Still in the market for a gaming laptop?

Subject: Mobile | April 4, 2013 - 04:18 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.

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"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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Mobile

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

Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 01:43 PM |
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.

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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 - 08:35 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 - 01:10 PM |
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 - 03:21 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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Mobile

GTC 2013: Prepare for Graphics Overload

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2013 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2013, nvidia

We just received word from Tim Verry, our GTC correspondent and news troll, about his first kick at the conference. This... is his story.

Graphics card manufacturer, NVIDIA, is hosting its annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2013) in San Jose, California this week. PC Perspective will be roaming the exhibit floor and covering sessions as NVIDIA and its partners discuss upcoming graphics technologies, GPGPU, programming, and a number of other low level computing topics.

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The future... is tomorrow!

A number of tech companies will be on site and delivering presentations to show off their latest Kepler-based systems. NVIDIA will deliver its keynote presentation tomorrow for the press, financial and industry analysts, and business partners to provide a glimpse at the green team's roadmap throughout 2013 - and maybe beyond.

We cannot say for certain what NVIDIA will reveal during its keynote; but, since we have not been briefed ahead of time, we are completely free to speculate! I think one certainty is the official launch of the Kepler-based K6000 workstation card; for example. While I do not expect to see Maxwell, we could possibly see a planned refresh of the Kepler-based components with some incremental improvements: I predict power efficiency over performance. Perhaps we will receive a cheaper Titan-like consumer card towards the end of 2013? Wishful thinking on my part? A refresh of its GK104 architecture would be nice to see as well, even if actual hardware will not show up until next year. I expect that NVIDIA will react to whatever plans AMD has to decide whether it is in their interest to match them or not.

I do expect to see more information on GRID and Project SHIELD, however. NVIDIA has reportedly broadened the scope of this year's conference to include mobile sessions: expect Tegra programming and mobile GPGPU goodness to be on tap.

It should be an interesting week of GPU news. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more coverage as the conference gets underway.

What are you hoping to see from NVIDIA at GTC 2013?

Welcome Richland, another refined die from AMD

Subject: Processors | March 12, 2013 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: VLIW4, trinity, Richland, piledriver, notebook, mobile, hd 8000, APU, amd, A10-5750

The differences between Richland and Trinity are not earth shattering but there are certainly some refinements implemented by AMD in the A10-5750.  One very noticeable one is support for DDR3-1866 as well as better power management for both the CPU and GPU; with new temperature balancing algorithms and measurement the ability to balance the load properly has increased from Trinity.  Many AMD users will be more interested in the GPU portion of the die than the CPU, as that is where AMD actually has as lead on Intel and this particular chip contains the HD8650G, with clocks of 720MHz boost and 533MHz base and increase from the previous generation of 35 and 37MHz respectively.  You can read more about the other three models that will be released over at The Tech Report.

Don't forget Josh either!

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"AMD has formally introduced the first members of its Richland APU family. We have the goods on the chips and Richland's new power management tech, which combines temperature-based inputs with bottleneck-aware clock boosting."

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Processors

Not quite an ultrabook but more than a tablet, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2013 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, win8, digital audio converter, ultrabook

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T is a convertible tablet with aspirations to be an ultrabook, it is 1.97 lbs, with an 11.6" 1080p touchscreen powered by a Core i5-3317U with 4GB of DDR3-1600 in single channel configuration.  For connectivity you get a a MicroSD port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports on the dock, Micro HDMI and analog audio with Wi-Fi, WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.  The Tech Report tested its battery life for both surfing and playing 720p video, seeing 6 hours in the first case and 5 hours in the second with very little difference when tested docked.  The final verdict was mixed, while it is almost an ultrabook and almost a convertible tablet in many ways it inherited the worst of both worlds; though if you find yourself needing both devices in your life this ATIV might be a good compromise for you.

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"This Windows 8 convertible has x86 ultrabook guts, an 11.6" 1080p display, and speedy solid-state storage. Attach it to the bundled keyboard dock, and it turns into a quasi-ultrabook. Is this the ultimate Windows 8 mobile machine, and is it worth the nearly $1,200 asking price?"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Android Version of Chrome May Get SPDY Proxy Speed Boost

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2013 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: web browser, mobile, chrome, Android

Chrome for Android will allegedly be getting a speed boost thanks to a new SPDY-assisted proxy service. If a recent patch is any indication, future versions of Chrome may adopt a proxy service similar to Opera Turbo, Amazon Silk, or BlackBerry Proxy. Google would take advantage of its SPDY protocol to compress and multiplex web sites. We requests would be sent through Google, where Google would take the HTTP/HTTPS pages, compress and otherwise optimize them, and send them to your Android smartphone.

 

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While on Wi-Fi or a wired connection, the performance merits of such proxy services are minimal at best (and at worst can actually slow down page loads). With that said, over a mobile network--especially if you are living in an area with (at best) 3G speeds, the new SPDY proxy service could make a huge difference in page load times. If my experiences using Opera and its Turbo proxy service over a 3G connection for the past month is any indication of the potential benefits of such a setup, some pages will load much faster, a few sites will actually load slower than browsing without the proxy, and the majority of websites will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, providing a slightly faster web browsing experience. Google may be taking things a step further by introducing its SPDY protocol to speed up the HTTP requests, which is an interesting tactic beyond the basic compression and/or caching that the existing alternatives employ.

Details on the hinted-at Google-run SPDY proxy service are scarce, but I hope that it holds true. There are some privacy considerations, but if you are just reading articles and have resigned yourself to the fact that Chrome/Google tracks you anyway (heh) it is a nice optional feature to have!

Source: Engadget

Seagate Will Cease Production of 7200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives Later This Year

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2013 - 04:49 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, mobile, laptop, hard drives, 7200 rpm

Seagate Technology, the world’s second largest hard drive manufacturer (by market share), recently announced that it will be ceasing production on notebook hard drives featuring 7200 RPM spindle speeds. According to X-Bit Labs, Seagate Director of Marketing and Product Management David Burks stated that “We are going [to] stop building our notebook 7200rpm hard disk drives at the end of 2013.”

 

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Stopping production of high-end notebook hard drives is a curious move for a company that is still dependent on hard drives to survive--with just a toe in the Solid State space with its hybrid hard drives. On the other hand, the market for such high-end notebook drives is likely feeling pressure from Solid State drives for pure performance at any price, cheap hard drives paired with a small mSATA caching SSD, and high-capacity 5400 RPM drives at extremely cheap prices. Users that would have traditionally favored 7200 RPM drives for an extra price during laptop configuration are now faced with more choices on the performance at modest price increases front with caching options. Further, with the advent of interfaces like Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, it is now more acceptable to go with a low capacity, cheaper, Solid State Drive for the operating system and applications while using external hard drives for your storage needs without incurring a transfer speed bottleneck that USB 2.0 exhibited.

Reportedly, Seagate will stop production of its Momentus 7200.4, Momentus 7200.2, and Momentus Thin notebook drive lineups. Further, the storage company will put more focus into further fleshing out its Momentus XT drives. The XT series features a spindle hard drive and small bit of SLC NAND flash for caching frequently accessed files. Hopefully the renewed focus on its hybrid hard drive series will result in drives with larger caches. That may necessitate the move to MLC flash to keep costs down, but I think a HHD with 32GB+ of MLC or TLC flash would be an acceptable compromise.

What do you think of the move? Customers will likely be able to get their hands on 7200 RPM mobile drives well into 2014 thanks to stock on hand at the various OEMs and retailers (and alternative options from other HDD manufacturers), so the fallout is likely to be minimal. Still, is it the right move for Seagate?

Source: X-Bit Labs

ASUS PadFone Infinity Bows at MWC 2013

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 1, 2013 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 600, qualcomm, padfone infinity, padfone, MWC 13, MWC, asus

Mobile World Congress 2013 pulled up stakes yesterday in Barcelona, but the buzz will echo worldwide for quite a while. While fewer companies are unveiling flagship devices at the big industry shows, one new entrant into the mobile sphere definitely caught our eye: the ASUS PadFone Infinity.

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Image via ASUS.com

Not to be confused with ASUS's 7" phablet Fonepad, the PadFone Infinity is the company's third version of its two-in-one phone/tablet, and it has taken major strides beyond its predecessors, the PadFone and the PadFone 2.

On its own, the handset is a 5" LTE phone, powered by Qualcomm's 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-core CPU, with 2 GB of RAM and the integrated Andreno 320 GPU that can crank out 1080p video sweetness (improving on the PadFone 2's 720p), and with 64 GB of onboard storage. Also included is 50 GB of free ASUS Webstorage for two years.

The PadFone Infinity ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (although the demo video embedded below says 4.1) and is the first in its family to sport an anodized aluminum unibody with a brushed-metal back case.

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Image via ASUS.com

But slide it into the PadFone Station, and suddenly you're holding a full-HD, 10.1" tablet. Basically, it's like getting two devices on a single carrier contract.

The devices' battery performance is fairly impressive, at least when taken in tandem. The phone lists 19 hours of 3G talk time, which can triple when connected to the Station. The phone's battery claims 6.5 hours of browsing and nine hours of video playback, to each of which you can add 7.5 hours when connected to the Station.

The phone's 5" display--up from 4.3" and 4.7" in the first two generations respectively--features 1920x1080 pixels (the same as the pad's 10.1" screen) with a resolution of 441 PPI. (Compare at 326 PPI on the iPhone 5's Retina Display.)

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Image via ASUS.com

The dimensions of each device are relatively svelte. The phone is 8.9 mm thick, tapering sharply to 6.3 mm at the edges, and weighing in at 141 grams (roughly 5 ounces, for the metrically challenged). The pad is 10.6 mm thick and adds 530 grams (nearly 19 ounces) to the overall weight.

On the chassis you'll find a MyDP port, which supports Micro-USB 2.0 and 1080p video-out, 3.5 mm audio, and a Nano SIM slot. The front camera shoots 2 megapixels, while on the rear is an almost obscene 13MP, f/2.0 camera that features a burst mode of 8 frames per second. It shoots 1080p MPEG4 video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps.

ASUS says the PadFone Infinity will be available in April in Taiwan and in "selected other countries from early Q2 2013" at the hefty price of 999 euros (roughly US $1,300). Sadly, there is no word of a U.S. release.

Check out ASUS's demo video:

Happy 0th Birthday Firefox OS

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 26, 2013 - 04:19 AM |
Tagged: Firefox OS, mozilla, firefox, MWC, MWC 13

Mobile World Congress is going on at Barcelona and this year sees the official entry of a new contender: Firefox OS.

Mozilla held their keynote speech the day before the official start to the trade show. If there is anything to be learned from CES, it would be that there is an arms race to announce your product before everyone else steals media attention while still being considered a part of the trade show. By the time the trade show starts, most of the big players have already said all that they need to say.

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If you have an hour to spare, you should check it out for yourself. The whole session was broadcast and recorded on Air Mozilla.

The whole concept of Firefox OS as I understand it is to open up web standards such that it is possible to create a completely functional mobile operating system from it. Specific platforms do not matter, the content will all conform to a platform of standards which anyone would be able to adopt.

I grin for a different reason: should some content exist in the future that is intrinsically valuable to society, its reliance on an open-based platform will allow future platforms to carry it.

Not a lot of people realize that iOS and Windows RT disallow alternative web browsers. Sure, Google Chrome the app exists for iOS, but it is really a re-skinned Safari. Any web browser in the Windows Store will use Trident as its rendering engine by mandate of their certification rules. This allows the platform developer to be choosey with whichever standards they wish to support. Microsoft has been very vocally against any web standard backed by Khronos. You cannot install another browser if you run across a web application requiring one of those packages.

When you have alternatives, such as Firefox OS, developers are promoted to try new things. The alternative platforms promote standards which generate these new applications and push the leaders to implement those standards too.

And so we creep ever-closer to total content separation from platform.

Source: Mozilla

A familty of Win8 powered gaming laptops from Cyberpower

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2013 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, fangbook, fangbook x200, gtx 675mx

CyberPower's Fangbook series has three models, the X7-100 for$1300, the X7-200 at $1500 and the X7-300 for $1800 with the differences lying in the graphics and storage systems, the first two use a GTX 675MX with the X7-300 using a GTX680M and you will find SSDs in both the 200 and 300.  Bjorn3D tried the X7-200, with 16GB of RAM, a 60GB boot SSD backed up by a 750GB spinning disk and a i7-3630QM.  With a 17.3" LCD this is not a small nor light laptop but at least the screen is a full 1080p and your GPU will be enough to allow you to play games at this resolution.  Gaming laptops are a very niche market, read if you are a part of it and see if this laptop will do for you what a full size or SFF desktop cannot.

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"Cyberpower is a premier high end system builder, with that they have some great options from mild to wild when it comes to system designs and options. Today we have the Fangbook X7-200 which is a new extreme gaming laptop built to make the days of being chained to a desk obsolete."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Video Perspective: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 Preview

Subject: Mobile | February 7, 2013 - 11:43 AM |
Tagged: z2760, video, Thinkpad, tablet 2, tablet, Lenovo, clovertrail, atom z2760, atom

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 just arrived at our office this week and before our full review we wanted to show our readers a quick overview on the design, features, accessories and performance of this 1.3 lbs Intel Atom Z2760 based computer.  Running a full version of Windows 8 Pro, and not the somewhat limited Windows RT found on the MS Surface and ASUS VivoTab RT, the Tablet 2 (horrible name not withstanding) looks to be a pretty interesting device for users that want x86 compatibility and mobility.

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Enjoy the video preview below!

 

Video Loading...

 

Dell Goes Private, Microsoft Loans Some Help

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 5, 2013 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: dell

Dell, dude, you're getting a Dell!

So it is official that Dell is going private. Michael Dell, CEO, as well as: Silver Lake, MSD Capital, several banks, and Dell itself will buy back stocks from investors 25% above the January 11th trading price. The whole deal would be worth $24.4 billion USD.

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Going private allows the company to make big shifts in their business without answering to investors on a quarterly basis. We can see how being a publicly traded company seems to hinder businesses after they grow beyond what a cash infusion can assist. Even Apple finds it necessary to keep an absolutely gigantic pile of cash to play with, only recently paying dividends to investors.

Also contributing to the buyback, as heavily reported, is a $2 billion USD loan from Microsoft. While it sounds like a lot in isolation, it is only just over 8% of the whole deal. All you really can pull is that it seems like Microsoft supports Dell in their decision and is putting their money where their intentions are.

Source: The Verge

BlackBerry Releases BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Smartphones With BB10 OS

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, RIM, blackberry z10, blackberry q10, blackberry, BB10

Research In Motion (RIM) is no more, but the company will live on as BlackBerry. Earlier this week, the company held a press conference where it made the name change official and introduced two new smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It was a lot to take in at the time, and it has taken me this long for me to write about it as I have been torn on how I feel about the new BlackBerry.

First up though, the phones certainly look quite good. They are rather sleek looking utilizing curved edges well. BlackBerry has designed an all-touchscreen Z10 and a smaller Q10 smartphone with physical keyboard that is has just enough Bold DNA to evoke fond memories of my first smartphone.

BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Smartphones.jpg

The Z10 features a 4.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 x 768 (356 PPI). Beneath the hood is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC clocked at 1.5 GHz along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. For expansion, the phone supports micro SD cards. It can output video over HDMI and the phone includes an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP webcam. NFC and Wi-Fi are included along with LTE support.

Customers in the UK and Canada will be getting their hands on the phone sometime this week. US residents will have to wait until springtime, however. The BlackBerry Z10 is slated for a spring 2013 US launch (around March). In the US, the black version will be available on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for $149 while a white SKU will be $199 and a Verizon exclusive (Verizon will also sell the black model, but reportedly at the higher $199 price).

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The Q10 carries the same internal hardware as the Z10 but goes with a smaller 3.1” 720 x 720 touchscreen. Beneath the screen is a physical keyboard reminiscent of the old BlackBerry Bold. Specs and pricing were more-scarce here, but it should see a US release sometime in April 2013.

Both BlackBerry smartphones run the company’s new BB10 operating system. The new OS is a complete overhaul that has several neat features. There is a new BBM client that integrated video chat and screen sharing, an app store with 70,000 launch apps, a work and home workspace separation (which will be great for BYOD workplaces), and a feature called Peek. Peek is invoked by a swipe gesture and allows you to, well, peek at a second application (such as email0 while watching a video or browsing the web. BlackBerry 10 will run multiple applications in the background and has an app switcher similar to Maemo where it displays live icons laid out in a grid. The OS also includes a camera application and editor. The camera app allows you to time-shift a bit after the photo is taken in order to find the best shot (for example, finding the shot where everyone was looking at the camera and/or not blinking). It is nice to see that rolled into a smartphone camera as it is rather useful when trying to get group shots of the family! Having the physical keyboard is sure to be a boon to many former BlackBerry users and may be the deciding factor in those users coming back to BlackBerry after leaving for Android and iOS.

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That statement does segway nicely into my worry, however. Essentially “former users” is the key phrase, and after Android and iOS have gobbled up the market I do not know that BB10 and the two new phones will be enough to win back their former users much less new customers that did not grow up using BlackBerry phones. Don’t get me wrong, the phones look really nice, and BB10 as an operating system shows promise. On the other hand, Google and Apple have a colossal head start and the majority of the market share. This is a stranglehold that even OS-juggernaut Microsoft has not been able to crack with its new Windows Phone 8 devices. BlackBerry may be able to win back the hearts of IT departments and grab some of the enterprise market, but I worry that BlackBerry took too long to put out BB10 and supporting hardware to reclaim its former glory.

I suppose I will just have to wait and see how well-received the phones are at the contract prices versus deals that are likely to be given out for Galaxy SIII phones, the Nexus 4, and previous-gen iPhones (keep in mind the Galaxy S4 is rumored to be released soon, so that would make the S3 likely to get a nice discounted on-contract price).

By all that is Brick Breaker, I hope that RIM BlackBerry finds some way to succeed. Perhaps a partnership with NVIDIA for Tegra-powered BB10 devices? After all, as Ryan mentioned on the podcast NVIDIA is in need of design wins for it's chips and BlackBerry could do with more hardware aimed at more price points.

Enough of my speculation, however. What do you think about the new BlackBerry and it's new devices?

Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Project SHIELD Development Detailed - Idea to Launch in One Year

Subject: Mobile | January 30, 2013 - 06:13 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, nvidia

A very interesting blog post by NVIDIA's Brian Caulfield tells the story of "How Project SHIELD Got Built" and you might be surprised about the timeline they were on.  In the story Caulfield details the team's move from idea to the CES release in under 12 months:

In less than a year, SHIELD has grown from an idea dreamed up by Jen-Hsun, Tony, and a handful of others into a conspiracy involving hundreds of gaming fanatics across every department at NVIDIA. “We’ve been talking on and off about building something for more than five years, maybe 10,” says Tony.

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Caulfield goes on to detail several steps in the process including design, production, the first module shown to Huang, NVIDIA CEO, and more.  After realizing that they had the hardware with Tegra 4 and the software (both GeForce Experience and the controller drivers used by games from the TegraZone store), Tony Tomasi surmised that the company should "just build a device with a great controller built in."

The first prototype, assembled in early 2012, was little more than a game controller fastened to a smartphone with wood. From that crude beginning, NVIDIA’s team of industrial designers sculpted a device that could fit in a user’s hands. No outsourcing required: NVIDIA has a team of veterans who have already shaped the look of a number of products built around NVIDIA’s processors, such as the drool-worthy GeForce GTX 690.

Unfortunately no images of that wood-clad version of the SHIELD were shared, but the idea is amusing none the less.  NVIDIA does admit that the killer feature of the device is the ability to stream PC games from a GeForce powered machine to the SHIELD remotely.

Streaming games from PCs equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 or better GPUs puts cutting-edge games on SHIELD on day one. As NVIDIA’s smart, funny marketing VP Ujesh Desai put it, when cynical gamers ask the eternal question – ‘but can it play Crysis’ – NVIDIA will have a simple answer ‘yes it does.’

And apparently some developers have been "lobbying" NVIDIA to make a console for years - a fact that I find both interesting and hilarious. 

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Overall the post is incredibly insightful, if a bit overly "marketing-ish" about the product it discusses.  With such a tight timeline on the design and build I am curious to see if NVIDIA will be able to meet the deadline of release they set during CES: Q2 2013.  Also, many lines in the blog post are obviously meant to temper the fact that NVIDIA chips will find their way into exactly zero (0) consoles this generation and it is becoming more and more obvious that SHIELD is a reaction to that fact. 

We are eager to learn more and get our hands on it again!

Source: NVIDIA

MSI's AMD powered $1200 gaming laptop, the GX60

Subject: Mobile | January 30, 2013 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: msi, gx60, gaming laptop, amd, 7970m

If you want a gaming laptop and don't want to spend $2000+ then an AMD powered machine is a really good choice, even if you are attracted to Intel's more powerful CPUs.  Not only are the graphics on the A10-4600M better than Intel's offerings, the MSI GX60 comes with a discrete 7970M GPU with 2GB of dedicated RAM.  That will beat out all but the most expensive of Intel powered gaming laptops and in certain situations will prove more powerful than even the most expensive laptops.  If you opt to have a 128GB SSD installed in the GX60 it will bring the price to about $1500, you could most likely get a 256GB SSD separately instead if you are looking to save some cash.  Check out the performance at TechSpot.

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"Most people can’t afford to spend a few thousand on a notebook computer, even if it's on a solid gaming machine that doubles as a desktop replacement. To that end, today we'll be checking out a portable from MSI that aims to deliver a solid gaming experience without the excessive cost.

The MSI GX60 comes packed with a quad-core AMD A10-4600M CPU clocked at 2.3GHz alongside AMD Radeon HD 7970M discrete graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, a 15.6-inch non-glare display operating at 1920x1080, 8GB of DDR3 memory in a 4GBx2 configuration, 128GB of flash storage used as the OS drive and a 750GB 7200RPM disk drive for storage."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: TechSpot

NVIDIA to start producing tablets and smartphones for white-labeling

Subject: Mobile | January 28, 2013 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: white label, tegra 4, tegra, tablet, shield, nvidia, cell phone

If you thought that NVIDIA's entry into the world of the mobile entertainment and gaming device market was odd with the announcement of the Shield Android-powered unit, we have some more rumors sneaking up from Droidlife.com about a possible move to develop and manufacture cell phones and tablets as well. 

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While many SoC vendors often create proof of concept designs based around their own chips, none of the major players are in the business of building devices meant to find their way into consumers hands.  NVIDIA appears to be taking a page from its own book in the world of retail graphics cards and is planning on producing nearly complete cell phones and tablets to be rebranded and sold directly to consumers.  PC users are used to this practice already and you can see if happen with ever nearly every GPU launch - graphics cards that have the same specs and design with only a different sticker on the cooler. 

The process of white labeling is very frequent in today's laptop designs as well and it is how companies like AVADirect, MAINGEAR and iBuyPower are able to produce and sell custom notebooks. 

From what is in the report, NVIDIA has their eyes set on both tablets and smartphones, with plans to start designing and creating their devices around May or June of this very year. If all goes according to plan, we will begin to see a ton of cheap (but not any less in quality terms) 7-10″ tablets hitting the market, all running NVIDIA chipsets.

If this process does take hold in the mid-2013 time frame you can start to expect a lot of low cost options based on Tegra SoCs to hit in the holiday time frame.  There are concerns to be dealt with though if in fact NVIDIA attempt the white label move.  First, there is potential for "cheap" products, and by that I mean cheaply built, ruining the Tegra name and brand that NVIDIA has been building over the last few years.  Also, NVIDIA could offend and upset other vendors like Samsung and ASUS with whom they depend on to make the "high-end" products that many enthusiasts lust over. 

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As a small player though (in terms of pure sell through) NVIDIA is looking for anyway it can to improve its market share and starting up a white label market for smartphones and tablets is definitely something that could open up new opportunities.