoga 13 but steps down the hardware specifications. The 11.6” tablet is 15.6mm thick and 2.8 pounds. On a simple level, the Yoga 11 is a notebook that doubles as a tablet thanks to the five point multitouch screen that can swivel 360 degrees to lay flat like a tablet.

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The notebook will come pre-loaded with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows RT operating system as well as Office 2013 RT. It is powered by a NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM System on a Chip (SoC) and 64GB of internal storage. What we don’t know yet is the amount of RAM, radio support (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, et al) if any, and the specific display resolution and panel type. Lenovo has announced that the Yoga 11 will be able to get up to 13 hours of usage on a single charge.

Ideapad-Yoga-11_09-575x424.jpg

The Yoga 11 is a traditional notebook at first glance, and it even includes a full Qwerty keyboard and trackpad. Where the Yoga differentiates itself is in the screen hinge. The hinge allows you to swing the display all the way around to lie flat against the bottom of the computer, which amounts to tablet mode, and every position in between. One use for this feature would be to show off presentation to a small group or prop it up on an airplane to watch a movie. It is essentially a convertible tablet without the center-mounted swivel hinge.

It certainly looks like an interesting device, and the Tegra 3 should provide enough GPU horsepower to allow you to watch HD videos with ease. Unfortunately, pricing and availability are still unknown, which makes this a hard product to place or predict the success of.

Read more about Windows RT tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: NVIDIA

Acer Details Iconia W510 Convertible Tablet With Windows 8

Subject: Mobile | October 9, 2012 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, microsoft, Intel, iconia w510, atom, acer

Earlier this month, Acer announced its Ivy Bridge powered W700 tablet, and now it is time for its little brother to be announced: the Iconia W510 convertible tablet.

The Iconia W510 is a 10.1” tablet that will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system and any x86 applications. The tablet itself is 1.27 pounds and 0.35” thick. On the outside, the W510 features a LED backlit IPS display with resolution of 1366 x 768 that can accept touch input and is protected by Gorilla Glass 2. Also present are two speakers, as well as a 2MP front facing camera and 8MP rear camera. Both of the cameras are capable of recording 1080p video.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet (2).png

Ports on the Iconia W510 include a microSD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and a micro USB 2.0 port.

Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail processor (which we recently reviewed) with two cores running at 1.5 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either a 32 GB or 64 GB solid state drive (SSD). This configuration should result in a decent system for web browsing and running Office 2013, among other everyday tasks. It will not be nearly as speedy as the Ivy Bridge-powered W700, but this tablet is also coming in at a much lower price point.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet (1).png

In addition to the tablet itself, Acer will be selling a keyboard dock. The $150 keyboard docks adds a physical keyboard, trackpad, and second battery. The dock also adds one additional (full size) USB 2.0 port.

Without the keyboard dock, Acer is claiming 9 hours of battery life. With the dock connected, Acer is further claiming that users will get up to 18 hours of battery life.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet (3).png

There will be at least three SKUs of the Acer Iconia W510 tablet. It will be available for purchase in the US and Canada on November 9th. The W510-1674 will feature a 32GB SSD and no dock at a MSRP of $499.99. The W51-1422, on the other hand, will have a 64GB SSD and a bundled keyboard dock for $749.99 (MSRP). Finally, corporate customers will be able to purchase a W510P SKU with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and a two year warranty for $799.99.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet (4).png

You can find more photos of the Icona W510 along with the full press release over at Engadget.

Read more about upcoming Windows 8 tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: Engadget

AMD Launches New Z-Series APU for Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 8, 2012 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: z-60 apu, tablets, radeon hd, APU, amd

AMD launched a new APU today meant for tablets and other mobile devices. The new Z-60 Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is now the company’s lowest power APU processor. AMD is primarily pushing this chip as the best choice for tablets as thin as 10mm that are capable of running Windows 8.

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The Z-60 APU supports AMD’s Start Now and AppZone technologies for fast boot and resume times and application repository respectively. AMD has stated that it identified a gap between low performance and high priced mobile devices, and believes the Z-60 APU fills that void. AMD Corporate Vice President of Ultra-Low Power Products Steve Belt further stated the following:

“Tablet users seeking an uncompromised experience for both creating and consuming content on the Microsoft Windows 8 platform now have a performance-driven, affordable option with the AMD Z-60 APU.”

Interestingly, AMD has managed to bring the TDP of the new Z-60 lower than the previous generation without sacrificing hardware or needing a new manufacturing process. While the Z-01 is part of the Brazos platform (codename Desna), the new Z-60 is codenamed Hondo and part of the Brazos-T platform, which involves several tweaks to the design to get more power efficiency.

The Z-60 has two Bobcat CPU cores clocked at 1GHz, 1MB L2 cache, and a Radeon HD 6250 GPU with 80 cores. This APU has a TDP of 4.5W, which is a noteable decrease from the Z-01's 5.9W TDP when you consider that this chip is going to be used in a battery powered, mobile device. In fact, with a Z-60 APU, AMD is claiming up to eight hours of batery life. Further, thanks to the integrated HD 6250 GPU, the Z-60 can support Direct X 11, OpenGL 4.1, and OpenCL 1.1 graphics technologies.

  CPU Cores CPU Clockspeed L2 Cache Radeon GPU GPU Cores TDP USB Support
Z-60 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 4.5W 3.0
Z-01 (previous generation) 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 5.9W 2.0

AMD has announced that the Z-60 APU is shipping now to its OEM customers. The company expects that consumers should see products using the new processor as soon as the end of this year.

Read more about the future direction of AMD at PC Perspective.

Source: AMD

Acer Iconia W700 Detailed With Pricing - Available October 26

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, w700, tablet, ssd, Ivy Bridge, Intel, acer

First announced at Computex 2012, Acer is finally ready to share all the details (including pricing) on its upcoming Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet.

For the uninitiated, the W700 is the top-end tablet in its Iconia W series. It will be based on an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 or Core i5 processor, 64GB or 128GB SSD, HD4000 graphics (intel processor graphics) and a battery that allegedly provides up to 8 hours of usage. That hardware is powering a 11.6” IPS display with 10-point multitouch and a resolution of 1920x1080. It further features a rear 5MP camera with autofocus and 1080p video recording and a front-facing webcam capable of recording 720p video.

ICONIA-W700_03.jpg

The tablet also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as various sensors for map applications including a(n oddly named) “G-sensor,” accelerometer, and an E-compass. [No mention of a GPS chip though, so it’s unclear how useful the other map technology will be…]

External I/O includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, headphone output jack, and DC power jack.

Because of the Ivy Bridge CPU, the tablet has ventilation slots along the top edge of the tablet. It is less than half an inch thick and weighs in at 2.3 pounds.

Also relevant is that the Acer Iconia W700 will have an accessory dock that will hold the tablet in portrait mode at 70 ° for reading or 20 ° for an angled touchscreen. The dock can also hold the W700 tablet in portrait mode for reading ebooks and the like. A Bluetooth keyboard and micro-HDMI to VGA adapter are also available as bundled accessories.

Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.

As far as new information goes, the W700 will be available on October 26 (Windows 8’s release day). There will be several SKUs with different levels of hardware (ie. Core i3 vs Core i5). MSRPs of the W700 tablet will range from $799.99 to $999.99 depending on the particular hardware configuration. Further, if you are an Acer corporate customer, you will be able to get the W700 tablet with an extended two year warranty and Windows 8 Pro for $1,049.99. You can find read the full press release on the Acer website.

The prices do seem to be on the high end for a Windows 8 tablet, but ASUS’ leaked Windows 8 tablet prices are not far off.

Source: Acer

The Ultrabook Revoltion ... is all in the mind of the professional fortune tellers

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 2, 2012 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, haswell, told you so, fail

We've not been kind to the idea of Ultrabooks here at PC Perspective, even some of the models we reviewed were rated very highly.  The product is nice for those who want an ultra-light, ultra-thin computer with instant resume from sleep and a very long battery life and frankly, who wouldn't like that.  The problem was in the implementation of the design, in order to meet the hardware requirements and the materials required to make a sturdy yet thin device the price soared well above the $600 price point that Intel originally reported an Ultrabook would sell for.  In order to meet all the specifications from the original PR, the price was over $1000 which significantly shrunk the number of consumers willing to purchase an Ultrabook.  Some manufacturers chose instead to compromise and not include all of the hardware originally listed, often the SSD but in other cases we saw lesser LCD panels used or a less sturdy chassis, which lowered the price but also made less consumers interested in purchasing an Ultrabook.

The Ultrabook dream has taken a big hit today as those in the market who predict sales have finally admitted they vastly overestimated the success of the Ultrabook.  Most of these companies sales predictions, such as the iSuppli numbers referenced by The Register, have been sliced in half. Instead of admitting the numbers were inflated they referenced the growing tablet and smartphone market, neither of which devices can manage any task an Ultrabook could apart from the mobility.  An Ultrabook was originally touted as a full computer, not a low powered mobile device. 

From what DigiTimes heard Intel is convinced that Haswell will change all of that somehow, with the new processor making the Ultrabook much more attractive to customers.  Of course they don't mention the pricing, which may fall a bit over the next year thanks to the dropping prices of SSDs but it is doubtful that Haswell will be cheaper than its predecessors.  It is unknown at this point if Intel will continue to provide the cash incentives to manufacturers that they have over the past year but if they want any hope of manufacturers producing the next generation of Ultrabook.  As it stands many major vendors are not interested in designing a new generation of Ultrabook as it is not a product that they made much profit on during the first generation.  SemiAccurate also harbours the same doubts about next generation Ultrabooks they had for the first generation, with more numbers to back up their beliefs.  The analysts still think that the next generation of Ultrabook will do well though ... for some strange reason.

asus-zenbook.jpg

"The basic problem for Ultrabooks at the moment is one of price, Stice explained. Intel's original vision for the platform was for a price point of around $600, but even with the $300m in support and subsidies that Chipzilla is pushing out to manufacturers, prices are much closer to a grand – and at that price, customers aren't biting."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Minecraft Creator Takes a Notch Out of Microsoft

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 29, 2012 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows 8, censorship

And by the way -- Windows Store will censor apps. More on that later.

So around the same time as my future of Windows editorial became published PC Mag published a related piece: Notch from Mojang outrages over certification for Windows Store. Mojang voiced his concerns for the platform and its attempts to “ruin the PC as an open platform.”

I have, and continue to, claim that Microsoft appears to want to close the Windows platform in a near-future revision of the platform. Once there is enough software available through Windows Update and Windows Store it seems highly likely that Microsoft will remove all other ways on to your device -- as they have done with Windows RT. The concept of a cross-device, controlled, and secure platform is just too tempting.

Win8_End_Mic.png

Loyal, but not stupid.

But backwards compatibility is not the only concern with going metro. Everything must be certified.

Indeed - as of the latest July 2012 certification requirements for Windows Store - Microsoft will predictably be censoring applications just as they do with the Xbox. Section 5.8 and 6.2 of the aforementioned certification requirements clearly state: applications must not contain excess or gratuitous profanity and applications must also not contain adult content. Of course this is aimed squarely at the various niches of adult graphic novels (correction: I apparently meant visual novels, not graphic novels - but I'm sure those would not be let on the Windows Store either) and similarly themed interactive content and the message is clear: get out and stay out.

I can think of a couple of countries where that will not fly.

To be fair Microsoft has addressed the issue in the very same section with the following clause:

We understand that in some cases, apps provide a gateway to retail content, user generated content, or web based content. We classify those apps as either Storefront apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and sell third party media or apps, or Streaming apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and stream web-based images, music, video or other media content. In some cases, it may be acceptable for a Storefront or Streaming app to include some content that might otherwise be prohibited in a single purpose app.

The clause functionally means: “Yeah we know web browsers cannot prevent themselves from surfing to the wrong side of the internet’s metaphorical tracks. This is not an excuse to ban them.” It also does not limit the censorship that Microsoft is clearly imposing.

And frankly the issue is not even with adult content; the issue is with the certification itself. We are at a point where Microsoft seems to want us to accept and migrate to their closed platform where everything is certified.

But what if future certification seriously limits or disables 3rd party modifications to software like attempted with Games for Windows Live? What if Microsoft decides to charge developers tens of thousands of dollars just to certify a patch? These are all serious issues to think about.

While you are thinking - consider a plan to simply ditch the Windows platform altogether and go with an open platform we can actually trust.

Source: PC Mag

LG Unveils Optimus Vu II Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: tablet, stylus, smartphone, Qualcomm MSM8960, optimus vuii, LG

LG recently confirmed the specifications for its upcoming smartphone, and the company has gone in a different direction that the other big players this time around. The Optimus Vu II is a rather large phone that is approaching the size of a tablet, and it will cost almost $900. The smartphone is model LG-F200 and measures 132.2 x 85.6 x 9.4 mm. At 159g, it is no lightweight, but is lighter than I would have guessed. It will be available in pick, white, or black colors, with a 5.0" IPS display prominently centered on the front of the device. The display can recognize finger or stylus input, and has a resolution of 1024 x 768. Interestingly, the Optimus Vu II has a 4:3 aspect ratio where most phones opt for the thinner 16:9 displays. This results in a phone that looks almost square, and makes it look more like a tablet than a smartphone.

LG Optimus VU II.jpg

Other features include an 8 MP rear camera, 1.3 MP front facing camera for web conferencing, and the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Connectivity includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, APT-X Codec, MHL (video output to HDMI), NFC, LTE, and USB 2.0. Of course, the Wi-Fi network connection supports DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Miracast.

Internal specifications include a Qualcomm MSM 8960 dual core processor running at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,150 mAh battery that can be charged via magnetic induction. There is an external SD card slot, but no word yet on how much internal storage the Vu II will come with. The smartphone (tablet?) will come with an IR blaster and QRemote software so that you can control your home theater PC setup with it, and a One Key keychain that will make the phone beep loudly to assist you in finding it (unless you have misplaced your keys as well... though that might just be my bad luck heh). The VoLTE support is also notable, and should result in improved audio quality during voice calls.

LG Optimus VU II (2).jpg

The LG Optimus Vu II is a rather odd device with its large 5" screen size, aspect ratio, and boxy design. While we will have to wait for the US launch to confirm the approximate $864 (966,900 won) price, it is an expensive smartphone that looks and operates more like a tablet (and still costs more than a 7" Nexus 7!). As much as I love stylus support, I just don't see the Vu II catching on in the US.

You can find the full press release in the LG Korea newsroom website.

What do you think? Will you be picking up the Vu II, and if so why?

Source: Engadget

Apple's A6 Processor Uses Hand Drawn ARM Cores to Boost Performance

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6

Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.

After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.

Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.

Apple A6 ARM SoC.jpg

Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.

In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.

microscope.jpg

It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.

At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here. 

Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.

Source: ifixit

Track your Linux powered laptops battery usage

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2012 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: linux

Power consumption on Linux has always been harder to track than on Windows, especially at a granular level to determine which components are the most power hungry in your system.  Considering the huge outcry some users made at the release of kernel 3.5 and the high power draw they witnessed, monitoring power has become a hot topic for many. Phoronix just posted a review of PowerTOP, which shows the discharge rate of your laptops battery, as well as how much power your hardware is using including the number of interrupts it is sending to your CPU. For developers there is even a way to create hardware profiles for yourself and your users which will help you extend battery life for all your mobile Linux machines.

powertop_small.png

"Getting the longest battery life on portable Linux machines is yet another moving target as kernels and standards change and vendors continue to snuggle up to Microsoft at the expense of non-Windows users. There was a bit of controversy at the release of the 3.x kernel because it contained a power regression (or not a power regression but something else that behaved like a power regression depending on who was talking) and the result was that Linux got considerably less battery life than Windows on the same machines. This was especially obvious to dual-boot users. This is a long complex story, so if you're interested in the details see the links at the end."

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Source: Phoronix

Mobile wireless storage from Patriot, the Gauntlet Node

Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2012 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: patriot, Gauntlet Node

Patriot's Gauntlet Node will fit any 2.5" drive of 2TB or less in its 3.39" x 5.47" x 0.96" shell and allow you to connect to it wireless via an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connection.  This device is for more than just your normal laptop, as it has support for iOS and Android devices as well.  That could give your phone or tablet a lot more storage than it originally shipped with.  For those of you who prefer an SSD, the USB 3.0 connection will give you good speed but it will be limited by USB 3.0's bandwidth.  [H]ard|OCP really liked this device, even if they did have to wrestle with it a bit when initially setting it up.

H_PatNode.jpg

"The Gauntlet Node from Patriot is designed to provide extra storage to mobile users. The ability for any 2.5" HDD or SSD to operate wirelessly as a hot-spot for up to 8 users and to provide a shared data pool is compelling. It does feature support for Android and iOS devices natively. We test the Gauntlet Node to see if it delivers."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

HTC Announces Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S Smartphones, Coming to Verizon (among others)

Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2012 - 08:23 PM |
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8x, windows phone 8s, windows phone 8, snapdragon s4, microsoft, htc

Not content to let Samsung and Nokia have all the fun with Windows Phone 8, smartphone company HTC has announced two new WP8 devices. The results of a partnership with Microsoft, HTC will be releasing the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S shortly following the official unveiling of the Windows Phone 8 operating system in October.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X will be the company’s flagship WP8 smartphone. On the outside, the HTC phone features a 4.2” Super LCD 2 display with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels (341 PPI). The smartphones will come in yellow, red, black, and blue colors. The front of the device is flat with a ring of color (of your choice) while the back and edges are rounded. No specific dimensions were given, but the smartphone weighs 130 grams. Cameras include a 2.1 MP front-facing camera for video calling that is capable of recording 1080p video as well as an 8 MP rear camera.

HTC WP8X.jpg

Internal specifications include a 1.5GHz dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 1800 mAh battery. Wi-Fi and NFC radios are also present, but the Windows Phone 8X does not appear to support US LTE networks similar to the Samsung ATIV S. On the audio side of things, HTC is touting Beats Audio functionality and an internal amplifier that will allow users to attach larger headphones to the HTC 8X.

The 8X is not the only Windows Phone 8 smartphone that HTC is releasing. Positioned as a budget WP8 option is the HTC Windows Phone 8S. This device goes for a two-tone approach by placing a strip of color along the bottom of the front that extends to fill the entire back. The area around the display is black, and the available colors include white, yellow, red, and blue. It weighs in at 113 grams, which makes it the lightest WP8 smartphone announced so far.

The front of the device features a 4” Super LCD with resolution of 800x480 (233 PPI), and a row of capacitive buttons. There is no front-facing camera on this smartphone, but it does have a mircoSD card slot (unlike the 8X).

Internal specifications include a dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC running at 1GHz, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 1700 mAh battery. The HTC 8S does feature a 5MP rear camera that is capable of recording 720p video. Radios include Wi-Fi and at least 3G. It does not appear to support LTE networks. There is also no NFC support.

HTC WP8S.jpg

WPCentral got hands-on time with the 8S.

The HTC 8S also has support for Beats audio, and HTC is including a Beats Audio application that will allow users to adjust audio output settings.

HTC has not announced any specific pricing, but both models should be available for purchase in November. The HTC 8X smartphone will be supported on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the US. In Canada, Bell and Rogers will support the 8X, and in Europe it will be carried by Orange, O2, Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. Unfortunately, there is no word on which cellular networks will carry the HTC 8S. At least in the US, AT&T and T-Mobile seem like good bets.

Comparison of Upcoming Windows Phone 8 Devices

Current Windows Phone 8 Lineup.jpg

Some details are not official yet (LTE support), or unknown. 

The 8X and 8S are smaller than the Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia and Samsung, and it will be interesting to see which design direction customers prefer. I would expect both of the HTC smartphones to be priced comptetively under the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 based on the specifications to try and lure potential customers in with a lower price tag and similar feature set. As far as raw specs go, the Lumia series seems to have the upper hand, but if HTC prices these right it could be a popular and 'good enough' alternative.

You can find more photos of the 8X over at WPCentral. The video below shows off both the HTC 8X and 8S and the design concepts behind them.

Source: The Verge

ASUS Vivo Tab, Vivo Tab RT, and Taichi Tablet Pricing Leaked

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 19, 2012 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, vivo tab rt, vivo tab, taichi, tablet, pricing, asus

Earlier this month we detailed two ASUS tablets that were on display at IFA 2012. The important specification that was unknown at the time was pricing, however. Specifically, pricing information has been leaked on not only the two ASUS Vivo tablets, but a third tablet that we reported on in June: the ASUS Taichi convertible tablet.

ZDNet claims to have gotten a hold of the final pricing for the three tablets, by means of a leaked slide(s) that represent the company's holiday roadmap. The leaked slide can be seen below. 

Asus Tablet Pricing.jpg

The two upcoming Vivo-series tablets are the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT, which will run the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 8 respectively.

The Vivo Tab will run an Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, front/rear cameras (8MP/2MP), and sport a 10.1" Super IPS+ display (1366x768 resolution). It is rated at 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. According to the leaked slide, the Vivo Tab will be priced at $799 for the base model, and the accompanying keyboard dock will cost an additional $199.

On the other hand, specifications for the Vivo Tab RT include a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, 11.6" Super IPS+ display (1366x768), 8MP/2MP front and rear camera. It weighs 520 grams and is 8.3mm thick. This tablet has a starting price of $599 for the tablet itself, and the keyboard dock costs $199 extra.

Note that this ARM-powered tablet will come with the preview/RTM version of Microsoft Office 2013 at launch (which I have been using since the Customer Preview came out, and generally like it). Once office goes gold, Windows RT tablets will receive a free update to the final version. However, with the Windows RT version, you do not have access to features like macro support in excel (which kind of defeats the purpose of using this a business machine, but at least it's 'free').

Comparison of ASUS' Transformer-style tablets
  ASUS Vivo Tab ASUS Vivo Tab RT ASUS Transformer Prime ASUS Transformer Infinity
Processor/SoC Intel Atom NVIDIA Tegra 3 NVIDIA Tegra 3 NVIDIA Tegra 3
RAM 2GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
Internal Memory 64GB 32GB 32GB 64GB
Display 10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768 11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768 10.1" IPS @ 1280x800 10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200
Camera(s) 8MP rear, 2MP front 8MP rear, 2MP front 8MP rear, 1.2MP front 8MP rear, 2MP front
Size 8.7mm thick 8.3mm thick 10.4" x 7.1" x .3" 10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)
Weight 675g 520g 589.67g 598g

A comparison of the Vivo Tab and Vivo RT compared to ASUS' Android-powered alternatives.

Further, the ASUS Taichi is not only a tablet, but one with dual screens that is actually billed as an ultrabook -- and with a (rumored) price to match! For $1299, you get an ultrabook with two 1920x1080 multi-touch displays on the front and bad "lid" of the laptop. Specifications include an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, SSD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, dual cameras, and USB 3.0 support. Even better, both displays on the Taichi can be used at the same time to share the computer with a friend sitting across from you (unclear how the software handles this though I don't think both users get individual desktops).

What that means is that if you want a Windows 8 tablet from ASUS with a keyboard dock, you are looking at a minimum of $798 for the ARM-powered Vivo Tab RT, $998 for the Vivo Tab, and $1299 for the ASUS Taichi. Now, the Taichi's pricing I can forgive, because it is marketed and positioned as an ultrabook. The two Vivo Tabs do seem overpriced for what you are getting once you factor in the additional cost fo the keyboard dock. If the dock was included in the $599 and $799 (base tablet) prices, I think those prices would be fair – but they do not. Even comparing to the company's Android tablets, it is difficult for me to justify the 'x86 and Microsoft taxes' that are likely responsible for the increased cost. As an example, you can find the 32GB Transformer Prime and keyboard dock for a total of $616.94 on Amazon right now. Is the (approx.) additional $180 really worth it just to run Windows 8 – and the ARM version at that (so no traditional desktop apps). For many people, I think not and I think Microsoft and the many tablet OEMs that are going to try to push Windows 8 tablets/notebooks this holiday season are going to need to re-evaluate the market if they want these devices to sell well.

Micrsoft's Surface tablet is expected to be around the $500 mark as well...

After using Windows 8 RTM on my main desktop, I'm not sold on metro but it's not terrible and it's actually a decent UI when navigating around with a touchscreen (I've also tried it on a convertible tablet). I do think that Windows 8 tablets are a good thing, and if positioned at the right price, Microsoft and the OEMs could sell a lot of these just on the merits of being able to say that this computer/tablet/notebook/et al is running 'Microsoft' and/or 'Windows' on the box and displays (at retail) which consumers are familiar with and comfortable paying for (the brand name).

The crux of it is pricing though, because if there is a 10" tablet for $800 next to a 10" for $600, and the only discernable difference is what is on the screen (the OS, and especially since Win 8 isn't all that reminiscent of Windows' desktop), I have to believe that the majority of consumers are going to go for the cheaper model (likely running Android).

[And that's not really touching on the $1000 Vivo Tab+dock that is running an Atom processor of all things... that is most definitely ultrabook territory and for that price you should be getting at least a Sandy Bridge CPU, and better chassis. If I was in that situation of choosing just between ASUS' devices (with a touchscreen), I would probably just save up the extra cash for the Taichi and get a 'real' ultrabook (internal specs-wise), or go for something like the Transformer Pad Infinity which wouldn't run Windows but would at least have a much better display and be a bit more portable.]

But what do you think? Are the rumored prices reasonable? Would you buy a Windows 8 tablet over an Android tablet even if the Microsoft-powered device is significantly more expensive?

Source: ZDNet

Samsung versus Qualcomm; don't judge a tablet by its cover

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2012 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: tablet, Snapdragon S4 Pro, Samsung, qualcomm, ice cream sandwich, Exynos 4412

You are likely already somewhat familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, running Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 4412.  Externally it looks almost identical to the 10.1" engineering sample that Qualcomm pulled out in front of The Inquirer today but internally they are very different.  Inside the Qualcomm tablet is the new 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, running a hair faster than the Exynos and with a different architecture.  That customized architecture showed up in the testing, the Qualcomm tablet benchmarked higher the Samsung, much higher than the 100MHz speed difference would imply.  However not all was perfect with the usability of the tablet, though The Inquirer does point out this is a tablet still in development and the software is not quite ready for prime time.

snapdragon.jpg

"The INQUIRER took the chance to test Qualcomm's developer tablet Snapdragon processor against the Exynos quad-core chip used in Samsung's popular Galaxy Note 10.1.

On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Qualcomm development tablet are quite similar. Both devices run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and have 10.1in touchscreens."

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Source: The Inquirer