A powerful Ultrabook yes ... powerful gaming machine, not so much

Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2013 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, Zeus M2, Intel, ultrabook

Cyberpower went all out on the Zeus M2 gaming laptop they sent to Legit Reviews, in order to show off what their most expensive model is capable of.  The quad core i5-3317U is paired with 16GB of dual channel DDR3-1600 and a 120GB Intel 520 SSD handles the storage but there is one subsystem which is a let down to the rest of the components.  The graphics are handled by the HD4000, not a discreet GPU which really shows in the performance testing Legit Reviews conducted.  If you need a very fast and capable laptop for productivity or maybe light gaming then this is a decent laptop but as a gaming laptop it leaves much to be desired.

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"The CyberPower Zeus M2 offers a 14.1" high gloss screen that has a maximum resolution of 1366x768. This is powered by the Intel 'Ivy Bridge' i5-3317U processor's HD 4000 graphics. While the Intel HD 4000 graphics may not be the meanest graphics around, they are fully capable of some great DirectX 11 graphics and will offer reasonable performance for some light gaming. Speed is certainly one of most common things that people will look for in an Ultrabook, by the specifications the Cyberpower Zeus M2 will have plenty. In addition to the Intel Core i5-3317U quad core processor, there is 16GB of DDR3 RAM installed into the machine! Not just any RAM, Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz RAM, some of the best stuff out there today..."

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HTML5 Games: The Legacy of PC Gaming?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | December 30, 2012 - 04:48 PM |
Tagged: webgl, w3c, html5

I use that title in quite a broad sense.

I ran across an article on The Verge which highlighted the work of a couple of programmers to port classic Realtime Strategy games to the web browser. Command and Conquer along with Dune II, two classics of PC Gaming, are now available online for anyone with a properly standards-compliant browser.

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These games, along with the Sierra classics I wrote about last February, are not just a renaissance of classic PC games: they preserve them. It is up to the implementer to follow the standard, not the standards body to approve implementations. So long as someone still makes a browser which can access a standards-based game, the game can continue to be supported.

A sharp turn from what we are used to with console platforms, right?

I have been saying this for quite some time now: Blizzard and Valve tend to support their games much longer than console manufacturers support their whole platforms. You can still purchase at retail, and they still manufacture, the original StarCraft. The big fear over “modern Windows” is that backwards compatibility will be ended and all applications would need to be certified by the Windows Store.

When programmed for the browser -- yes, even hosted offline on local storage -- those worries disappear. Exceptions for iOS and Windows RT where they only allow you to use Safari or Trident (IE10+) which still leaves you solely at their mercy to follow standards.

Still, as standards get closer to native applications in features and performance, we will have a venue for artists to create and preserve their work for later generations to experience. The current examples might be 2D and of the pre-Pentium era but even now there are 3D-based shooters developed from websites. There is even a ray tracing application built on WebGL (although that technically is reliant on both the W3C and Khronos standards bodies) that just runs in a decent computer with plain-old Firefox or Google Chrome.

Source: The Verge

There's More Apps for That: Windows Store Hits 35,000 Apps

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 29, 2012 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store

I think we all know my opinion on the Windows Store by now. I have been pretty vocal about the severe consequences inherent to requiring certification for applications to exist. Like it or not, it exists, and has recently reached a new milestone in terms of app count.

Paul Thurrott of Supersite for Windows collected a bit from information from various sources about status of the Windows Store. MetroStore Scanner reported that the store surpassed the 35,000 mark on December 27th with apps being added at an intense rate of a several hundred apps per day.

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The rapid inclusion of apps has been a trend throughout its life. The Next Web noted a fairly constant increase of 10000 apps per month. This meant that across the month of November, the Store more than doubled its catalog.

Just a couple of days earlier, Paul also reported that the Windows Store for Windows Phone passed 150,000 apps although it looks like a math error. The blog post claims Microsoft certified 75,000 apps which “more than doubled the catalog” which suggests that the catalog has some amount less than 150,000 apps.

But that is neither here nor there: the Windows Store is getting a bunch of SKUs.

NEC Unveils Super-Thin LaVie X Ultrabook in Japan

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, nec, lavie x, Japan, Intel

NEC, a Japanese PC vendor has unveiled a new LaVie ultrabook–called the LaVie X–that is one of the thinnest on the market. The LaVie X measures 12.8mm thick and weighs 3.5 lbs. It will come pre-loaded with the full version of Windows 8 x64. On the outside, the LaVie X features an IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080, a thin island-style keyboard, and a number of IO ports. Around the edges, the LaVie X has two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video output, and a SD card reader. Above the display is a 2MP camera for video conferencing. Interestingly, while the LaVie Y has a touchscreen, NEC decided to not include a touchscreen on the LaVie X ultrabook in order to maintain its thin form factor. Reportedly, the ultrabook will run for up to 7 hours on battery power.

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Internal specifications include an Intel Core i7 3517U dual core processor running at 1.9GHz with HyperThreading support, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and either a 128GB or 256GB solid state drive (SSD). It further has 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios.

While you will not be able to get this ultrabook stateside without importing it, it will be available in Japan on December 27th. The LaVie X with a 128GB SSD will cost 129,780 Yen, and the version with a 256GB SSD will cost 175,000 Yen. Not including any import fees, you are looking at approximately $1539.89 USD and $2076.41 USD respectively.

Read more about ultrabooks running Windows 8 at PC Perspective.

Source: Techspot

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Details Revealed By Leaked Slide

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, arm

Earlier this year, NVIDIA showed off a roadmap for its Tegra line of mobile system on a chip (SoC) processors. Namely, the next generation Tegra 4 mobile chip is codenamed Wayne and will be the successor to the Tegra 3.

Tegra 4 will use a 28nm manufacturing process and feature improvements to the CPU, GPU, and IO components. Thanks to a leaked slide that appeared on Chip Hell, we now have more details on Tegra 4.

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Leaked Slide.jpg

The 28nm Tegra 4 SoC will keep the same 4+1 CPU design* as the Tegra 3, but it will use ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores instead of the Cortex A9 cores used in the current generation chips. NVIDIA is also improving the GPU portion, and Tegra 4 will reportedly feature a 72 core GPU based on a new architecture. Unfortunately, we do not have specifics on how that GPU is set up architecturally, but the leaked slide indicates that the GPU will be as much as 6x faster than NVIDIA’s own Tegra 3. It will allegedly be fast enough to power displays with resolutions from 1080p @ 120Hz to 4K (refresh rate unknown). Don’t expect to drive games at native 4K resolution, however it should run a tablet OS fine. Interestingly, NVIDIA has included hardware to hardware accelerate VP8 and H.264 video at up to 2560x1440 resolutions.

Additionally, Tegra 4 will feature support for dual channel DDR3L memory, USB 3.0 and hardware accelerated secuity options including HDCP, Secure Boot, and DRM which may make Tegra 4 an attractive option for Windows RT tablets.

The leaked slide has revealed several interesting details on Tegra 4, but it has also raised some questions on the nitty-gritty details. Also, there is no mention of the dual core variant of Tegra 4 – codenamed Grey – that is said to include an integrated Icera 4G LTE cellular modem. Here’s hoping more details surface at CES next month!

* NVIDIA's name for a CPU that features four ARM CPU cores and one lower power ARM companion core.

Source: Chip Hell

HTML5 Defined!

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 02:56 AM |
Tagged: w3c, html5

Open Web Standards has reached a new milestone on Monday when the W3C published their completed definitions for HTML5 and Canvas 2D. There is still a long and hard road until the specification becomes an official standard although the organization is finally comfortable classifying this description as feature complete.

The “Web Platform” is a collection of standards which form an environment for applications to target the web browser. HTML basically forms the structure for content and provides guidelines for what that structure physically means. CSS, Javascript, Canvas 2D, WebGL, WebCL, and other standards then contribute to the form and function of the content.

HTML5 allows for much more media, interactivity, and device-optimization than its 1999 predecessor. This standard, particularly once finalized and recommended by the W3C, can be part of the basis for fully featured programs which function as expected where the standard does.

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This is an important milestone but one by no means the final destination of the standard.

The biggest sticking point in the HTML5 specification is still over video tag behavior. The W3C pushes for standards it recommends to comply with its royalty-free patent policy. Implementation of video has been pretty heavily locked down by various industry bodies, most noticeably MPEG-LA, which is most concerning for open source implementations which might not be able to include H.264. There still does not appear to be a firm resolution with this recent draft.

Still, once the patent issues have been settled, video will not just be accessible in static ways. Tutorials exist to show you how to manipulate the direct image data resulting from the video to do post-processing effects and other calculations. It should be an interesting abstraction for those who wish to implement video assets in applications such as for a texture in a game.

HTML5 is expected to be fully baked sometime in mid-2014. It would be around that time where HTML5.1 would mature to the state HTML5 celebrates today.

Source: W3C

AMD Announces Mobility 8000M Graphics Family with Modified Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | December 17, 2012 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: radeon, mobility, amd, 8800m, 8700m, 8600m, 8500m, 8000m

AMD appears to be jumping the gun a bit here but has decided to announce the Radeon 8000M-series of mobile GPUs prior to CES.  Before you get all riled up about the next generation of graphics technology, you should know that the new parts we are showing here are still built on the same 28nm Graphics Core Now (GCN) architecture that you'll find in the Radeon HD 7000 series of desktop graphics cards and even some already-existing Radeon mobility parts like the HD 7970M.  We were told there are "some changes" but details were minimal.

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Radeon HD 8500M and 8600M GPUs will both feature 384 stream processors with the variance related to the maximum clock speed.  The 8600M will hit 775 MHz core clock while the 8500M will cap out at 650 MHz.  Memory speeds are identical.  Keep in mind that the desktop Radeon HD 7750 card has 512 stream processors and it runs at up to 900 MHz so you that can put the performance of these mainstream GPUs in perspective.

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The 8700M uses the same 384 stream processor GPU though it gets a bit higher clock speed at 850 MHz.  The 8800M is the only GPU announced today to increase the core count to 640 stream processors and a clock speed of 700 MHz for a total compute capability of 992 GFLOPs.  Though the specifications are nearly equivalent to the build of the desktop Radeon HD 7770 part it is worth mentioning that the theoretical peak performance of that GPU is 1.28 TFLOPs; nearly 30% higher than the 8800M.

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AMD was coy but hinted that this mainstream product announcement will be added to later in Q1 with higher end enthusiast-level SKUs.  No 8900s yet guys, check back later.

When asked about the changes in this mobility GPU release compared to the 7000M series already available today, we only know that this is built on the same 28nm process but that the "architecture is slightly different and more efficient" than the 7000 chips.  These are NEW chips and are NOT rebrands of currently available products.  We don't have die sizes, transistor counts or TDPs until further notice.

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AMD did provide a couple of quick graphs comparing the performance of the Radeon HD 8870M against the GeForce 650M G5 and The 8770M against its own previously releaesd 7670M part.  Take all of this with a grain of salt until we can do our own testing, as per usual.

For now, I would say our readers should be very timid about the idea of a new series of GPUs from AMD without more information on the actual changes in performance will be compared to Souther Islands.  Based on what we are hearing the changes are very minor.

ASUS Partners with VIA for Tablet SoCs

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 13, 2012 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, VIA

We have not heard too much about VIA Technologies developing CPUs in recent history. They still hold an x86 license until at least some time in 2013. VIA also develops ARM SoCs, apparently, and have recently struck a deal to get in multiple 7-inch tablets by Asustek. These models will be exclusively sold to China.

ASUS set a goal of 12 million sales for tablet PCs for 2013 and one way to accomplish that milestone is to provide cheap but decent devices. This goal is firmly in the same order of magnitude as iPad sales. Still, ASUS already has a fairly big presence in the tablet market with its strong Transformer line and more notably Google’s Nexus 7.

VIA will provide ARM Cortex A9 processors for the lower end of ASUS’ product line. The model which they will be embedded in will retail for somewhere between $99-$149 USD. These devices will be available in China for the Lunar New Year season of 2013.

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Interestingly Asustek has not contracted out Pegatron to manufacture the device, opting instead for Wistron Corp. to fulfill the order. The two companies, Pegatron and Asustek, were once one-in-the-same; founded by a businessman with a fascination for the Greek mythological Pegasus. The company changed with the climate like any other and Pegatron was spun off into its own independent entity. Since then, Pegatron has been hard at work developing laptops and tablets for ASUS as well as picking up orders from Apple and others.

The first shipment of 2-3 million manufactured devices is rumored to be delivered to Asus by the end of December. Perhaps these sales can help bolster VIA and their ability to develop CPUs once more?

Source: CENS

Intel Might Become a Foundry -- For ARM? If Apple Goes x86

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: Intel, arm, apple

Hopefully I did not make your head hurt too much with that title.

Intel announced early in the year the opening of their fabrication labs to certain other developers, none of which competing with anything Intel does. We joked about how this is the end of the world as we know it although we feel fine. As it turns out, the world might end December 2012: RBC rumors that Intel might fulfill orders of ARM processors taking away that responsibility from Samsung.

Of course, there will always be a catch. It is possible that Intel will allow Apple to manufacture their ARM-based processors at Intel if Apple switches their tablets to x86-based products. No-one said the apocalypse must be an irrational event.

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When pigs fly? Challenge accepted.

If this rumor comes to fruition - and that is a mighty large if - we finally know that a line of apathy exists within Intel. Intel fabricating an architecture that they directly compete with is a big deal, ignore their motive.

Intel has allegedly made a compromise, definitively this time. We debated fairly heavily whether Intel made a compromise when they allowed FBGAs to be manufactured at their facilities. This time there is no question about whether Intel will make a concession to better its company as a whole.

I have no doubt that Intel desires to stomp competing platforms but we should all doubt that Intel would never step into some middle ground. After all, Intel is not even suffering at this point by any measure. Imagine if the situation actually begins to look dire.

Source: CNN

Could Dell finally awaken the Penguin with Linux powered XPS machines?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell

Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering.  Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up.  There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card.  It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.

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"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.

Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."

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Source: The Inquirer

Flashing tablets for fun and frustration at the same time

Subject: Mobile | December 3, 2012 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: jelly bean, flash, galaxy nexus, CyanogenMod, mod, Android

If you were an early adopter and now have an aging Android tablet which is not being supported by the manufacturer, or at least they are very slow at releasing updates, you can always try flashing it with a custom ROM.  The Tech Report tried this out on a Galaxy Nexus using a ROM from CyanogenMod, a fairly well known provider of such things.  While it certainly improved the performance of the OS, there were several issues including the failure of GPS which prompted them to try out other ROMs.  Head on over to read up on the most current images you can flash to, their providers and the difference between the two types of ROMs currently available.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior recounts his experience trying to revitalize an aging Android tablet with custom Jelly Bean ROMs."

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Microsoft Surface Pro Priced and Dated

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 29, 2012 - 10:52 PM |
Tagged: surface, Surface Pro, windows 8

When surface was originally announced we were promised the availability of two different models: Surface RT and Surface Pro. The two devices are what Microsoft considers canonical to the modern Windows experience. The original Microsoft Surface, an interactive table designed for commercial applications, was stripped of its trademark and rebranded Microsoft PixelSense.

The Surface RT was positioned as the introductory and lower-end Windows tablet incapable of x86-support. With a base price of $499 the ARM-based device takes up the lower end of the market with an attempt to bring laptop form to an iPad-style platform.

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The Surface Pro will come in two SKUs: a 64GB version will cost you $899 or fork over $999 to double that to 128GB of flash storage. All SKUs will include an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and an Intel HD 4000 GPU driving a 10.6” 1080p display. You will be able to attach an external monitor via mini display port. Windows 8 will be the driving operating system behind this device and bring support for x86 applications to the Surface platform.

Neither Surface Pro SKU will include a keyboard-cover in the price but both will include a stylus. You still have the option of augmenting your device with their magnetically attached keyboards. I can only assume that Microsoft did not include them solely for pricing.

The Surface family will complete in January 2013.

Razer Announces Updated Orochi Mouse For Mobile Gaming

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: razer orochi, razer, PC, mouse, mobile, laptop, gaming

Razer has been on an updating kick this month with a number of its gaming mice being refreshed with better hardware and support for Synapse 2.0 (cloud syncing) software. This time, Razer is turning to its mobile lineup and giving the Orochi an upgrade for a 2013 release.

Razer Orochi 2013 Mobile Mouse.jpg

The ambidextrous mouse can be used in a wired or wireless configuration. While the original Orochi featured a 4000 DPI laser sensor, the updated model upgrades the sensor to 6400 DPI. Further, Razer has bumped up the Bluetooth radio to one rated at Bluetooth 3.0 specifications. Powered by two AA batteries, Razer has reportedly improved battery life by a significant margin. The company rates the mobile gaming mouse at up to 30 hours of continuous gaming, and three months of normal use.

 

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The refreshed mouse maintains the traditional LED-lit scroll wheel, mouse buttons, and two side buttons of the original Orochi. Interestingly, it comes in a shinier "chrome" colored variant in addition to the standard black blade addition.

The refreshed Orochi 2013 is available for pre-order now for $69.99. According to the Razer website, the blade edition will ship in 1-2 weeks and the chrome variant will ship in a little over a month.

Source: Razer

Minecraft Brings Cake to Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 24, 2012 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged:

You might like pie, you might be a terrible person who likes cake, I will not judge.

One of Minecraft’s many features is the ability to craft a cake to use as food despite being wholly inferior to a couple of pork chops or steaks. You are not able to craft a pie. Soon you will be able to craft the game on a Raspberry Pi, however.

Mojang made an announcement on their blog recently which outlined their plans to port Minecraft Pocket to the cheap Raspberry Pi computer. While this might be exciting for those who use the Raspberry Pi as a cheap home theatre PC, there is something special about this build.

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If you close a Windows, someone will open a source.

The Raspberry Pi was designed by David Braben to be an educational device. Its intent was to provide students with a cheap device loaded with much of the software development tools they would require to learn and develop their own applications.

Mojang is also interested in this ideal.

This version of the game, called Minecraft: Pi Edition, is said to be available in multiple programming languages. The intent is for users to learn to program by modifying and extending Minecraft. The game certainly is popular enough with students and would be an engaging way to frame the skills they require in the context of an existing game. I hope it will also help perpetuate the oft threatened ideal that third party game modifications should be promoted and preserved.

Minecraft: Pi Edition will be provided completely free.

Source: Mojang

A $250 Dual Core Cortex A15 powered Chromebook from Samsung

Subject: Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, Chromebook, cortex a15, Samsung, linux, exynos 5

At $250 this Samsung Chromebook costs less than most tablets or phones but can outperform previous A9 powered models and the Atom D525 as well.  The processor is Samsung's Exynos 5, a dual core A15 chip running at 1.7GHz with ARM's Mali-T604 graphics  and is accompanied by 2GB of DDR3 and a 16GB SSD.  It can be loaded with Ubuntu 13.04 and offers a compelling and inexpensive alternative to Sleekbooks and Ultrabooks as it weighs 2.5lbs and is 11.4" x 8.09" x 0.69" and promises over 6 hours of battery life.  Check out how it performs at Phoronix.

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"Google recently launched the Samsung Chromebook that for $249 USD features an 11-inch display, a 16GB SSD, a promise of 6.5-hour battery life, and is backed by a Samsung Exynos 5 SoC. The Samsung Exynos 5 packs a 1.7GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor with ARM Mali-T604 graphics. With using this new ARM Cortex-A15 chip plus the Samsung Chromebook not being locked down so it can be loaded up with a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or openSUSE, it was a must-buy for carrying out some interesting Cortex-A15 Linux benchmarks. The Exynos 5 Dual in this affordable laptop packs an impressive performance punch."

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Source: Phoronix

Intel CEO Paul Otellini Resigns in May 2013, Two Years Early

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Intel, CEO

Intel has not had any financial or directional problems nor have they experienced a revolving door in upper management, at least to my knowledge. Paul Otellini was expected to remain at the helm of the chip giant until he turned 65 at which point he would enjoy a wonderful retirement. He would have commanded the company for a full decade.

Intel recently announced that Otellini will leave the company and retire at 62.

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Possibly the most important part of the story might be the non-story piece: there does not appear to be any reason for him to leave. The board apparently did not want him to go. ARM holds a large lead in momentum over Intel, during Paul’s watch, in the mobile market but even then the future looks promising with early commentaries about Clover Trail. If I had to guess I would posit that his decision to step down is entirely for personal and possibly sudden circumstances. That was just a guess, however.

To further speculation about its abruptness, Intel does not seem to have anyone in mind as a replacement in just 6 months’ time. For the first time Intel will consider fulfilling the position from outside the company.

In related news, Intel’s stock made a slight dip in value after the abrupt announcement. While the decline was slight it does echo the reluctance mentioned earlier and shows that even the stock market approved of Intel’s performance over the last eight years.

Now Intel owns 3DLabs and they may be making better mobiles with them

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 20, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Creative, SoC, ziilabs

Ziilabs might not be a name you recognize now, but it is one you were likely familiar with at one time.  That is the current name of 3DLabs which was purchased by Creative back in 2002 and is now responsible for SoC development at Creative, especially integrating the StemCell media processor into the ARM chips which make the basis of the mobile processors.  Intel paid $30 million for physical resources and assets along with $20 million for patents, giving them the ability to move from their current solution for Atom processors, PowerVR to the StemCell architecture.  Could it be possible that with a stronger Atom that Intel might be able to power more cell phones and take a larger share of that market as well?  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel will license patents from Ziilabs and purchase assets from the UK based chip designer.

Ziilabs is a UK based subsidiary of Creative Technology focusing on system on chip (SoC) designs for smartphones and tablets. While the firm has yet to register on the public conciousness, it clearly has been on Intel's radar for a while and announced a $50m asset sale and patent licensing deal."

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Source: The Inquirer

Too big for comfort? The Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Subject: Mobile | November 19, 2012 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 2, phablet

Even with its overly large body the original Samsung Galaxy Note sold well, as it sported a large screen to go with its large body.  The second version now has a slightly larger screen of 5.5" and slightly smaller body but not enough to shrink the phone noticeably.  Apart from its size the other unique feature that the Note 2 has is the S Pen which allows you to draw and write on the screen, a feature that attracted many users to the original model.  Also worth noting is the graphics chip, instead of the more common Snapdragon this phone has a Exynos processor which is up to most tasks but when running apps which are optimized for the other graphics chips you may notice the quality degrade a bit.  TechSpot has a full review of this phablet right here.

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"The Samsung Galaxy Note II is big. Colossally big. It's important to get that description out of the way because anyone who sees or holds the Galaxy Note II will have no choice but to be taken aback by how large is the phone-meets-tablet.

The same predicament made doubters believe that the original Galaxy Note was too big to succeed, but millions of phones sold later, that proved to be a false prediction. The Galaxy Note II is a smooth and dynamic experience from top to bottom. It's probably too big as a phone or too small as a tablet for most, but many will find it's a comfortable compromise between the two form factors."

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Source: TechSpot

Ready for the next OLED let down ... bendable cellphones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 16, 2012 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: oled, Samsung, smartphone

If the marketing had been accurate we would now all be using millimetre thin displays with vibrant colours and near instantaneous response, either on our desks or in some form of electronic paper.  Unfortunately organic LED screens have proven both difficult and expensive to make, with manufacturers still trying to find a way to make large OLED devices affordable for consumers.  The next possible product is one we have seen prototypes of but if Samsung is to be believed they will be hawking bendable plastic phones next year.  OLED phones would have several benefits, without glass they would weigh less than a traditional phone and could be somewhat slimmer, but the biggest benefit to OLEDs is that they can tolerate bending and twisting and still function properly.  Hit up The Register for more on Samsung's new plans as well as a look at some of the prototypes previously offered by their competitors, but not Apple.

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"Development work on Samsung mobiles fitted with flexible OLED displays is nearing completing, with handsets set to be released in the first half of 2013, it has been claimed.

A source said to be close to the matter reckons Samsung is almost ready to launch flexible displays for mobile handsets, the Wall Street Journal reports."

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Source: The Register

Viva las VivoTab

Subject: Mobile | November 13, 2012 - 06:55 PM |
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, winRT

Hopefully the rounded corners on the VivoTab will not catch the attention of Cupertino but until it does this convertible tablet/notebook will be popular.  The tablet portion has a 10.1" 1366 x 768 SuperIPS+ display, aka 155 PPI, powered by a Tegra 3 T30 @ 1.3GHz. It has an 8MP camera at the rear and a 2MP camera which faces you for video conferencing and while it does have the ability to provide a USB connection it does so with an adapter and the docking port, so USB is unavailable when you are docked.  Overall The Tech Report mostly liked the device, it might load some WinRT apps slowly but once they are running they perform admirably; lack of support for x86 programs was disappointing and in some ways they preferred the previous Android versions.   See why that is so in the full article.

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"Asus' Transformer approach to convertible tablets has finally come to Windows. We take a closer look at the new VivoTab RT."

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