Lucid Dynamix adjusts mobile gaming quality in real-time

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 13, 2012 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: lucid, dynamix, ultrabook

Lucid has a history of fast product development as a software company.  It wasn't too long ago that Lucidlogix was a fabless semiconductor company that made chips for motherboards to enabled multi-GPU solutions across card models and GPU vendors.  Since then we have seen them move to GPU virtualization tasks like enabling discrete and integrated GPUs to work seamlessly without user interaction on the same notebook. 

The Lucid MVP software is the most recent version of that track and it has been very well received, find its way onto most motherboard brands and recently the Origin gaming notebook line

While huddling in San Francisco during IDF, we stopped by Lucid's suite to see what new stuff they were cooking up.  One of the products was called Dynamix and it has the goal of adjusting the image quality of games in real time to help users hit minimal gaming experience levels.  Lucid isn't adjusting the settings on your games but rather is intercepting calls from the game to the graphics solution (integrated or discrete) and altering them slightly to adjust performance.

dynamix_ui.jpg

Above you'll see the beta user interface for Dynamix that allows the user to configure it and assign which titles it should operate on.  Two sliders, one for a frame rate and one for a somewhat subjective "quality" level can be moved in order to alter the algorithms Lucid has set in the place. 

When you set the minimum frame rate, that is the "threshold" with which you would like to make sure all of your games run at.  The default was 30 FPS when I played with it and left the quality slider where it started as well.  If you start a game that does NOT run at 30 FPS with the settings you have (or maybe it won't with any settings) Lucid's software will attempt to change some quality and rendering settings completely transparently to bring the frame rate up.

In our demo we saw Crysis 2 running on a Dell Ultrabook at 1366x768 and a reported frame rate of 9 from FRAPS.  Obviously a game at that frame rate is pretty much unplayable, so when you enable the Dynamix software via a hotkey it attempts to bring up the frame rate; not by adjusting settings in the game engine but rather by changing DX calls to the GPU itself.

Examples given were that Dynamix might change the color depth requested by the game, or it might lower the texture resolutions and anti-aliasing passes.  It gradually degrades image quality until it is close to reaching your desired minimum frame rate.  When I enabled it on Crysis 2, my frame rate went from 9 to 28 or so - a sizeable difference that made the game mostly playable.

It's not magic though - there are degradations in quality that are visible.

dynamix_off.jpg

Here you can see a close up of the game running without Dynamix at work.  The quality is good but the frame rate was again at 9 FPS or so.

dynamix_on.jpg

This image shows the game after enabling Dynamix, with a frame rate of 28 or so.  You can definitely see blurrier textures, less sharpness around the gun and the foliage quality has gone done some as well. 

So why is this even interesting?  There are several reasons.  First there are some games that may not have quality settings low enough to run on an Ultrabook with HD 2500 graphics; kind of like Crysis 2.  Lucid is able to change things that the developer might not have thought of (or might not have wanted) with its access to the graphics pipeline. 

Secondly, as the name implies, the software is dynamic.  If you already running a game OVER your minimum threshold then the software will not change anything.  But if you are running in an indoor area at 40 FPS and then drop to 20 FPS when you go outdoors, the software will kick in and attempt to adjust quality to get you back up to the 30 FPS mark. 

Finally, the UI remains untouched - the informational points that were part of the game's interface were untouched so you don't have to worry about blury text or anything like that.  Lucid's capability to know about the back end of the 3D engines allows them to tweak things like this pretty easily.

Lucid says the goal is to make games that would otherwise be unplayable on a system, playable for consumers.  Without a doubt the target is Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge notebooks and the somewhat limited performance of the HD 2500 graphics system.  While this could also be applied to discrete graphics system from AMD and NVIDIA, I don't see that being necessary. 

Currently the software works with DX9 and DX10 games though they are still working to get DX11 covered completely.  And while the software worked find our demo, we only tried out one game on one notebook - there is still a lot of proving that Lucid needs to do for us to buy in completely.  If Lucid's bragging was anything to judge by though you should see Dynamix in quite a few major notebook brands later this year. 

What do YOU think?  Is this a technology you are interested in and do you see a place for it?

Lucid to Let You Plug in to Boost Your Laptop GPU?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 12, 2012 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: lucid, external graphics

Lucid looks to utilize Thunderbolt and its PCIe-format interface with external video cards. Their ideal future would allow for customers to purchase Ultrabook or other laptop device to bring around town. Upon reaching home the user could sit the laptop on their desk; plug in a high-end video card for performance; and surround their Ultrabook in other monitors.

While there are situations for acceleration hardware to be inside the device that is not necessary.

There have been numerous attempts in the past to provide a dockable graphics accelerator. ASUS, AMD, Vidock, as well as many others have attempted this feat but all had drawbacks and/or difficulty getting to market. Just prior to Intel Developer Forum, Laptop Magazine was given a demonstration from Lucid with their own attempt.

How about some Thunderbolt?

Mobile GPUs are really the only thing keeping a good laptop from being a gaming machine.

There’s good need for desktop CPUs with lots of RAM – but these days, not to game.

I have been excited each time a product manufacturer claims to have a non-proprietary method to accelerate laptop graphics. Laptops are appealing for so many purposes and it is frustrating to have devices come so close but fall so short of being a reasonable gaming machine.

The demo that Lucid showed off ran 3DMark 06 on an Intel HD 4000 with an external AMD Radeon HD 6700. On integrated graphics the gaming performance hovered just south of 30 FPS. With the Radeon HD 6700 – as expected – performance greatly increased to almost 90 FPS.

It should be much more compelling for a PC store to say “For somewhere near the price of a console, you could dock your laptop which you already own into this box when you want to game and instantly have all PC gaming and Home Theatre PC benefits.”

And it should have happened a long time ago.

Firefox OS Interface as of September 6, 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 09:02 PM |
Tagged: firefox, Firefox OS

Mozilla has released a demonstration of their mobile operating system, Firefox OS. As much as I like Mozilla and their influence on the PC industry I cannot see much reason for this operating system to exist as it stands right now.

We have reported earlier in the year on Mozilla’s push into the mobile and app store market.

Just last week as of the time of this writing we have been given a video walkthrough of current builds for Firefox OS. This is obviously a very early build of the operating system and we have no idea what the developers have planned for the platform in the future. The only position I can speak from is what I can see right now – and that is what I will do.

There’s also the whole issue of tablets…

The operating system as it currently stands looks like it could very well be a custom skin of Android. It is clear that Mozilla has put a substantial amount of work into the backend just because of how complex a mobile operating system fundamentally is. The interface could be little more than placeholder used to develop the fundamentals.

If not then it is somewhat disappointing to me. Mozilla has always had innovative hooks such as tabs or extensions to disrupt incumbent products. Apart from its legally open nature I do not really see anything yet that would differentiate the platform from its peers. Simply put, it looks like Android – and not even the most recent Android.

Hopefully we will begin to see some of the disruptive force Mozilla is known for as this operating system begins to mature. There just has to be a hook somewhere for it to gain any ground especially when it is this late to the game.

Source: Youtube

You won't be able to blame TSMC or GF for any shortage of Win8 devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: surface, win8, winRT, touch screen

DigiTimes foresees supply problems with Windows 8 mobile devices but for once it is not the fault of the CPU/GPU manufacturers.  Instead it is the feature which makes Win8 on mobile devices so much more attractive that previous versions of Microsoft's mobile OS, the Achilles heel could be the touchscreen manufacturers.  Shipping millions of new touchscreen laptops and tablets could lead to availability problems with the industry already spread among so many current touchscreen products.  Even if the supply holds up there are also concerns about demand as a touchscreen device will cost more than an equivalent laptop without a touchscreen, something that DigiTimes' sources are concerned about.

iWJkclu7ydVs.jpg

"Windows 8-based notebook shipments are expected to start increasing in September as the launch date of the operating system approaches, but because most orders are scheduled for shipping in September and October, sources from the upstream supply chain are concerned that related supply chain players will face great challenges in terms of capacity management and production smoothness."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Amazon Announces Four New Kindle Fire Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 06:24 AM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle fire hd, kindle fire, kindle, amazon

Amazon announced four new Kindle Fire tablets at a live event yesterday. Now that I’ve had time to let it all sink in, it is time to run through and compare the new offerings! Included in the new lineup are two 7” models and two 8.9” models. Further, the tablets with the new internals are differentiated with Kindle Fire HD branding whereas the updated model keeps the traditional Kindle Fire name.

7” Kindle Fire Tablets:

1. Updated Kindle Fire 7"

During the event in Santa Monica, California Amazon announced an update to the existing Kindle Fire and introduced a new “HD” version. The original Kindle Fire (which we reviewed here) packed a dual core 1GHz ARM processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. It weighed in at 14.5 ounces and was .45” thick. That hardware cost $199.

The new (updated) 7” Kindle Fire

The updated model keeps the 7” display but has a 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 processor (that Amazon claims is 40% faster), 1GB of RAM, battery life improvements, and in a surprising twist will actually cost less than the original Fire at $159. Software has also been improved for the new Kindle Fire but it is not clear if the first-generation model will also be getting an update. Once reviews start coming out, it should be more apparent what exactly has been changed (Amazon mostly focused on hardware at the event). You can expect it to be a customized version of Android that looks nothing like the stock experience, however. The updated Kindle Fire will be available September 14th for $159.

2. Kindle Fire HD 7"

The Kindle Fire HD is where the hardware starts to get interesting as the specifications have been improvement greatly versus the original $199 Kindle Fire. The new tablet measures 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches and weighs 13.9 ounces. The front of the tablet features an HD webcam and a 7" display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Interestingly, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself, which Amazon claims reduces glare by cutting down on air gaps. Powering the tablet is a OMAP 4460 SoC featuring a dual core processor running at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, and stereo speakers. Connectivity options include dual band 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi with two hardware antennas, HDMI, and a Bluetooth radio.

The 7" Kindle Fire HD will be available September 14th. The 16 GB model will cost $199 while the 32 GB model is $249. 

8.9” Kindle Fire HD Tablets:

The 8.9-inch tablet is a new form factor for Amazon, and an interesting one at that. The tablet is sits nicely between the 7" tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 and larger 10"+ tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad. It remains to be seen whether it will be successful for Amazon, but at only 20 ounces it's still fairly portable. Specific measurements are as follows: 9.45 x 6.5 x 0.35 inches. There is just a single tablet model in the 8.9" form factor, but there are two options based on that. Specifically, you will need to choose between a Wi-Fi only tablet and a tablet that can connect to both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular networks.

The 8.9" Kindle Fire HD features an 8.9" display with resolution of 1920x1200. Further, like the 7" model, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself to reduce glare. Above the display is an HD webcam. Connectivity options on the base Wi-Fi only model include HDMI, Bluetooth, and dual band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with dual antennas. The 4G version further adds a cellular modem. 

Kindle Fire HD 8.jpg

Internally, the Kindle Fire HD is powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 SoC running at 1.5 GHz and 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is either 16 GB or 32 GB for the Wi-Fi model and 32 GB or 64 GB in the 4G Kindle Fire HD. Any amazon purchased content can be stored on your Amazon Cloud Drive as well.

Both the Wi-Fi and 4G tablets will be available on November 20th, and are available for pre-order now.

The Wi-Fi model will cost $299 for 16 GB or $369 for 32 GB.

The 4G model gets a bit more complicated, thanks to the cellular modem. In basic terms, the 32 GB version will cost $499 and the 64 GB version will cost $599. With purchase, you get a $10 Amazon Appstore credit and 20 GB of Amazon Cloud Drive storage. On the data plan front, for $50 a year, Amazon will provide you with 250 MB per month of data usage over the cellular connection. It's not much, but it is still a pretty good deal if you are around Wi-Fi most of the time and/or plan to only use the Fire to read books and listen to music on. The bad news is that if you do happen to go over that 250 MB limit, you'll be subject to AT&T's going rate for the next tier of data. IE, expect to pay about $30 if you go over (ouch!).

On TWICH, Ryan brought up the Kindle Fire HD and mentioned the big price difference between the 4G and Wi-Fi only model. You are looking at about $250 extra from the 4G model, and the addition of the cellular radio definitely does not cost Amazon that much per tablet to integrate. One likely reason is that Amazon is subsidizing part (or all) of the data plan (the cost above the $50 it is charging customers) with the increased cost of the hardware. (Sort of the opposite of the traditional cell phone subsidizing arrangement where the contract subsidizes the hardware). You will just have to determine if the 4G modem is worth the cost increase or not.

Opt out of ads for $15, information on charging

Speaking of cutting costs, Amazon has done two things to reduce the price of its Kindle Fire tablets. For one, all Kindle Fire tablets will come with Kindle Special Offer ads turned on. These are deals and ads that display on the home screen and lock screen of your Kindle (and in my experience are not very intrusive). If you want an ad-free experience, you can opt out by paying a one-time $15 fee – which essentially amounts to you paying the full cost of the hardware versus the ad-subsidized cost. 

The other cost cutting measure is that the company is not bundling a wall charger with any of the tablets. You can purchase the Kindle PowerFast for Accelerated Charging wall charger for $9.99 if you buy it at the same time as you purchase the tablet, but is $19.99 if purchased separately. Note that a wall charger is not required, as you can charge the Kindle over USB connected to a computer or cell phone charger – it does not necessarily have to be the expensive Amazon charger.

Lastly, all of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are running a customized version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately, I would not expect an update to Jelly Bean any time soon. The biggest question i have is whether or not the original Kindle Fire will get the same software update as the new tablets are coming out with. It is difficult to comment on any specific improvements as Amazon primarily focused on hardware at the event. Once reviewers get hands on with the tablets, more information should become available. I'm looking forward to trying out the tablets once they show up as demos at retail to see how well the UI runs on the updated hardware.

If you are interested in one of the new Kindle Fire tablets, I highly recommend checking out the handy comparison chart on the bottom of any Kindle Fire product pages as it puts all the specifications in a simple table.

What do you think about the new Amazon tablets, will you be picking one up or sticking with the Nexus 7?

Source: Amazon

Samsung Unveils ATIV S WP8 Smartphone at IFA 2012

Subject: Mobile | September 6, 2012 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8, Samsung, microsoft, ifa, ativ s

Tablets and ultrabooks are not the only devices Samsung is unveiling at IFA 2012. The company also showed off its first Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the ATIV S.

Featuring a brushed aluminum chassis, the ATIV S is 8.7mm thin and weights 135 grams (just under 0.3 pounds). It is approximately 5.4” tall and 2.8” wide at 137.2mm x 70.5mm. The front of the smartphone features a large 4.8” HD Super AMOLED touchscreen display covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Below the display is a slightly raised physical Windows button along with capacitive back and search buttons on either side. Above the display is a 1.9MP webcam and aluminum speaker grill. On the rear of the ATIV S is an 8MP autofocus camera, rear aluminum speaker bar, and a compartment that holds a 2300 mAh battery.

Samsung ATIV S.jpg

Inside the smartphone running Windows Phone 8 is a 1.5 GHz dual core ARM SoC, 1GB of RAM, and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The ATIV S also includes a microSD card slot. According to the Windows Team Blog, the ATIV S is noticeably thinner than Samsung’s other Windows Phone (7) smartphones. On the other hand, the phone is wider and taller, so it is less pocket-able. Thanks to the slightly curved edges of the phone, it is easy to hold and use with one hand despite the larger form factor (I’m sure Josh is making a joke for the podcast as we speak).

Samsung ATIV S_back.jpg

Overall, it looks like Samsung has put a lot of work into its new ATIV S Windows Phone 8 smartphone. While I’ve been intrigued with the Windows Phone mobile OS for a while now, I have not found a phone running it that I like; Nokia is great and all but the Nokia 920’s design just isn’t my thing. Personally, I think the ATIV S might be the perfect replacement for my Samsung Infuse 4G. You can see more photos of the ATIV S over at the Windows Team Blog.

Read more about Windows Phone 8 at PC Perspective.

Amazon Announces New Kindle Paperwhite with Upgraded Display

Subject: Mobile | September 6, 2012 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: whispersync, paperwhite, kindle, amazon

Amazon announced at a live event today that its popular Kindle e-reader is getting an upgrade. The most significant upgrade is a new display which has a higher resolution and is (front) lit. As a result of the new display, Amazon is calling the new Kindle e-reader the Kindle Paperwhite, suggesting that the e-ink display is now closer than ever to replicating actual paper (though without the new book smell).

Amaon Kindle Paperwhite Lineup.jpg

The new Kindle Paperwhite comes in two versions, one with free (whispersync) 3G and the other with only Wi-Fi. The physical keyboard is replaced with a touchscreen (like the Kindle Touch) and the e-reader is now 9.1mm thick and 7.5 ounces (a bit under half a pound). The Verge quoted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in saying the Kindle Paperwhite is "thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback." Further, the display panel has a stated 62% more pixels than its predecessor, with 212 pixels per inch (PPI). Due to the nature of e-ink, Amazon had to get creative with the lighting and had to place the lighting element above the display (e-ink is reflective). This new “Light Guide” is a thin layer of material that takes light produced by LEDs along the edges of the display and spreads it over the entire display. Doing this allows Amazon to maintain the thin form factor and make the e-reader useable in more environments (readable in bed, or outside on a clear day, for example).

Software improvements allow the Kindle to start up in 60 seconds, 15% faster page turns, and free storage in Amazon’s Cloud Drive. In addition, the Kindle Paperwhite supports showing book covers in your library, (reading) time remaining in book chapters, and X-Ray reference material technology. According to Amazon, the Kindle Paperwhite’s battery has also been improved, allowing up to 8 weeks between charges (I’m assuming that includes stand-by time, not just when active/reading).

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite_Light Guide.jpg

The new Light Guide used to light up the Kindle Paperwhite's display.

Both Kindle Paperwhite e-readers will be available on October 1st, 2012. The 3G model will cost $179 while the Wi-Fi model will cost $119. Amazon is currently taking pre-orders for the devices, as well.

Meanwhile, the current Kindle e-reader is going to continue to be available – and is getting a nice price cut. At a new price of $69, I expect it to sell like Honey Buns (forget hotcakes). That is a price that is definitely impulse buy territory, and also makes it easy to give as a gift. I expect that it would also make a good device to give to kids to try to get them interested in reading. At $69, it won’t be as big of a deal if they break it (heh).

What do you think about the new Paperwhite Kindles? I’m interested to see one of the displays in person, to see if it lives up to the claims of replicating the look of paper. You can find more photos of the new Kindle over at The Verge's live blog of the event.

Source: The Verge

Lenovo Launches New Ivy Bridge Powered Budget Laptops

Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2012 - 03:06 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, s405, s400, s300, Lenovo, laptop, Ivy Bridge, core i5, budget, amd, a8

Tablets and ultrabooks have stolen the IFA 2012 show, but the hardware – while nice to look at – is not for everyone, especially for the price. It seems that Lenovo has the budget showings covered by announcing three budget laptops that offer up some decent specifications.

Lenovo has added three new laptops to its Ideapad S series, and the specifications of the new models are vastly improved versus the current netbook-class S-series models. The new additions are the S300, S400, and S405, and all three are packing the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD respectively.

Lenovo Ideapad S300 Silver Gray.jpg

All three of the laptops feature a display resolution of 1366x768, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad with gesture support, 720p webcam, and a "tactile metal finish" for the laptop lid that comes in silver, pink, or red colors. External ports include an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and power jack on the right side and a USB 3.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and recovery button on the left. They are all expected to provide around four hours of battery life, and the laptops weigh in at 3.97 pounds and are 0.86" thick. All three models will come with Windows 7, but will eligible for the $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

According to the press release, all three models will have cotton candy pink, red, and silver-gray lid color options in a "tactile" metal finish, though only the S300 has been spotted in the wild with the pink lid.

Lenovo Ideapad S400 Black.jpg

The S300 has a 13.3" screen while the S400 and S405 have 14" screens, but they share the same chassis, which means that the S300 will have a slightly bigger bezel but otherwise will be the same as the higher-end models on the outside.

S300.jpg

On the inside, the S300 is powered by an Intel ultra low voltage (ULV) Core i3 or Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor, a 500GB mechanical hard drive, up to 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. Other features include Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio v2.

The S400 follows that exact same pattern: Intel ULV Core i3/i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 500GB spinning platter hard drive, 4GB of RAM, optional AMD Radeon 7450M GPU, WiDi, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and WiDi support. The differences include a larger 14" LED backlit display (at that same 1366x768 resolution, unfortunately) and an optional 32GB SSD.

S400.jpg

The S400 comes in two different lid color options: a black interior and red lid, or a black interior with silver lid.

The S405 breaks the mold by replacing the Intel Ivy Bridge processor for an AMD A8 Trinity APU. It can also have up to 1TB of mechanical hard drive storage, 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M. Alternatively, it can be upgraded to a 32GB SSD. It features the same LED backlit 14" display and red/black or silver/black color scheme as the S400. The WiDi option does not appear to be included with the Ideapad S405 (which would make sense), but otherwise it is essentially the S400 without the Intel CPU/iGPU.

All three notebooks will be available later this month in the US, and the starting price is $499. The new Lenovo Ideapads make up a nice middle ground between expensive thin-and-light ultrabooks and low cost tablet+keyboard combinations. The quality of the keyboard and trackpad are really going to make or break the new S-series notebooks, because if they manage to pull off a good typing experience these could be some decent travel companions for people that need a productivity machine with a bit of "oomph" thanks to the Intel i5 or AMD Trinity APU. On the other hand, if the keyboard is crappy, the middle ground budget notebooks will really miss the entire point and road warriors will need to look elsewhere. Be on the lookout for reviews on these S-series Lenovo notebooks, as they look interesting for the money (if you are in the position of looking for a budget workhorse machine/one that would not be as terrible to lose on a trip, et al).

What do you think about the new budget Lenovo laptops?

Read more about IFA 2012.

Source: Lenovo

Samsung Shows Off Ultrabook With 2560x1440 Display at IFA

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 09:50 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Series 9, Samsung, retina display, prototype, ifa

The Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) 2012 electronics show in Berlin has seen numerous Windows 8 tablets, but those are not the only mobile devices on the show floor. Samsung is at the event with its lineup of Series 9 Ultrabooks, for example.

The most interesting model is a prototype (engineering sample) Series 9 ultrabook that sports a WQHD display. That’s right, the 11.6” and 13.3” ultrabooks have displays with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels! The new display has a pixels-per-inch (PPI) rating of 220.84, which is a major improvement over the current 13” Series 9 ultrabook’s 1600x900, 138.03 PPI display. The new prototype Series 9 has a total display resolution lower than the 2880x1800 “Retina” display in the 15” Macbook Pro, but due to its overall smaller size at 13,” the PPI is comparable. In fact, it is ever-so-slightly higher at 220.84 PPI versus 220.53 for the Apple Macbook Pro. In addition, the Series 9 display features a matte finish, which is something road warriors will appreciate.

Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook.jpg

Image credit: Engadget.

It seems that – except for the new higher resolution display – the prototype spotted by Engadget at IFA is exactly the same as the latest Ivy Bridge-powered Series 9 ultrabook. It features a full QWERTY keyboard and click-able multitouch trackpad. The right side of the Samsung ultrabook includes a microphone, HDMI output, combination headphone/microphone jack, and a USB 2.0 port. There is also a covered slot for a full-size SD card on the underside of the chassis. On the left side of the ultrabook is a power jack, USB 3.0 port, micro-HDMI port, and micro RJ45 Ethernet port.

Powering the Series 9 prototype is likely an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, at least 4GB of RAM and an SSD. Further, the computer comes loaded with Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system. Beyond that, it is impossible to know the exact parts being used as Samsung isn’t ready to unleash this notebook yet. Unfortunately, that also means that pricing and availability are also not known.

With rumors that Apple is working on a new 13” Macbook Pro with “retina” display of its own, one possibility is that the prototype Series 9 is just that – a prototype (and proof of concept) – from which the company will sell the panels to Apple for its Macbook while not coming out with its own high resolution ultrabook. On the other hand, Samsung may be pursuing this and trying to beat Apple to market with a smaller notebook packing a comparible display to Apple's current Macbook Pro.

Personally, I’m rooting for the Series 9 with 2560x1440 display to at least come to market even if the panels also end up in Macbooks (though with Samsung’s luck that would just give Apple yet another device to attempt to get an injunction on….).

Either way, the concept is certainly promising, and here’s hoping that it inspires other OEMs to step up their ultrabook designs by using higher resolution displays!

Below is a hands on video by Mat Smith over at Engadget. For more information, you can find our Series 9 review as well as an editorial on the "Retina Macbook Pro from a PC Perspective" (see what we did there?).

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IFA 2012 coverage!

Source: Engadget

ASUS Shows Off Vivo Windows 8 and Windows RT Tablets At IFA 2012

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 rt, windows 8, tablet 810, tablet 600, microsoft, ifa 2012, ifa, asus vivo, asus

During Computex 2012 in June, ASUS showed off two new tablet computers that at the time were labeled the ASUS Tablet 810 and Tablet 600 respectively. At the company’s booth, they had both models on display and released some basic specifications on the machines. It seems that the two Windows 8 tablets are closer to launch as they now have official names and what appears to be final specs.

The ASUS Tablet 810 and 600 are now part of the company’s Vivo series and will be named the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT at launch. We now know the final specifications, but pricing is still up in the air. On or around October 26, 2012 would be a good guess as far as when they will be available for purchase as several other tablet launches are set to coincide with the official launch of Windows 8.

In many respects, the two Vivo tabs are Transformer tablets – only running Windows 8 instead of Android. The two Vivo tabs are touchscreen-enabled tablets with a dockable keyboard that turns in into a laptop.

Here's what is official so far on the two new Vivo tablets.

ASUS Vivo Tab

Formerly known as the ASUS Tablet 810, the Vivo Tab is an 11" tablet measuring 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. It features an 11.6" SuperIPS+ display at 1366x768 resolution as well as an 8 MP rear camera with LED flash and autofocus, and a 2 MP webcam on the front. On the inside is an Intel Atom (Clover Trail) processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC internal memory. For those enticed by styluses (styli?), the Vivo Tab has you covered as well with a Wacom digitizer offering up to 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. 

The Vivo Tab can further be docked with a keyboard. The keyboard is similar to the one used by the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer due to offering up a full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, USB port, and second battery that adds some additional life to the Vivo Tab. The Vivo Tab will run Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system and will be able to access both the traditional desktop applications as well as Modern UI/Metro UI/Windows 8-Style UI/Whatever-it-is-called-this-week UI apps via the Windows Store thanks to its x86 architecture. Other features include Wi-Fi, NFC, and SonicMaster audio. If I had to guess, I would estimate it to cost between $100 and $200 more than the Transformer Prime (ie priced around $550). Compared to the recently announced Transformer Infinity, it should be about $70 more since the Infinity is priced at $488 on Amazon at time of writing. Granted, the atom architecture is not going to cost $200 more to implement, but that – in addition to a Windows license – will likely add up to a bit of a premium over the Android-powered Transformer line.

ASUS Vivo Tab RT

The ASUS Vivo Tab RT is a 10" tablet that is 8.3mm thick and weights 520 grams – a bit smaller (and lighter) than the Vivo Tab and Transformer. The Vivo Tab RT is even closer to the Eee Pad Transformer due to its Tegra 3 underpinnings (Tegra 3 "4+1" core processor+12 core GPU). On the other hand, the Vivo Tab RT has a total of 2GB of RAM (the Transformer has only 1GB) and 32GB of internal storage. It will run the ARM version of Windows 8 called Windows RT, and will have access to Metro apps as well as the full Microsoft Office. However, other traditional desktop applications will not run on the ARM-powered tablet. On the outside, the Vivo Tab RT features a 10.1" SuperIPS+ touchscreen display with resolution of 1366x768, an 8MP rear camera (with LED flash and autofocus), and a 2MP webcam on the front of the device. It also supports SonicMaster-powered audio.

Asus Vivo Windows 8 Tablet.jpg

The Vivo Tab does not have the Wacom digitizer of its larger Vivo Tab relative, but it does feature a similar keyboard dock. The docks packs an additional battery, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, and USB port. While the Vivo Tab's (Tablet 810) keyboard dock is silver with black keys, the Vivo Tab RT's keyboard dock is all black and slightly smaller to match the width of the 10" tablet. I would expect this one to be priced more in line with the latest Transformer tablet with a small premium for the Windows license due to being very similar hardware specifications-wise.

The table below shows the specifications of the Vivo Tab, Vivo Tab RT, and the Transformer Prime which represent the latest ASUS has to offer in the dockable tablet department.

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

As the chart above illustrates, the Vivo Tabs are an improvement in almost every respect versus the Android-powered Transformer Prime in boasting more memory, better cameras – and in the Vivo Tab's case – being thinner and lighter. On the other hand, the Transformer Prime offers up a 1280x800 resolution panel such that when it is in laptop mode you will have a bit more vertical space. Further, the recently launched ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity has the best display of the bunch with 1920x1200 resolution. As far as weight, it fits between the Vivo Tab RT and Vivo Tab while being closer in physcial dimensions to the Vivo Tab RT. The Infinity's only negative versus the Windows 8 tablets specifications-wise is memory as it has only 1GB of DDR3L RAM, though it should not be a huge performance hit.

Further, the Transformers should be cheaper than the Windows-powered tablets. I do think that there is a place for both Android and Windows 8 tablets, and ASUS seems to believe that as well. Price is likely going to be the deciding factor for many, so I am anxious to learn just how much the Vivo-series tablets are going to cost.

Have you been eyeing a Windows 8 tablet, and if so which one? Are you holding out for the Microsoft Surface?

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Windows RT tablet coverage!

Continue reading to see videos of the Vivo tablets in action!

Source: Engadget

Has Microsoft Given the PC to Xboxers on a Silver Platter?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 02:20 AM |
Tagged: consolitis, windows 8

Microsoft has announced that 40 Xbox Live games will ship for Windows 8 PC, laptops, and tablets on its October 26th launch date. Microsoft also continues to misunderstand why Games for Windows Live failed in the first place.

Xbox has all but become the quasi-official branding for Microsoft’s gaming initiatives.

Microsoft suffered a substantial black-eye from their Games for Windows Live initiative. While the service does not live up to its anti-hype it does illustrate how Microsoft lost their PC gaming audience: gamers who do not choose a console do not want a console. PC gamers might wish for a cheaper experience due to the lack of license fees; they might prefer the mouse and keyboard; or they might wish to play games for longer than a console lifecycle.

If they pass up your console platform – hand delivering it on a silver platter will still be a decline gesture.

gfwl.png

Shattered Windows.

This time it seems more like Microsoft has given up trying to appease PC gamers. Rather than trying to satisfy the needs of the PC gaming audience (Seriously! It’s not that hard.) Microsoft would prefer to hand the PC gaming market to the console crowd and hope that they find some value to the platform.

This move seems just as risky to me as simply keeping PC gamers satisfied. The console model is designed around squirreling away as many license fees as you can possibly hide to appear less costly than the PC alternative – without actually being cheaper of course since otherwise who would pay the extra middleman? There is a lot of risk in transitioning to a new platform and they are betting their PC stronghold in the intersection between Apple fans and people who lock themselves in against PC gaming.

Or maybe the platter is served by Gabe Newell… dressed with a Tux.

IFA: Dell Unveils Two XPS Tablets, One All-In-One System Running Windows RT and Windows 8

Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2012 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, xps 10 tablet, windows rt, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, ifa, dell, convertible tablet, all-in-one

The IFA 2012 (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) electronics show is in full swing today and will be a week-long event where we should see several new product announcements similar in form to CES and Computex. That means photos, videos, and hands-on time with lots of new and shiny hardware. Earlier this week, ASUS announced two new tablets, and now Dell is jumping into the fray with three new XPS computers running Windows 8!

Dell is set up with displays at this years IFA 2012 conference where it is showing off several new systems running Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. The company is preparing offerings on all fronts with a tablet, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop running Microsoft's upcoming operating system: the XPS 10 tablet, XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook, and the XPS One 27 All-In-One (AIO) PC respectively.

The Dell XPS 10 is a new tablet that resembles the Asus Transformer due to its dock-able nature. The tablet will be powered by an ARM processor and will run the accompanying Windows RT version of Windows 8. The 10" tablet has rounded corners along with a glossy black front and silver-colored trim around the bezel. The only physical button on the face of the device is the Windows Start button. It can be docked with a keyboard and trackpad combo to turn the tablet into a portable laptop as well.

IFA - XPS 10.jpg

Alternatively, the XPS Duo 12 steps up the build quality and specifications and packs it into a convertible tablet. While it will need to be tested independently to determine how well it's built, the materials Dell is using are a step up from the XPS 10 as the Duo 12 is constructed using machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Not too shabby for an ultraportable! Unfortunately, there are no specifications on the internal hardware, but you can expect it to be running an AMD or Intel-based x86-64 CPU as this convertible tablet is running Windows 8. On the outside, Dell has stated that the display will have a resolution of 1920x1080.

XPS Duo 12 convertible Ultrabook with Windows 8.jpg

The company has gone an interesting direction to make the Duo 12 a convertible laptop. Instead of turning the laptop lid around a vertical axis like the Dell Latitude XT (yes, I'm overdue for a laptop upgrade heh), the Duo 12 has a traditional laptop lid and horizontal hinge. Instead of swiveling the entire lid, the Duo 12 only flips around the display itself. It is not a completely new design, but it is relatively rare compared to the much more popular Transformer-style docks. Assuming it's solidly built, I think this design is actually superior than the company's other convertible offerings as the hinge should be much stronger and the display should be less wobbly when typing.

XPS One 27 All-in-One desktop with Windows 8.jpg

The XPS Duo 12 further features an integrated keyboard and trackpad along with at least two USB ports and an SD card reader. The keys do not look like they have much, if any, travel but otherwise it looks like a really neat machine (I'm also biased in favor of convertible tablets though... yeah I'm one of "those" geeks hehe). The biggest question in my mind about this tablet is pricing, however. If Dell prices it in like with the similarly spec'd Surface, I think it would sell fairly well. On the other hand, if they go the opposite route and price it at a couple thousand as a premium convertible tablet, I do not see it doing well against ultrabooks and Microsoft's upcoming Surface.

Finally, Dell showed off an updated version of its 27" All-In-One desktop PC that will come equipped with a touchscreen. As an update to the currently available XPS 27 AIO, the new model will add a touchscreen panel to the 2560x1440 IPS "Wide Quad HD" (whatever that is heh) panel. You can also expect the computer to be powered by third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processors, up to 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive storage along with a 32GB solid state drive. The system will run the x64 version of Windows 8 and you can expect it to cost around (but a bit more than) the current XPS 27 AIO thanks to the addition of the touchscreen input device. For reference, current (non-touchscreen) XPS 27 models range from $1,399.99 to $1,899.99 USD.

I think that Dell is off to a good start with Windows 8 support. Nothing mind-blowing but they still look like interesting additions and updates to the company's product lineup. The biggest factor in me being personally interested in these machines is the price, and unfortunately Dell has not yet released that bit of information. Dell has stated that they will be available once Windows 8 launches, which is October 26th

What do you think of Dell's Windows 8 PC offerings?

Dell has made the full press release available on its website, and you can see more photos of the new Windows 8 XPS computers after the break!

Read more about ARM-powered Windows 8 RT devices on PC Perspective.

Source: Dell

Is Samsung's Galaxy S III really the best Android out there?

Subject: Mobile | August 30, 2012 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s III, Android

Android 4.1, aka Jellybean, is not yet available for the Samsung Galaxy S III, so The Tech Report tested out Samsung's existing TouchWiz software and UI tweaks to the current Android OS present on the phone.  They liked that a lot of the special functions available on the phone were controlled with the body as opposed to swiping motions on the screen, as you wouldn't want to smear that 720p screen.  They did run into some quirks with the phone which they were less than impressed with as well as the history Samsung has of delaying the release of updated operating systems.  That is probably why they ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Androids-red-dwarf-1695881-500-400.jpg

"Samsung's Galaxy S III is the hottest Android handset on the market right now. We spent a few weeks with one to see what it's like."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Wireless Charging Technology – One Step Closer to Reality

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 07:44 PM |
Tagged: wireless power, wireless charging, wireless, Intel, Integrated Device Technology, charging

The wireless transfer of power, in order to recharge your mobile devices has been something that has fascinated the staff at PC Perspective for a while now.  You can get toothbrushes which charge via inductance and even as far back as 2010 there were projects underway to allow cellphones to recharge without needing a wire and more importantly without needing the correct plug!  More recently, the Wireless Power Consortium was a presenter at CES 2012, where they showed Matt their Qi, a coil-based charging solution capable of delivering up to 5W at a distance of 5mm, not enough to charge your phone in pocket but certainly reasonable for a charging mat.  They are working on a 10W model and hope to extend it up to 120W which would be enough to power a low end PC.  

Today Intel released information on their long standing wireless power technology and their new development partner, Integrated Device Technology, Inc.  They intend to develop this technology on chipsets, so that a cellphone placed next to an Ultrabook would begin to wirelessly recharge without input from you.  One assumes that this would not apply to a system running off of a critical battery, though the idea of being able to drain power from an unsuspecting user could lead to some interesting pranks.   Check the full release below.

Picture2-300x204.jpg

Even Captain Kirk would have raised an eyebrow at the prospect of wireless charging on board the Enterprise, and he probably would have given Scotty a raise! But today it’s a step closer to reality for all of us not zipping around the universe at warp speed. Demoed by Intel Labs for the first time way back in 2008, Wireless Charging Technology (WCT) by Intel literally lets you charge your smartphone wirelessly from your notebook PC. That’s right — no cables, no power cords. Of course Intel is no stranger to wireless technologies, launching Centrino mobile technology nearly a decade ago. Imagine a coffee shop without Wifi today?

Today Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) – a technology company with specialized expertise in wireless charging - announced it will develop and deliver chipsets for Wireless Charging Technology by Intel. IDT’s product is important and new because it leads to a solution that isn’t limited to inductive charging and ‘smartphone on a charging mat’ usage. Size and cost reductions are key to IDT’s solution, as is their differentiated “resonance wireless charging technology” that simplifies the way the PC charges the phone wirelessly. Intel is working with companies like IDT, peripheral vendors (from smartphone cases to printers and cameras), OEMs, and other ecosystem partners to deliver a cost-effective and simpler path to wireless charging.

Although we are not yet giving out timeframes for consumer products with WCT enabled, IDT has stated they will be delivering their full chipset solution for reference design work in early 2013. The ecosystem is already excited about this technology so we assume there will be a race to the finish line for sure.

Imagine, for example, this wireless charging solution in an Ultrabook of the future. How would it work? You are low on juice on your phone — you simply start the WCT detection software and place the smartphone close to your Ultrabook (about an inch or so). Coupling takes place between the two devices and energy begins to seamlessly and wirelessly flow from the Ultrabook to the smartphone. Within an hour, you have recharged your smartphone sufficiently to make it through the afternoon. No more wires or chargers.

Intel will be discussing specific plans and timelines at a later date, so stay tuned for more details on this innovation that’s one step closer from the labs to your home.

 

Source: Intel

NVIDIA Shows Unreal Engine 3 Running On Windows RT Tablet

Subject: Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, gaming

One of the reasons why I have hope for Windows RT is its gaming potential. Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with its gaming projects, but when it succeeds, it really knocks it out of the park – see DirectX, the Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s digital distribution via its console. Bringing Windows to tablets could make life easier for game developers in that space and offer a wider selection of mature titles rather than mobile-focused games, which often (in my opinion) feel watered down and look underwhelming.  

NVIDIA showcased this potential at IFA 2012 by demonstrating a Windows RT tablet (with Tegra 3 hardware, of course) running Unreal Engine 3. The tablet is shown playing the NVIDIA “Epic Citiadel” demo which we saw at the editor’s day conference used to debut the GTX 680 earlier this year. Quality details are probably reduced compared to the version that ran on the GTX 680 (it’s hard to tell in the video) but it still looks excellent and runs smoothly.

 


 

The demonstration highlighted the fact this isn’t some one-off or stripped-down version of the engine designed only for mobile devices. It’s a port of the existing Unreal Engine 3 engine used to make Windows PC games, which means developers shipping games that use UE3 should have minimal trouble porting their game to a Windows 8 RT tablet. Mark Rein, president of Epic Games, stated that Windows 8 RT code is now available to UE3 licenesees. It’ll be interesting to see which game developer is first to jump on board.

The tablet in the video is an ASUS Vivo Tab RT, an upcoming Windows 8 RT tablet with an 11.6” IPS display with 1366x768 resolution and a Tegra 3 SoC.  A tablet like this could be a compelling mobile gaming device if the games become available. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Source: NVIDIA

Nokia Rumored To Be Releasing Two Windows Phone 8 Smartphones On September 5, 2012

Subject: Mobile | August 24, 2012 - 06:41 AM |
Tagged: windows phone 8, smartphone, nokia, microsoft

While Windows 8 on the desktop (and ARM devices) have occupied much of the spotlight for Microsoft’s products, it is not the only Windows 8 product coming out soon. Namely, the mobile variant that is Windows Phone 8 is set to officially release later this year. In line with, and suggesting a release day, the launch are leaked details on two Nokia smartphones that will run the next-generation Microsoft mobile operating system.

According to sources in the know, Nokia is planning to launch two new smartphones under its Lumia brand during a media event in NYC on September 5th 2012. As the event will see both Nokia and Microsoft on stage, the September 5th date seems very likely to be the official Windows Phone 8 debut. On the Nokia side of things specifically, the company plans to launch both a mid-range handset as well as the Windows Phone 8 flagship smartphone. The Nokia mobile devices are currently known by their code names of “Arrow” and “Phi” respectively. While specifications on the mid-range handset are unknown, the flagship Phi smartphone will reportedly feature similar design aesthetics to the company’s other Lumia-series smartphones–including a curved glass display and polycarbonate body.

The Phi will be an AT&T exclusive device while the Arrow will be available on both AT&T and T-Mobile. Interestingly, if the rumors hold true Verizon will not have a launch WP8 device. It will see a tweaked version of the mid-range Arrow codenamed Atlas but it is not going to launch with the other two Nokia devices.

Windows Phone 8 Start Screen.jpg

Image credit: CNET.

Windows Phone 8 improves on hardware support, adds features, and tweaks the software interface to be more user friendly. Some of the more interesting new features include a shared codebase with Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 (x86-64) where only minor tweaks will be necessary to deploy “Metro” Modern UI apps to phones, tablets, and desktops.  Further, hardware requirements have been upgraded to support 720p or 1280x768 (WXGA) displays, NFC (Near Field Communication. Think RFID but at shorter distances (and some other differences)), multi-core processors, and the inclusion of SD card slots.

On the software side of things, Windows Phone 8 will integrate the licensed map technology from Nokia and will feature a new Start Screen that allows changing tile size (small, medium, large) and ditches the navigational cue arrow. Nokia does seem to have some decent map technology from what I've used of it, so I'm glad Microsoft is taking advantage of the close relationship between itself and Nokia to get a licensing agreement going (and here's hoping Nokia is making some money off of it, they could always use the boost).

Unfortunately there is no pricing information or clues as to whether the two smartphones will actually be purchasable on announcement day. I guess we will all find out on September 5th!

In spite of the controversy surrounding the Modern UI on the desktop, Windows Phone 8 is looking to be a solid improvement over WP7 and it seems that Microsoft is moving in the right direction. Questions remain on whether or not it will be enough to take on the Google Android and Apple IOS juggernauts, however. Tizen and Firefox OS are going to have a harder time breaking into the market thanks to WP8, however.

That’s just my opinion and bit of speculation, however. What do you think? Will Nokia and Microsoft see better sales and increased adoption with Windows Phone 8 and Nokia’s second try at a smartphone running Microsoft’s OS? Will you be considering an upgrade or switch over to WP8?

Read more Windows Phone coverage using the Windows Phone 8 tag.

Source: The Verge

Synaptics Announces New TouchPads And Keyboards

Subject: Mobile | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 AM |
Tagged: touchpad, synaptics, notebook, laptop, keyboard

forcepad.jpg

The march towards thinner laptops has challenged computer manufacturers in a number of ways. When designing a laptop that’s just three-quarters of an inch thin or thinner, everything matters. Even the size of thickness of a keyboard or touchpad makes a big difference.

Synaptics is responding to these design realities with the introduction of new user interfaces. One is the ForcePad, a new type of touchpad that is capable of measuring the precise amount of force the user inputs. This makes it possible to drop physical left/right mouse buttons entirely, reducing maximum thickness from 5mm to 3mm. It also provides additional input which can be harnessed by software for precise control.

The company is also introducing a new keyboard design called ThinTouch. This keyboard redesigns (or rather, eliminates) the keyboard switch to reduce overall thickness by 30 to 50 percent without sacrificing an optional backlight. The keyboard is also force sensitive, which means that users can activate alternate characters by pressing harder instead of using the Shift key.

thintouch.jpg

Both new technologies are interesting, though also potentially problematic. Of concern is the lack of key travel in the ThinTouch design, which is evident in the picture above. There’s little movement in the key, which makes me wonder what typing on this keyboard is like. I’d wager it’s not the best experience. I find it very odd that a company responsible for designing user interface elements for a laptop would seek to reduce one of the laptop’s most noticeable advantages over a tablet – a tactile keyboard.

With that said, I'm sure these devices will make their way to ultrabooks in short order. Reducing the size of the keyboard and touchpad will allow for a larger battery and/or better cooling. The battery life increase will be of particular use to OEMs, who see battery life as a nice, easy figure that can be used in marketing materials. A better battery can be explained with a handful of words. Explaining a better keyboard takes more time.

No release dates or launch products have been detailed yet. We'll probably hear more at CES 2013.

Source: Synaptics

ARM-A9 SOC showdown, Tegra 3 versus ODROID-X

Subject: Mobile | August 21, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, Samsung, nvidia, Exynos 4412, cortex-a9, arm

The participants in this System on a Chip showdown both bear long names, on one side is NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC and on the other the ODROID-X Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9.  NVIDIA's offering is well known by now but the ODROID-X is a relative newcomer to the market, offering their product for about $130.  After setting up Linux on these systems Phoronix got to benchmarking and the results will surprise NVIDIA fans as the ARM based system actually came out on top on quite a few of the tests.

ph_odroidx.jpg

"While not as popular as NVIDIA's Tegra 3 ARM SoC, the Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 found on cheaply priced ODROID-X can actually outperform the quad-core NVIDIA ARM processor. Here are benchmarks of the $129 USD ODROID-X benchmarked against the NVIDIA Tegra 3 reference tablet and a PandaBoard ES running the Texas Instruments OMAP4460."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Phoronix

Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Readers (Tablet, Color) Receive Price Cuts

Subject: Mobile | August 13, 2012 - 03:44 AM |
Tagged: tablet, price cuts, nook tablet, nook

The Nook Tablet is bookseller Barnes & Noble’s answer to the Amazon and Kindle Fire combination. Running a 1GHz TI OMAP 4 dual core processor and 1GB of system RAM, it doubled up on the hardware specifications of the Amazon Kindle Fire competition. The Nook tablet further sports a 1024x600 resolution IPS display. With that said,  it is rather dated compared to the newly announced Nexus 7 tablet from Google (it has been around since November). The Nexus 7 is packing a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 1GB of RAM, and a 1280x800 IPS display.

As a result, the 7” tablet space is heating up, and with that come price cuts. According to Maximum PC, the entire family of Nook devices will be getting price cuts. The Nook Color–previously sold for $169–is now listed for $149. Also, the 8GB and 16GB versions of the Nook Tablet have reduced prices of 10% and 20% respectively. This results in an 8GB Nook Tablet for $179 and a 16GB Nook Tablet for $199. The 16GB Nook Tablet is now up against the 8GB Nexus 7, whereas it was previously priced against the 16GB Nexus 7 at $249. Essentially you get twice the flash storage at the same price (16GB Nook, 8GB Nexus 7), but getting that user storage will cost you time (as you need to repartition the internal storage on the Nook Tablet) and the internal hardware is not as fast.

Nook Family Price Cuts:

  Old Price New Price
Nook Color $169 $149
Nook Tablet 8GB $199 $179
Nook Tablet 16GB $249 $199

 

Still, the price cuts are a positive thing, and if you just want an eReader for reading and organizing your digital B&N library, you can now get one for a bit less money. On the other hand, if you are not already heavily invested in the Barnes & Noble ecosystem, the competition in the 7” tablet space is really heating up. The Nexus 7 has received positive reviews from reviewers, and it brings decent hardware at an attractive price point. Further, with rumors of an updated Kindle tablet, Barnes & Noble has to do something to keep ahead of customers considering the competition before they are hooked on the B&N ecosystem (heh).

Nook Tablet.JPG

As a result, it seems the company has chosen to give its current Nook Tablet lineup some price cuts to try and stay relevant. This is mostly speculation of course, but it does seem to be a reasonable explanation for the price cuts.

What do you think of the Nook Tablet price cuts, is it enough to keep Barnes & Noble in the 7” tablet game?

Source: Maximum PC

Lenovo Planning Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT Tablets

Subject: Mobile | August 12, 2012 - 11:25 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, Thinkpad, tegra 3, tablet, slate, Lenovo

Earlier this year Microsoft unveils its plans for Windows 8 and its self-designed Surface tablets. Most machines will come with the full version of Windows 8, but some OEMs will be shipping ARM-powered mobile devices with the stripped-down Windows RT version. Microsoft is further delving into the hardware game by designing its own hardware with the Surface tablet and accessories. It will come in two versions, one with an ARM processor and Windows RT and another with an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 8 Pro.

thinkpad-tablet-2-press5_1020_gallery_post.jpg

According to several leaks around the web throughout the week, Lenovo is taking the Surface to heart and planning its own two-pronged approach. The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 will be running Windows Pro with an x86-64 processor while the Windows RT version will be packing an NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC.

Unfortunately, there are essentially no other specifics to the rumor other than sources for the Wall Street Journal confirming its existence and that it will be of the convertible tablet form factor.

DSC_7526-hero_gallery_post.jpg

The Verge got hands-on with the ThinkPad 2 tablet. A keyboard, touchscreen, stylus, and pointing stick... input options abound!

On the other hand, there is a lot more meat to the ThinkPad 2 rumors, and it looks like a nice lightweight mobile workhorse. Allegedly the ThinkPad 2 is being developed as a “joint effort” with Intel and Microsoft. It weighs in at 1.3 pounds, is 9.8mm thick, and holds a 10.1-inch 1366x768 display. Running a full version of Windows 8, the ThinkPad 2 tablet is powered by an Intel Atom processor. Other features include an 8 megapixel and 2 megapixel camera on the back and front respectively as well as micro-HDMI port, fingerprint reader, and stylus. NFC and Wi-Fi are also very likely to be included, and a 3G/4G cellular radio will be an optional add-on. A separate keyboard accessory will allow users to dock the tablet and have access to a full keyboard with pointing stick. Alternatively, there is a dock attachment that adds an HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and three USB ports.

With the release of Windows 8 on October 26 official, it is likely that the two Lenovo ThinkPad tablets will be launched on–or shortly after–that date (the RT version might be delayed more so than the x86 tablet if I had to guess). No word yet on pricing, but here’s hoping that the prices are competitive with the Surface counterparts. 

It is not promising to see Lenovo going with Atom of all things for the x86-64 version, but that may just mean it will be one of the lower-cost tablets able to run the full version of Windows 8. As a fan of ThinkPads and styluses (styli?), I shall try to remain open minded until reviews come out with some benchmarks showing off the performance–or lack thereof (but remember, trying to stay positive here heh).

You can find more photos of the Intel Atom-powered ThinkPad 2 tablet over at The Verge.

Source: The Verge