Lenovo is showing off a nice pair of Ultrabooks

Subject: Mobile | August 10, 2012 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, ultrabook, ideapad u410, ideapad u310

Lenovo is offering two levels of their new Ultrabook series, the U410 with a Core i7-3517U, 8 GB DDR3-1333 RAM and a 1GB GeForce 610 while the U310 sports a Core i5 3317U, 4GB DDR3-1600 and relies on the built in HD4000.  There is another major difference as well, the U310 may be less powerful but its chassis is more attractive and comes in a variety of colours, making it perfect for those who need a bit of mobile power but not something focused on performance.  The lack of a discrete GPU also lowers the price and makes it more affordable for students.  Hardware.Info reviewed both of them separately, the U310 here and the more impressive U410 here.

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"For the price you get a pretty powerful and well-equipped Ultrabook. Most brands offer a Core i5 at this level, but Lenovo includes an energy-efficient Core i7 and 8 GB memory. And instead of the typical 500 GB hard drive you get a 1 TB version and even a dedicated graphics card by Nvidia. While it's just the GeForce 610, it's still a nice addition."

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Mobile

Samsung Launches Cortex A15-based Exynos 5 Dual Core SoC

Subject: Mobile | August 10, 2012 - 05:12 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, Exynos 5250, exynos 5, dual core arm, cortex a15

A few months back, Samsung debuted its latest Exynos 4 quad core mobile System on a Chip (SoC) based on four Cortex A9 cores. The company recently released details of its next generation Exynos processor, only this time it is a dual core variant. The Samsung Exynos 5 Dual (Exynos 5250) is packing the latest mobile ARM technology with two ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores and a Mali T604 graphics core.

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The dual core processor is running at 1.7 GHz and features the NEON fixed function hardware for accelerated video decoding. Further, the Mali T604 GPU is based on ARM’s new Midgard architecture. The T604 includes a unified shader design with support for OpenGL ES 3.0 and the full OpenCL 1.1 profile. Not too shabby for a mobile GPU!

The Exynos 5250 also sees an upgrade (from 6.4 GB/s in the Exynos 4) in memory bandwidth to 12.8 GB/s between the processor and two port LPDDR3 memory at up to 800Mhz. The increased memory bandwidth along with the new–and more powerful–processor and graphics hardware enables Samsung to offer support for much higher resolution displays up to WXQGA or 2560x1600 pixels.

Other features of the new Exynos 5 dual core processor include USB 3.0 support, wireless display support, and a claimed ability to playback 1080p video at 60 FPS using Google’s VP8 video decoder (no word on H.264 performance, though the ARM processor’s NEON hardware should handle those videos well enough). The GPU is also able to allegedly use 20-times less power when displaying a static image (such as a web page or ebook page) called PSR mode.

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According to the Android Authority, the first product to be powered by the new Samsung Exynos 5 processor will likely be the company’s upcoming Galaxy Tab 11.6 tablet. Quad core variants of the Exynos 5 should come out following the successful dual core launch.

The Cortex A15-based mobile processor is packing some impressive specifications, and it will be interesting to see Exynos 5-powered devices. Specifically, it will be interesting to see how it stacks up compared to products like NVIDIA’s Tegra 3, TI’s OMAP 5, and even Samsung’s own Exynos 4 quad core SoC. Are you excited about the new dual core SoC?

PC Perspective Hardware Workshop 2012 @ Quakecon 2012 in Dallas, TX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 10:30 PM |
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways

It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop!  Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.  

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Main Stage - Quakecon 2012

Saturday, August 4th, 2pm CT

Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year.  We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do!  Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!

Our thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!

Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out!  Our thanks to NVIDIA, MSI Computer and Corsair!!

 

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Live Streaming

If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry!  You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services.  Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!

Case Mod Competition

Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest!  There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.

For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!

Prize List (will continue to grow!)

Continue reading to see the list of prizes for the workshop!!!

Source: PCPer

Qt to have a new owner: Nokia selling the toolkit to Digia

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | August 9, 2012 - 07:08 PM |
Tagged: Qt, nokia, Digia

Ars Technica reports 125 employees at Nokia will move to Digia in a deal to relocate the open toolkit, Qt, away from the cellphone manufacturer. The deal reassures developers of software -- especially open sourced software -- their toolkit will continue to be maintained. Qt is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Symbian and MeeGo with other platforms such as Android and iOS planned for support.

I have a special place in my heart for Qt because of a couple of programming projects I have worked on. Finding a good cross-platform interface framework is more difficult than you would think. One project required developing a text-style editor for both Windows and Linux. Qt provided classes for dockable windows and panels, Webkit browser support, and just about anything else I could need.

It really was a cute framework – literally, that is how you pronounce it.

I was one of the first to get a little tenseness in my gut when Nokia started to partner with Microsoft and their Windows Phone platforms. Nokia was slowly distancing themselves from the framework they owned at the time. The Linux and other open source communities were getting quite involved with Qt due to how closely it is tied with KDE. Microsoft is embracing open source communities more than they have been but I would hesitate to trust them that much.

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GTK+ is basically the viable alternative to Qt.

So developer framework choice could very well have been between The Gimp and a gimp.

There has been no word on the finances of the transaction.

It is still yet to be seen whether Digia will be a good owner of the framework. Certainly the most recent analogy was the purchase of Java along with the rest of Sun and its assets to Oracle. That certainly did not end up as the best of situations for the end-users of the platform.

Thankfully the framework is published under the GPL along with their commercial license. Should GPL-compatible applications require the framework they would be able to fork from whatever the latest supported GPL release would be and continue on from that point.

Software which uses Qt in a way which is not GPL-compatible still has a few worries going forth. Digia appears to be have some level of trust by the community. We will need to stay tuned to see.

Source: Ars Technica

For G's a jolly good L ohhh... which 20 years can't deny.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: Siggraph, opengl, OpenGL ES, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0

OpenGL turned 20 as of the start of this year. Two new versions of the API have just been released during SIGGRAPH: OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0. Ars Technica put together a piece to outline the changes in these versions – most importantly: feature parity between Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4.3.

As much attention as Direct3D gets for PC gamers – you cannot ignore OpenGL.

Reigning in graphics hardware is a real challenge. We desire to make use of all the computational performance of our devices but also make it easy to develop for in as few times as possible. Regardless of what mobile, desktop, or other device you own – if it contains a GPU it almost definitely supports either OpenGL or OpenGL ES.

Even certain up-and-coming websites utilize the GPU to break new ground.

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The Khronosgraph says 20 years.

Two new versions of OpenGL were recently published: OpenGL 4.3 as well as OpenGL ES 3.0. For the first time OpenGL allows programmers to access compute shaders which makes it easier to accelerate computations which do not work upon pixels, vertices, or geometry without bringing in OpenCL or some other API. Unfortunately this feature does not appear to carry over to OpenGL ES 3.0.

OpenGL ES is also important, not just for native mobile development as it is intended, but also because it is considered the basis of WebGL. It is likely that a future WebGL revision will contain the OpenGL ES 3.0 enhancements such as many rendering targets, more complex shaders, and so forth.

But it seems like the major reason why these two revisions were released together – apart from their timing aligning with the SIGGRAPH trade show – is because OpenGL and OpenGL ES have been somewhat merged. OpenGL ES 3.0 is now a subset of OpenGL 4.3 rather than some heavily overlapping Venn diagram. Porting from one specification to the other should be substantially easier.

So happy birthday, OpenGL – just don’t go down the toilet on your 21st.

Source: Ars Technica

More on Google's $200 Jellybean

Subject: Mobile | August 1, 2012 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: google, nexus 7, andriod, jellybean, tablet, tegra 3

By now you may be familiar with the Tegra 3 powered, 1280x800 IPS display Nexus 7, but if you've been away then The Tech Report can fill you in on what you have missed.  At 7.8" x 4.7" the resolution is a respectable 216 pixels per inch as well as being of a nice size for both portability and usability.  The mini USB port can come in handy in several ways but the one thing it cannot do is offer you external storage for your Nexus 7 which is a bit of a pain considering there is a $50 premium on the 16GB model over the 8GB base.  There are some flaws but considering that at $200 it is significantly less expensive than its competitors, there is a lot of good things to say about Google's new tablet.

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"For just $199, Google's Nexus 7 tablet serves up a 1280x800 display, a Tegra 3 SoC, and the very latest version of Android. We take a closer look at the budget wonder and break out our high-speed camera to capture Jelly Bean's responsiveness improvements in action."

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Mobile

GPU: Finally getting recognition from Windows.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | July 27, 2012 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, winRT, gpgpu

Paul Thurrott of Windows Supersite reports that Windows 8 is finally taking hardware acceleration seriously and will utilize the GPU across all applications. This hardware acceleration should make Windows 8 perform better and consume less power than if the setup were running Windows 7. With Microsoft finally willing to adopt modern hardware for performance and battery life I wonder when they will start using the GPU to accelerate tasks like file encryption.

It is painful when you have the right tool for the job but must use the wrong one.

Windows has, in fact, used graphics acceleration for quite some time albeit in fairly mundane and obvious ways. Windows Vista and Windows 7 brought forth the Windows Aero Glass look and feel. Aero was heavily reliant on Shader Model 2.0 GPU computing to the point that much of it would not run on anything less.

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Washington State is not that far away from Oregon.

Microsoft is focusing their hardware acceleration efforts for Windows 8 on what they call mainstream graphics. 2D graphics and animation were traditionally CPU-based with a couple of applications such as Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, and eventually Chrome allowing the otherwise idle GPU to lend a helping hand. As such, Microsoft is talking up Direct2D and DirectWrite usage all throughout Windows 8 on a wide variety of hardware.

The driving force that neither Microsoft nor Paul Thurrott seems to directly acknowledge is battery life. Graphics Processors are considered power-hogs until just recently for almost anyone who assembles a higher-end gaming computer.  Despite this, the GPU is actually more efficient at certain tasks than a CPU -- this is especially true when you consider the GPUs which will go into WinRT devices. The GPU will help the experience be more responsive and smooth but also consume less battery power. I guess Microsoft is finally believes that the time is right to bother using what you already have.

There are many more tasks which can be GPU accelerated than just graphics -- be it 3D or the new emphasis on 2D acceleration. Hopefully after Microsoft dips in their toe they will take the GPU more seriously as an all-around parallel task processor. Maybe now that they are implementing the GPU for all applications they can consider using it for all applications -- in all applications.

Asus Announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Updates to Tablet Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2012 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: transformer prime, transformer pad, transformer infinity, tablet, asus

ASUS recently announced that they will be bringing the latest version of Google's Android operating system – Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" to its line of Transformer tablets. Among the tablets to receive the update are the ASUS Transformer Pad, ASUS Transformer Pad Prime, and ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. They will be getting the updates within the next couple of months, and more specific release dates will be announced closer to launch, according to the company.

The Transformer Prime tablet with keyboard dock

ASUS further stated that they are continuing to evaluate the feasibility of upgrading other devices to Jelly Bean, but there is nothing official in regards to devices that will for sure get it beyond the tablets listed above.

In an email, Senior Technical marketing Manager Gary Key stated the following:

"At ASUS, one of the key commitments we make to our customers is a relentless drive to deliver the best user experience. We constantly strive to achieve this goal through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy that includes regular software and firmware updates for our products."

While I don't have a Transformer tablet myself, It's great to see that they are continuing to support their devices, unlike a certain smartphone manufacturer (heh, yeah I'm still jaded over my Infuse 4G's update situation). If you have a ASUS tablet, be on the lookout (or follow PC Per!) for the Jelly Bean updates as it has some really neat new features.

For now though, you will have to settle for watching Ryan ogle over his Nexus 7 on this week's podcast :).

Source: ASUS

Google, what happened to all the other Nexus models?

Subject: Mobile | July 13, 2012 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: google, Nexus, jellybean

Google's first tablet, the Nexus 7, is running the new Android OS called JellyBean and has inside a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, with the $200 model sporting 8GB of storage and the $250 doubling that to 16GB.  Apart from the storage the models are the same, with a 1280 x 800 screen and a single micro-USB plug, no SD card slot at all.  It also only has a single 1.2MP camera which will only let you send video, there is no camera app to allow you to snap pictures.  Check out the usability of the new device over at TechSpot.

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"Google has released a number of Nexus branded "hero" smartphones in the past, but the new Google Nexus 7 is the first ever tablet to bear the Google Nexus name. Built by Asus, the Nexus 7 also has the distinction of being the first device to run the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system.

While the Nexus 7 offers nothing to consumers that can't be found elsewhere - save for Jelly Bean - it offers a number of refinements to the Android tablet experience in terms of both software and hardware. And it does it all at a sub-$200 price point that is meant to dethrone Amazon's Kindle Fire as the reigning Android tablet of choice for consumers. With specs like a quad-core processor and a 1280 x 800 pixel display, that seems possible and likely."

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Source: TechSpot

Galaxy Nexus Ban Suspended Pending Response From Apple

Subject: Mobile | July 7, 2012 - 07:44 AM |
Tagged: universal search, patents, injunction, google, galaxy nexus, apple, Android

Over the past couple of weeks, Apple and Samsung have been battling it out in court as Apple tries to get US sales of the Galaxy Nexus banned over an Apple universal search patent. We are not much for patent news here, but this has been one case that everyone seems to be following. Samsung has managed to get a stay on the injunction against its Galaxy Nexus smartphone – at least until Apple formally responds to Samsung. From there, a judge will need to make the final call on whether the injunction will remain in effect during the trial or not. That should give the company a few days, at least.

Interestingly, Samsung also seems to be planning for the worst with an Over the Air (OTA) update planned that will prevent the search bar in Android from searching for files stored on the phone itself – you will still be able to search the Internet from it however. I’m rather surprised that Apple is going after Samsung so aggressively to begin with since it is one of the company’s major hardware partners (ie for iPad components). At this point, it’s a toss up as to who will win out in court, but I’m hoping that the user experience for mobile Android users will not have to suffer as a result of this bickering over a search box.

What do you think about the court battle? Who do you think is in the right? For reference, the Apple patent that the case centers around seems to be US 8,086,604.

Check out our Google I/O coverage for more photos of the new Nexus branded hardware!

Source: The Verge

ASUS takes it's Transformer to new heights

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2012 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: asus, transformer infinity, tablet, keyboard dock

The 10.1" ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity sports a 1920x1200 display which doesn't quite match Apple's Retina display but is more than enough to deliver HD content and provide sharp text.  The SuperIPS+ mode which was intended to make the tablet fully readable under direct sunlight did not work perfectly but does live up to the promise when you are dealing with indirect sunlight.  The paired dock has been updated as well, with a stronger design and a keyboard The Tech Report preferred over many laptop keyboards, though if you are happy with the dock you used for the Prime it is compatible with the Infinity as well.  In the end, they only recommended this tablet when paired with the keyboard dock thanks to the extras that it offers, but even with the dock you still don't seem to get any USB ports.

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"Six months after we first laid eyes on Asus' Transformer Pad Infinity, the tablet hybrid is finally read for prime time. Join us for an in-depth look at the new Transformer and its high-density 1920x1200 display."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Report: NVIDIA Tegra 3 Kai Platform to Power ASUS-built Nexus Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 27, 2012 - 03:43 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, memo, jelly bean, ics, eeepad, asus, Android

For months, rumors have been flying about Google introducing a "Nexus" tablet platform, reminiscent of what they have done with previous phone releases. With the Google I/O Day 1 Keynote just hours away, we at PC Perspective are throwing our hat into the ring in predicting what Google is likely to announce.

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During meetings with ASUS at CES 2012, representatives from the company introduced us to a series of 3 tablets, including the Eee Pad MeMO 171, and the later to be named Transformer Prime Infinity. While these two tablets have been released or are soon to be released in some retail capacity, there is one product that they were talking about that morning which ASUS has gone completely silent on. 

While ASUS was being a little cagey about the product at the time, we did recieve some initial information for this Eee Pad MeMO 370T. We were told that it was a Tegra 3 product, and that it would come in at around $250. This device however was not particularly accessible to us like the rest of the time as it was locked in a protective case. We could use the screen of the device, but that was about it. In fact, the pictures that we snapped of this device were frankly just by chance, as we were expecting to see this product later down the line and didn't put much focus onto it.

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Moving on to later in the same day, we attended the NVIDIA press conference, which was very Tegra focused. One of the big announcements was an unnamed ASUS $249 Tegra 3 Tablet. NVIDIA was also being pretty silent about this product, but we once again expected news about their low-cost platform for tablet (Kai) in the coming weeks.

 

NVIDIA announces $249 ASUS Tegra 3 Tablet at CES

However we never recieved any more information in the following 6 months from either ASUS or NVIDIA, which brings us to this year's Google I/O. With Google expected to be working with ASUS on a 7" tablet, and the fact that NVIDIA was so hyped about a product that was never heard from again, it becomes a safe assumption to look towards the long forgotten Eee Pad MeMO 370T as the likely platform. While the styling may be altered, any potential Google/ASUS 7" tegra tablet will certainly have had roots in the Eee family.

ASUS new Zenbook UX31 shows some promise

Subject: Mobile | June 20, 2012 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: asus, Zenbook UX31, ultrabook

ASUS has been paying attention to the complaints many people have about the resolution of ultrabooks and with the UX31 have provided an 11.6" 1600 x 900 LCD.  The aluminium clad Ultrabook uses the Core i5-2557M and HD3000 graphics, 4GB DDR3 and a 256GB SSD in its thin and lightweight frame.  Unfortunately Hardware Canucks ended up less than impressed with the chicklet style keyboard nor the track pad and they found issues with the WiFi as well. On the positive side the battery life was impressive as was the audio so do not dismiss this Ultrabook because of a few small issues.

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"Mobile computing is quickly evolving with thinner, more versatile designs and no product better defines this focus than ASUS' new Zenbook series of Ultrabooks. The UX31 has been around for a while but it still represents the pinnacle of industrial design with a sleek body and even better looking specifications. But in an environment that's cluttered with lower priced competitors, this Ultrabook will be fighting an uphill battle for recognition. "

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Microsoft Surface announced -- twice. ARM, x86: your choice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft

Steve Ballmer led the enigmatic announcement of “Surface”, a Microsoft branded consumer tablet. The tablet will contain a 10.6” display and run either Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro depending on whether you choose the NVIDIA-powered ARM variant or the higher-end Intel x86-based sibling. The device’s cover will contain a built-in Bluetooth keyboard and multi-touch trackpad.

Microsoft generated a lot of hype around their latest announcement.

In the end what we received the entirety of what was expected -- except the product looks compelling.

The Surface, borrowing the brand from their business-oriented smart table products, is a series of consumer tablets with a 10.6” 16x9 form factor. Would you like a full Windows 8 Pro experience on an Intel device or would you prefer a thinner and lighter Windows RT device powered by an NVIDIA ARM processor? Let us weight the Pro and cons.

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So would this be like -- an Ultra…clipboard? Ooo -- Ultraclippy, that has brand power.

Early reports testify that the device feels well built. The announcement made somewhat of a big deal that the tablet has a magnesium chassis and a Gorilla Glass 2 screen. You will cover the screen of the device with a small Bluetooth keyboard which will be available in a few colors. With the tablet resting on its included kickstand and its keyboard cover flowing out from beneath it -- the Surface looks very similar to a laptop.

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So -- magnesium chassis. This should be fun to thermite.

The Intel variant will feature a larger battery although extra battery life is not an immediate guarantee. The Pro device will allow for MicroSDXC cards, USB 3.0, and mini DisplayPort output. Both devices feature 2x2 MIMO antennae for their WIFI connectivity which could provide a fair chunk of bandwidth for streaming media.

Pricing and availability are currently unannounced except that they will be comparable to what is available. The ARM device will be available in 32 and 64GB models with the x86 Pro-class device available in 64 and 128GB.

Source: Microsoft

Rumor: Microsoft announcing branded Windows RT tablet with Tegra 3

Subject: Mobile | June 18, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows on arm, tegra, tablet, nvidia

Today at 6:30pm EST, Microsoft is holding an event in Los Angeles for a "major announcement" and there are rumors floating around the web that this could be anything from a new e-reader device in cooperation with Barnes & Noble to a custom-built Windows phone.

After sifting through some rumors and going off of some information I got during Computex this month, I think the answer is pretty obvious as to what we are going to see tonight: a Windows RT tablet device that will be branded and sold by Microsoft.  Rather than depend on partners like ASUS, Dell and Toshiba, Microsoft will pull out all the stops to compete against the Apple iPad directly by making the "reference" device to spark the Windows tablet market.

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Who will actually BUILD this Microsoft branded Windows RT tablet?

While this is unusual for Microsoft, this isn't the first time we have seen this.  The Microsoft Zune was a great device for the music player market that just happened to come along too late as the convergence of phones and music took hold.  However, the Zune software and music infrastructure live on with the Windows Phone devices and I think you'll find it a part of today's announcement for the Microsoft Windows RT tablet. 

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Ah, the first Zune HD.  Yes I still use mine!

One of the most interesting parts of this announcement is going to be the hardware itself.  Will Microsoft go the "safe" route and base the tablet on a timid design like we saw from the Amazon Kindle Fire or will they go more aggressively after the iPad with a higher resolution screen and mobile carrier plans? 

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Amazon's Kindle Fire

When talking with the major ARM SoC vendors about Windows RT in May and June, one thing became very clear to me - only one hardware vendor claimed to be ready for the pending release of Windows RT - NVIDIA.  While Qualcomm and TI were struggling to bring performance levels to where they needed to be to run the operating system effectively, NVIDIA was the vendor best prepared for the new ecosystem.  We saw that play out with the first public demonstration of a Windows RT tablet device coming from ASUS and NVIDIA earlier this month.  

I fully expect the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor to be at the heart of the new Microsoft Windows RT tablet announced tonight - and that would be a HUGE victory for one of the smallest (in terms of volume), yet loudest, SoC vendors competing in this market.  And NVIDIA and Microsoft already have a history of working together with Tegra products - remember that the Zune HD player was the first major product win for NVIDIA's SoC

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I believe this tablet will have the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC inside

A Microsoft-built Windows RT tablet will no doubt miff some of the company's partners, the same companies we mentioned above like Dell and ASUS, but MS may finally be realizing, much like Google has with the coming Nexus Tablet, that competing with Apple requires a different kind of mindset than previous hardware battles.  On the other hand, a Windows RT tablet that combines Zune music service, Barnes & Noble e-reader integration and maybe even some Xbox and TV options would be a VERY compelling product.

Acer's Thunderbolt capable Win8 tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 11, 2012 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: iconia w700, iconia w510, acer, tablet, thunderbolt, win8

AnandTech checked out Acer's two new tablets, the Iconia W700 and W510, both of which are designed for Windows 8.  The W700 is the more impressive of the two for a number of reasons but the best feature has to be the ThunderBolt port, which allows this tablet to function as much more than a Tablet and might actually provide a decent excuse to use Cloud computing.  It is a little large to be held and carried around for a long time, but with the possibility of a low voltage Ivy Bridge processor running the tablet some space must be devoted to spread the heat.  The W510 is smaller and comes with an optional keyboard dock and you can check up on its specs as well as more on the W700 in this article at AnandTech.

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"My first meeting of Computex wasn't a meeting at all, rather it was Acer's press conference a day before the show officially started. In its press conference, Acer introduced a top to bottom lineup of touch enabled Windows 8 devices."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Source: AnandTech

AFDS 2012: ARM once again on stage with AMD - partnership incoming?

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2012 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: mali, arm, amd, AFDS

In a blog post over at arm.com, ARM Fellow Jem Davies has made a point to let us all know that he is going to be attending the AMD Fusion Developer Summit yet again, but this time with something more concrete to discuss.  In a very self-aware statement, Davies writes in his post that "my appearance last year generated a lot of speculation about the nature of the relationship between ARM and AMD." 

Indeed it did.

From Davies' post:

This year, we have a great deal to discuss. ARM is all about low power and many people in the industry now realize that GPUs have a central role to play in providing highly energy-efficient computing. It’s an exciting future that can grow the ecosystem that surrounds computing. ARM’s unique portfolio of CPU, GPU, interconnect and physical IP puts us at the forefront of one of the most important technological changes in a long time. Reflecting on that and some of those changes, I will be making an announcement at the show.

Emphasis above is ours.

Also worth noting is that Jem Davies does not have his own session at AFDS, but rather we can expect to see him to come out on stage during another keynote, likely during Phil Rogers' or Mark Papermaster's. 

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AMD wants into the tablet market.  ARM could accelerate that process.

Exactly WHAT the ARM/AMD announcement might be obviously isn't known by many yet, but we have speculated many times that an AMD built, ARM architecture processor, with Radeon-based graphics technology and ARM low-power CPU cores, could help AMD enter into the world of ultra-lower power SoCs very quickly.  Markets like the pending onslaught of Windows 8 RT tablets and clamshells have NVIDIA foaming at the mouth and AMD would be remiss to not attempt to tackle the same markets and one-up Intel at the same time.

It should be an exciting week!  Keep checking pcper.com and our AFDS site tag for all the latest news including keynote live blogs!

Source: ARM

MSI Unveils Ultra Portable Laptop and Windows 8 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: x460dx, video, ultraportable, tablet, slider s20, notebook, msi, laptop, computex

MSI has been extremely busy at this year’s Computex trade show by releasing tons of new hardware. The company today officially announced two new Ultra series laptops that are less than 1” thick and made to be ultraportable and stylish.

The MSI X460DX is a 14” thin and light notebook with metal alloy chassis, Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, NVIDIA GT630M graphics card, HDMI, Bluettoth, and USB 3.0 technology. It also supports the company’s Turbo Battery+ technology and a hotkey to turn off idle hardware. The computer sports a stylized trackpad, chiclet keyboard, and metal accents.

MSI X460DX.png

The MSI X460DX weighs in at 2kg and is less than an inch thick. No word yet on pricing or availability.

The other MSI Ultra series notebook is the Slider 20. The 11.6” device is constructed of plastic with brushed metal textures, weighs in at 1.3kg and is stated to be “less than 2 centimeters thin.” The interesting bit about the MSI Slider S20 is the touchscreen, however. The 11.6” screen (which has a resolution of 1366x768) can lay flat over the keyboard in slate mode or slide back and tilt upwards. In laptop mode, the chiclet keyboard is exposed. The computer will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Powering the ultrabook is an Intel Chief River based Core i3 CULV processor, Intel IGP for graphics, and accelerometer. On the outside it features an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, audio output, and webcam.

MSI Slider S20.png

The MSI Slider S20 is certainly an interesting form factor, and I suspect it will be sturdier than other convertible tablets that utilize a single hinge in the center to connect the display and keyboard. Engadget managed to get their hands on the device. They reported that although the Slider S20’s keyboard is a bit cramped and even a little too flexible, the screen hinge felt sturdy and the device felt rather lightweight. Beyond that, MSI isn't talking detailed specifications.

MSI S20_Windows 8.png

 

Word around the Internet is that the S20 will be sold for under $1,000 USD which is pretty good (depending on just how far under it is). I’m certainly interested in seeing what this Windows 8 tablet can do.

Source: MSI

Computex: MSI Showing Off Five G-series Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd

MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.

MSI GX60

The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.

The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.

MSI GT70 and GT60

The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).

MSI_GT70_Gaming Notebook.jpg

The MSI GT70 gaming notebook

The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.

MSI GE70 and GE60

The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.

All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.

Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.

Below you can find a video by eTeknix that goes into more detail on the MSI gaming notebooks. You can further find the official MSI press release here.

Source: MSI

Dell Revamps Back-to-School Portfolio With New Laptops

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 06:37 AM |
Tagged: laptop, inspiron special edition, inspiron 14z, inspiron, dell, back-to-school

Dell is gearing up for the back-to-school shopping season with a refresh of its Inspiron laptop portfolio. They are releasing updated laptops in its Inspiron Z, Inspiron R, and Inspiron R Special Edition computers in several sizes. The systems range in starting/base prices of $599.99 USD and $1,299.99 USD and will be available in June (more specific numbers below).

Dell recently announced that it is releasing a number of new laptops under its Inspiron brand. The three sub-series that are receiving updates include the Inspiron Z, Inspiron R, and Inspiron R Special Edition. The Inspiron Z laptops are thin and light notebooks (the 14z is classed as an Ultrabook) while the Inspiron R series are larger products for everyday computing. The Inspiron R Special Edition notebooks are paired with “studio-quality multimedia and audio.”

The new laptops feature curved edges, a “Moon Silver” band around the edges, Waves MaxxAudio technology, and Skullcandy brand speakers. Sam Burd, Dell’s Vice President for the Personal Computing Product Group stated that “the expanded and redesigned Inspiron family helps parents embrace technology and make a smart investment in their childrens’ success.” Needless to say, the company is pushing the computers hard as college friendly, especially the thin and light Inspiron Z laptops.

Inspiron Z Laptops - Thin & Light

The new Inspiron Z series comes in 13” and 14” varieties with the Inspiron 13z and Inspiron 14z respectively. The thin and light models will offer mobile broadband radios with Dell’s NetReady service which is a “pay-as-you-go” no contract service. Further, both notebooks offer around seven hours of claimed battery life (the 13z claims 7.5 hours, to be more specific, versus 7 on 14z).

Inspiron 13z

The 13z is the smallest notebook of the updated lineup. It features Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors and HD 4000 graphics, six GB of DDR4 memory, a 500GB hard drive, and non-replaceable battery offering up to seven and a half hours. The hardware then powers a 13.3” TrueLife display with a resolution of 1366x768. It will be available in Moon Silver, Fire Red, and Lotus Pink colors. Further, it weights 3.81 pounds (1.73Kg) and measures .82” thick.

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The full specifications of the device can be found below:

 

• Beautiful color options with SWITCH lids: Moon Silver (standard), Lotus Pink, Fire Red
• Standard 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 with HD Graphics 3000 or available 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 and i7
CPUs and HD Graphics 4000ii pack plenty of performance into this surprisingly slim chassis
o 2nd Generation Intel Core i3-2367M processor (3MB cache, up to 1.4GHz) (standard)
o 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3317U processor (3MB cache, up to 2.6GHz)
• 6GB dual channel memoryii
• 500GB Hard Drive
• 13.3-inch high definition (720p) WLED display with Truelife (1366x768 standard)
• Battery life up to 7 hrs 30 min (with Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB memory and 320GB hard
drive). Dell Inspiron 13z batteries are built into the laptop and are not replaceable by the
customer
• Waves MaxxAudio 4 audio; Skullcandy speakers
• Intel Wireless Display supports streaming 1080p & 5.1 surround sound wirelessly
• HDMI 1.4a output for HD entertainment and HD aspect Webcam with pre-loaded Skype
• USB 3.0 (2); USB 3.0 PowerShare (1); RJ45 Ethernet; HDMI v1.4; 8-in-1 media card reader;
Bluetooth 4.0 (standard)
• Height: 0.82”-0.82” (20.7mm – 20.7mm); Width: 13.07” (332mm); Depth: 9.05” (230mm)
• Weight: Starting at 3.81 lbs (1.73 Kg)
• Starting price: $599.99
• U.S. availability: June 19

 

The Inspiron 13z will be available June 19th in the US and Canada (already available elsewhere) starting at $599.99 USD.

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The Inspiron 13z will come in three colors.

Inspiron 14z

The 14z is the company’s second ultrabook (the first being the XPS 13), and the first Inspiron branded ultrabook. It starts at 4.12 pounds (1.87Kg) and .83” thick and will be available in Moon Silver and Fire Red (coming later this summer) with a brushed aluminum textured finish. It will feature Intel’s Rapid Start Technology to improve boot times and features a claimed seven hours of battery life.

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Full specifications for the 14z are as follows:

 

• Beautiful aluminum finish in Moon Silver or optional Fire Redi
• Standard 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 with HD Graphics 3000ii or available 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 and i7
CPUs and HD Graphics 4000ii pack plenty of performance into this surprisingly slim chassis
o 2nd Generation Intel Core i3-2367M processor (3MB cache, up to 1.4GHz) (standard)
o 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3317U processor (3MB cache, up to 2.6GHz)
o 3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3517U processor (4MB cache, up to 3.0GHz)
• Memory options from 6GB (standard) up to 8GB dual channel memoryii
• Hard drive options: 500GB with 32GB mSATA cardiii; optional 128GB SSDiii
• AMD Radeon HD 7570M with 1GB GDDR5 graphicsii (option with Core i5 and i7 configuration)
• 14-inch high definition (720p) WLED display (1366x768 standard)
• Battery life up to 7 hrs 01 min (with Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB memory, AMD 7570M 1GB
graphics, and 500GB hard drive). Dell Inspiron 14z batteries are built into the laptop and are
not replaceable by the customer
• Waves MaxxAudio 3 audio; Skullcandy speakers
• Intel Smart Response Technology quickly recognizes and caches most frequently used files and
applications, allowing quick access
• Intel Rapid Start Technology boots in seconds; resumes in seconds; saves power when sleeping.
• HDMI 1.4a output for HD entertainment and HD aspect Webcam with pre-loaded Skypevi
• USB 3.0 (1); USB 3.0 PowerShare (1); RJ45 Ethernet; HDMI v1.4; 3-in-1 media card reader;
Bluetooth 4.0
• Height: 0.81”-0.83” (20.7mm – 21mm); Width: 13.66” (347mm); Depth: 9.45” (240mm)
•Weight: Starting at 4.12 lbs (1.87 Kg)vii
The Inspiron 14z is able to use up to an Intel Core i7 3517U and is packing a 32GB mSATA SSD. It will be available in the US and Canada on June 19 (already available in select countries in Asia, coming later this summer to the EU) with a starting price of $699.99 USD.

Inspiron R Laptops - Everyday Computing

The Inspiron R notebooks are aimed at everyday computing and feature HD displays, Waves MaxxAudio 3 technology, lots of connectivity ports, and have several different processor, memory, and hard drive combinations available to users. They support Intel’s WiDi technology that can wireless transmit video and audio to your home theater setup. They come in 15” and 17” models as the 15R and 17R respectively.

Inspiron 15R

The 15R comes in four colors including Moon Silver, Lotus Pink, Fire Red, and Peacock Blue. The Laptop measures up to 1.34” thick and weighs in at 6.05 pounds (2.744Kg). It comes with Intel’s WiDi to hook up to external displays but it does feature a built-in 15.6” WLED display with 1366x768 resolution. The company claims that the laptop can get up to 6 hours and 46 minutes when equipped with an i5 CPU, 4GB memory, and 500GB mechanical hard drive. Processor options can include either a Sandy Bridge Core i3-2370M processor, Ivy Bridge i5-3210M, or Ivy Bridge i7-3612QM processor running at 2.4GHz, 2.9GHz, and 3.1GHz respectively. Users can select either 6GB or 8GB of DDR3 memory and up to a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive. Connectivity options include HDMI 1.4a, three USB 3.0, USB 3.0 PowerShare, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA output, SD card reader, and Bluetooth 4.0.

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The Inspiron 15R will be available June 19th with a starting price of $549.99.

Inspiron 17R

 

The 17R is very similar to the 15R in terms of internal hardware with the same processor, hard drive, and memory options. It does have a larger display at 17.3” with a resolution of 1600x900 pixels. It will come in either Moon Silver, Lotus Pink, or Peacock Blue colors and will weigh in at 7.15 pounds (3.24Kg). External connectivity options are the same as the Inspiron 15R as well. The company is claiming a slightly shorter battery life of 5 hours and 34 minutes, however.

 

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The Inspiron 17R is already available in certain Asian and European countries. It will go on sale in the US and Canada starting June 19th with a base price of 599.99 USD. The full specifications for the 17R are as follows:

 

• Beautiful color options with SWITCH lids: Moon Silver (standard), Lotus Pink, Peacock Blue i
• Standard 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 with HD Graphics 3000ii or available 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 and i7
CPUs and HD Graphics 4000ii pack plenty of performance
o 2nd Generation Intel Core i3-2367M processor (3MB cache, up to 1.4GHz) (standard)
o 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3210M processor (3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz)
o 3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3612QM processor (6MB cache, up to 3.1GHz)
• Memory options from 6GB (standard) up to 8GB DDR3 memoryii
• Hard drive options from 500GB (standard) to 1TB 5400 RPM SATAiii
• 17.3-inch high definition plus (900p) WLED display with Truelife (1600x900)
• Battery life up to 5 hrs 34 min (with Intel Core i5 processor, and 6GB memory)
• Waves MaxxAudio 3 audio; speakers with sub-woofer
• Intel Wireless Displayv supports streaming 1080p & 5.1 surround sound wirelessly
• HDMI 1.4a output for HD entertainment and HD aspect Webcam with pre-loaded Skypevi
• USB 3.0 (3); USB 3.0 PowerShare (1); RJ45 Ethernet; HDMI v1.4; VGA; 8-in-1 media card reader;
Bluetooth 4.0
• Height: 1.25”-1.46” (31.7mm – 37.1mm); Width: 16.4” (416.8mm); Depth: 10.87” (276mm)
• Weight: Starting at 7.15 lbs (3.24 Kg)vii
• Starting price: $599.99
• U.S. availability: June 19
 
Continue reading to see photos of Dell's highest-end Inspiron R Special Edition laptops.
Source: Dell