Computex: ASUS G75VW Allegedly World’s First 802.11ac 5GHz Laptop

Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged: wireless, gaming laptop, gaming, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac, 5GHz wifi

Earlier today we posted a couple of teaser photos showing off some of ASUS’ upcoming products. One of the devices was a gaming laptop called the ASUS G75. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some more information regarding a variant of the G75 – the G75VW. According to the site, the gaming laptop is rocking an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, GeForce GTX 670M, and DDR3 memory (known because of the CPU used). That hardware is then powering a 1080p display, which the GTX 670M should have no problem driving but is a bit depressing to see on a high end laptop of this size (approximately 17”). The real kicker though is in the wireless card that it is allegedly packing: an 802.11ac card.

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The ASUS G75 gaming laptop

Engadget states that although the information sheet next to the laptop at ASUS’ Computex booth did not list any 802.11ac compatibility, wireless chip maker Broadcom (manufacturer of chips that are used in many wireless routers and NICs) has stated that it does in fact have an 802.11ac NIC in it. Senior Vice President Michael Hurlston told members of the press at Computex 2012 that the ASUS G75VW is the “World’s first 5G Wi-Fi laptop.” He further stated that the computer would be arriving in the hands of consumers “very shortly.”

Interesting stuff, and although the “5G Wi-Fi” – so called because it is the fifth generation of consumer grade Wi-Fi (though not the 5th gen if you count all iterations of the wireless 802.11 standards) – is not yet official and set in stone, it is very close and I would not be surprised to see the technology in a laptop like this particular ASUS at this point in the game.

And to think that I just got done upgrading my network to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n about two months ago! Even so, I’m excited for the upcoming standard because I want to test its usefulness in getting live TV from my CableCARD tuner to the living room and Katy’s wireless laptop without stuttering – something even wireless N with MIMO can’t do with devices in the same room. So far, the only thing stable enough has been wired Cat5e Ethernet (both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps hardware seem to work without issues). And because it’s proving difficult to get a wired connection from the router to the TV (Xbox 360 used as Windows Media Extender), I’m ready to try out some 802.11ac stuff to see if it can really deliver on the increased bandwidth!

Source: Engadget

ASUS Republic of Gamers Gear Pictured

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 6, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, laptop, headsets, gaming, ASUS ROG, asus

Today we received a number of photos from ASUS that show off some upcoming hardware from their upcoming Republic of Gamers line. Except for the Xonar Phoebus (which has launched), the hardware in these photos is not yet released and ASUS has not revealed when it will be available for sale – or how much it will cost. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than getting a glimpse of some shiny unreleased hardware – especially when I get to share it with you!

Motherboards

First up is a new Replublic of Gamers motherboard called the Maximus V Extreme. This board is similar to the mATX Maximus V GENE board that was announced recently, but the Extreme motherboard is full ATX.

While full specifications are unknown, from the photo you can see that the board has an LGA 1155 socket, making it compatible with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Further, it is sporting four DDR3 DIMM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots. Other features of the board include ASUS’ Extreme Engine Digi+ II digital power control technology, power and reset buttons on the board itself, voltage check points, Lucid Virtu MVP GPU virtualization technology, and AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support. The VRM area and southbridge area of the board is covered by large black and red heatsinks.

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Rear IO includes five USB 2.0 ports (one to be used with ROG Connect), two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio output, PS/2 port, five analog audio outputs and a TOSLink connector. Additionally, the board features CMOS clear and reset buttons, a mini-PCIe + mSATA combo card, and a Republic of Gamers OC Key accessory. The OC Key plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card and provides an on-screen-display for overclocking information and voltage tweaking.

In addition to the ASUS Maximus V Extreme, the company is producing the Maximus V Forumula motherboard, which is then further available with or without the ThunderFX audio accessory. The Formula board is another socket 1155 board with a red and black color scheme that is ready for Ivy Bridge processors and multi-GPU setups (SLI or CrossFireX). The heatsinks on the formula are a little less beefy than those on the Maximus V Extreme, but the VRM heatsinks are ready to be integrated into a water cooling loop. Further features include four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA connectors, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot.

 

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The board also features the SupremeFX integrated sound card (which has been isolated from the rest of the board by routing the wiring through its own PCB layer) and a mini-PCI-E + mSATA combo card. One version of the motherboard also comes with the SupremeFX accessory which you can see in the photo below.

ROG_Maximus_V_Formula_with_ThunderFX.png

Rear IO of the Maximus V Formula motherboard includes four USB 2.0 ports (one for ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, DisplayPort, HDMI, Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, five analog audio jacks, two optical audio outputs, and CMOS clear and reset buttons.

The Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a device called the ThunderFX that is a high end headphone amp and DAC offering 120dB SNR, and noise cancellation technology.  The included GamEQ comes with three preset profiles but also offers you a wide range of options to tweak your sound to your own desires.  There is also onboard audio in the form of the SupremeFX IV audio chipset which will keep those who prefer speakers more than happy with their audio quality. 

You can also see that the large anodized aluminium heatsinks have barbs for you to include them in a watercooling loop so that all components on your motherboard can be cooled without resorting to fans to move air.  GameFirst II is the name ASUS has given their networking software and it is designed to examine an prioritize packets to reduce lag and ping times.  It comes with both an EZ Mode as well as offering advanced options for those who know what they are doing.  As we have seen on other boards, the Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a mPCIe Combo card with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.  This board is also shattering records in Super PI 32M, 3DMark05 and Heaven to name a few. 

Check out more from ASUS from Computex including ROG graphics cards, audio devices and laptops!!

Source: ASUS

New GeForce Equipped Ultrabooks Announced At Computex

Subject: Mobile | June 5, 2012 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, nvidia, news, laptop, gpu

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Earlier this year I had the chance to take a look at the first ultrabook with discrete graphics, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. My review was not particularly favorable, but the idea of placing discrete graphics in an ultrabook is both compelling and necessary. Intel’s low-voltage processors have difficulty with gaming when paired with the HD 4000 IGP and this flaw is difficult to excuse in products typically priced at $800 or above. 

Four new ultrabooks with NVIDIA discrete GPUs have been unveiled to tackle the problem of gaming with a slim laptop. The list includes two laptops from Acer, two laptops from Gigabyte and one from ASUS.

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The Gigabyte U2442N, which has a 14” 1600x900 display and a GeForce GT 650M GPU, is obviously the most powerful and the product that offers the most promising gaming experience on paper. Only the ASUS UX32 looks questionable. There’s no way that a GeForce GT 620M is going to handle gaming on a 1080p display. 

Unfortunately, a closer look at the announcement suggests these product lines aren’t that exciting. The Gigabyte laptops have received a lot of positive attention, but Gigabyte has no meaningful presence in the North American laptop market and it’s nearly guaranteed the laptop won’t be popular on this side of the pond. The Acer M5-581TG appears to be an Ivy Bridge updated version of the Acer Aspire M3 that we reviwed – and did not like – while the M5-481TG is just a smaller version. 

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That leaves the ASUS UX32 and its GT 620M which, although likely quicker than Intel HD 4000, isn’t sufficient for serious gaming.

Hopefully NVIDIA will be able to bring discrete graphics to more products from larger manufacturers, but the fact so few companies have gone this route suggests there is some underlying reason. My personal guess? Heat. The Acer Aspire M3 became quite toasty during load. It’ll be interesting to see if the U244N has some design trick that makes the GT 650M manageable – or if Gigabyte, like Acer, doesn’t mind putting out a laptop with high exterior temperatures. 

Source: Nvidia

Alienware Getting Latest NVIDIA Kepler Cards to Continue Delivering Maximum Performance for Gamer

Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 5, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: alienware, dell, gtx 680m, GTX 690, Ivy Bridge, aurora, m17x, m18x

Alienware has also contributed to the lack of GTX690s and GTX680M chips by filling their latest gaming PCs and laptops with NVIDIA's new Kepler chips.  Paired with an Ivy Bridge processor the new M17x and M18x along with the Aurora desktop will offer incredible performance for anyone willing to pay the price.  Both laptops will support 3D though only the M18x offers you the choice of dual GTX 680Ms in SLI. 

A little over a month ago, we announced the first wave of major hardware upgrades for our Alienware line of laptops based on the newest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and also NVIDIA GeForce 6-series cards. Since then, NVIDIA has certainly kept busy as they continue to introduce more members of the next-generation Kepler family such as the GTX 690, GTX 670, and most recently, the GTX 680M.

By the time you read this, NVIDIA will have finally revealed the details of their GTX 680M from Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan. The GTX 680M is based on the GK104 Kepler architecture and features similar silicon to its beefy desktop version, the GTX 680. NVIDIA calls this card the ‘fastest, most advanced gaming notebook GPU ever built’ and we have little reason to argue otherwise.

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On the flip side of that power-packed coin, customers who order a system with the GTX 680M will also see greater improvements to power efficiency utilizing NVIDIA’s Optimus technology which enables long battery life by automatically switching on the dedicated GPU only when necessary. All in all, the GTX 680M paves the way for superior next-gen mobile gaming performance and makes the most of the additional technologies below that can only be found on GeForce GPUs:

  • Adaptive V-sync – newly developed technology for a smoother gameplay experience
  • Advanced AA modes – for crisper images, including NVIDIA FXAA and new TXAA
  • PhysX support – for accelerated in-game physics
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 technology – for bigger, brighter, more comfortable 3D gaming
  • 3DTV Play software – for connecting notebooks to 3DTVs for the most immersive gaming experience to be had in a living room
  • NVIDIA SLI technology – for up to double the gaming performance. Two GeForce GTX 680M GPUs in SLI mode represent the fastest notebook graphics solution available anywhere
  • CUDA technology support – for high-performance GPU computing applications

We are particularly proud to be a launch partner with NVIDIA for the GTX 680M. The Alienware M17x will be available with the GeForce GTX 680M 2GB DDR5 GPU along with the option for the NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. The Alienware M18x will also be available with the GeForce GTX 680M GPU in single or dual-card SLI configurations before the end of the month.

The Alienware M17x and M18x aren’t the only two products getting the Kepler kick, and they certainly won’t be the last. Before the end of the month, we will have configuration options to allow users to equip their custom built Aurora with the newly released GeForce GTX 690.

Based on many of the initial reviews of the GTX 690 as can be seen Anandtech and Hot Hardware, most people have drawn one consistent conclusion; the GTX 690 is easily the most powerful single-card GPU they have ever tested. With that level of graphical power and performance, we have been working with NVIDIA to offer the GTX 690 in our Alienware Aurora R4 desktops in order to equip our ultimate gaming machines with even more processing power.

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The GeForce GTX690 is certainly a fantastic and ridiculously powerful pairing for the Alienware Aurora. The GTX 690 brings all the performance of a dual GTX 680 SLI setup while drawing less power and outputting less noise – all while staying within the same thermal levels. Considering that the Aurora uses a mini-ITX board, the GTX 690 allows for users to enjoy the pinnacle of dual-card performance without having to deal with PCI-e slot spacing, drastic thermal levels, or slim dual card watercooled GPU blocks.

Again, expect the GTX 680M on the M17x/M18x and GTX 690 to be available for the Alienware Aurora R4 worldwide before the end of the month on Alienware.com or also Dell.com.

Source: Alienware

NVIDIA Announces New GTX 680M, The World’s Fastest Mobile GPU

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, laptop, gtx, gpu

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NVIDIA recently revised its notebook GPU lineup, but there was one part notably missing – the GTX 680M. The x80M part has been NVIDIA’s fastest mobile GPU in each generation for some time, so we knew that a GTX 680M was coming. We had only two questions. When? And what architecture will it be based on?

Now we have the answers to both questions. NVIDIA has pulled the wraps off its flagship component. The new GTX 680M is a Kepler component (unlike other high-end 600 series parts, which are Fermi) packing 1344 CUDA cores and up to 4GB of GDDR5. 

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The green team is laying out some big numbers in its press release by claiming that performance is up about 80% in comparison to the GTX 580M and 30% in comparison to the AMD Radeon 7970M. NVIDIA also says that the new part will play every game available today at 1080p with maximum in-game settings. 

Other selling points include NVIDIA’s FXAA and TXAA, Adaptive V-Sync, Optimus, SLI, PhysX and 3D Vision. The company is clearly making a strong effort to distinguish itself from AMD not only with performance but also with features. 

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Five launch laptops were announced. They include the Alienware M17x and M18x, the MSI GT70 and the Clevo P150EM/P170EM. The Clevo units are the chassis used by companies like Maingear, Origin and other boutiques. Only the M18x has confirmed SLI support and only the M17x has confirmed 3D Vision support. Pricing has not been announced. 

We will of course be looking to obtain a review unit so we can see if the GTX 680M is as mightly as claimed. 

Source: Nvidia

ASUS shows Tablet 810 and 600 using Intel Clover Trail and Tegra 3, Windows 8

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 rt, windows 8, tegra 3, tablet 810, tablet 600, computex, clover trail, asus

Haven't had enough tablets yet?  ASUS hopes that's the case as they continue to release products using Windows 8 with the fresh touch interface.  First up, Anandtech tells us about the new ASUS 810 tablet using the Intel Clover Trail x86 SoC.

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Image source: Anandtech.com

The 810 will include an 11.6-in screen with a 1366x768 resolution IPS display - we have seen almost all of the new Clover Trail based tablets using this low resolution likely due to the underpowered graphics power of the 32nm Intel graphics powering them.  ASUS also includes 2GB of memory, 64GB of solid state storage, 8MP and 2MP cameras and support for NFC (near field communications).  

Much like the Transformer brand of tablets ASUS has made popular already, the 810 (and the 600 below) will offer keyboard / battery docks. 

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Image source: Anandtech.com

The ASUS Tablet 600 will also run Windows 8, but the RT (ARM) version, and will be powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad-core SoC.  This model will also have 2GB of memory but will drop to 32GB of local storage and include the 8MP and 2MP cameras.  The 10.1-in screen will keep the 1366x768 resolution and it can take advantage of the optional keyboard dock.  

If you continue to be interested in the ASUS 600 tablet, the first Windows 8 RT Tegra 3 powered device, check out the video demonstration created by NVIDIA below.

Source: Anandtech

ASUS Transformer Book is Ultrabook and detachable tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 11:35 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, transformer book, Transformer, tablet, computex, asus

Another in a line of announcements from ASUS today is the Transformer Book, an Ultrabook with a detachable tablet.  I find it interesting that ASUS chose to go with the "Transformer" brand for this machine that is x86 and Windows based rather than ARM and Android based.  Engadget has a lot of photos and details, including information about the hardware included within: an Intel Ivy Bridge-based Core i5/i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD for storage and 11, 13 and 14-in screen sizes.  

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Image source: Engadget.com

Since these are taking the Ultrabook name we have a general idea of the physical traits including the thickness and performance found within.  In the standard notebook mode we can see the Transformer Book with its high resolution screen, backlit keyboard and single surface touchpad. 

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Image source: Engadget.com

The design of the Transformer Book is very familiar to users that have seen other Transformer tablet models.  One interesting aspect noted by Anandtech is that the base of the Book (the keyboard and touchpad) will actually include a discrete graphics chip leaving the tablet alone to operate on the Ivy Bridge graphics alone.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Here is the Transformer Book in its tablet-only form and it should operate like just about any Windows 8-based device. 

I am very interested to hear about the battery life of these Ivy Bridge-based tablet devices and how much of an extension you'll get when utilizing the keyboard base. 

Check out the video from Engadget below!

Source: Anandtech

ASUS shows TAICHI convertible notebook and tablet with dual displays

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus

ASUS always does a good job of showcasing unique devices at its Computex press conference and apparently this year is really no different.  One of the biggest announcements was for the TAICHI device, a dual-display Ultrabook that is actually a convertible notebook and tablet device running Windows 8.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Available in both an 11-in and 13.3-in version, the ASUS TAICHI products will both include a 1920x1080 screen resolution (on both back and front displays actually).  When open, the TAICHI works like any other notebook with an Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD, 802.11n and dual cameras.  However, when you close the screen and activate the BACK display, you then operating with the Windows 8 operating system in a classic tablet form.

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Image source: Engadget.com

Engadget is reporting that both displays can even be used at the same time if you wanted to share the device with a friend across the table.  Connectivity is there in abundance with mini-VGA, USB 3.0 and more. 

Source: Engadget

HP Updates EliteBook Lineup With Ivy Bridge Notebooks

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: notebook, Ivy Bridge, hp, elitebook, business

HP has updated its EliteBook lineup by adding three new Ivy Bridge powered notebooks. The 14” 8470W, 15.6” 8570W, and 17.3” 8770W notebooks all pack either dual core Core i5 or quad core Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors and discreet graphics cards. They will each be available for purchase in June for prices starting at $1,329, $1,449, and $1,699 USD for the 8470W, 8570W, and 8770W respectively.

HP has announced an update to its business W-series EliteBook lineup that includes Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors and recent discreet graphics cards. The new EliteBooks nestle the hardware in a dust resistant magnesium aluminum chassis with other nice features like glass touchpads and aluminum-alloy hinges. The 15.6” and 17.3” models can further be outfitted with an optional IPS “HP DreamColor” display. Other technology supported by the EliteBook W-series includes Intel’s Smart Response Technology, SRS Premium Sound PRO, and HP Performance Advisor.

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The HP 8470W notebook features a 14” diagonal HD display (though the press release did not state a specific resolution), an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, and AMD FirePro workstation-class graphics. The HP 8570W and HP 8770W are larger versions of the EliteBook line that can be upgraded beyond that of the HP 8470W with SSD options, Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors, NVIDIA Quadro Kepler-based series graphics, and IPS displays. The new notebooks also support USB 3.0 and up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM.

The three notebooks will be available later this month for prices starting at $1,329 for the HP 8470W, $1,449 for the 8570W, and $1,699 USD for the 8770W. Personally, they are bit too “boxy” looking for my liking, but they otherwise look pretty sleek (I am really liking the brushed metal texture and laptop lid design) for business-class machines! More photos of the HP laptops can be found here.

Source: HP

Computex: Acer Unveils Two New ICONIA Windows 8 Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: video, windows 8, tablet, iconia w700, iconia w510, computex, acer

Acer–a computer OEM mostly known in the US for its tablets and notebooks–today announced two new ICONIA W series tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Sporting IPS displays and a white chassis finish, they provide plenty of connectiivity options in a sleek package. Unfortunately, the company is not yet talking about specifications, pricing, or availability. Acer is currently showing off the tablets at Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Acer has started off Computex 2012 news week with a bevy of product announcements. The latest products being unveiled at the exhibition are two new ICONIA tablets running Windows 8–the ICONIA W510 and W700. Both tablets feature a white colored chassis with dark bezel around the screen on the front face. The front of the tablets include a Windows (key) button and a front facing camera (at least on the W700). From there, the two tablets differ in physical size and available expansion ports. It is unclear if what exactly the internals are in the two tablets as those specifications have not been announced.

The W510 is the smallest of the two with a 10.1” IPS display. It also comes with a dock that features a chiclet keyboard, trackpad, and extra battery that the company claims can extend the tablet’s battery life to up to 18 hours. The dock has one full size USB 2.0 port and a charging port (dock connector). The tablet itself packs a docking port, SIM card and microSD card slots, micro USB connection, headphone audio output jack, and HDMI video output. Further, the ICONIA W510 has two speakers, volume control buttons, an integrated microphone, and power button.

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

On the other hand, the Acer ICONIA W700 features a 11.6” IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution, two bottom edge mounted speakers, front facing camera, microphone, and windows key. Acer has packed the tablet with the latest external IO options including three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, and a headphone output jack. The tablet also has a DC power jack (it must draw more power than USB can give it) and two vents along the top of the tablet. Interestingly, this does suggest that the W700 tablet has much beefier hardware than the 510, which does not have those vents. It will be interesting to see exactly what Acer has managed to pack into the small metal chassis hardware wise!

Another notable difference between the W510 and W700 is the dock. The W700’s dock does not have an integrated keyboard or tackpad. It only acts as a stand (with two small speakers and a windows key) that can be used to prop up the tablet in either portrait or landscape mode.

Engadget managed to get some hands-on time with the two Acer tablets and accompanying docks. You can see a video of the W700 above and photos and a video walk-through of the W510 can be found here. Despite the keyboard-less dock, I’m interested in the W700, though I’ll be waiting for more detailed information on the specifications before getting too excited. Despite my “meh” feeling towards Windows 8 on a desktop, I did like it when paired with a touchscreen convertible tablet, and the slate looked pretty smooth in the video (so I’m hopeful that this will be a solid device). Stay tuned for more detailed specifications as either Acer releases it or someone manages to snag one to take apart.

Source: Engadget

Computex: Acer announces Aspire S7 touchscreen 11-in and 13.3-in Ultrabooks

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, computex, touchscreen, s7, aspire, acer

In what will likely be the first of dozens of such exposes this week, Acer has just announced a pair of Ultrabooks that will fall under the new Aspire S7 brand in both 11-in and 13.3-in screen sizes.  According to a post at Engadget, the new Ultrabooks are actually touch enabled and will support being laid completely flat with a 180 degree hinge. 

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While other details on the specifications seem to be missing from the Computex announcement, we can assume these are going to be Intel Ivy Bridge based designs.  The screens are being called "full HD" which indicates a 1080p resolution that would really help the S7 stand out from other current Ultrabooks (as well as raise the price). 

Battery life is claimed at 9 hours on the 11-in model and 12 hours on the 13.3-in model, though all such claims should be tested before you plop down cash on a preorder. 

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Can someone please explain how laying down a notebook flat is helpful?

The Ultrabook is less than 13mm thick and the chassis is built with a unibody aluminum design which should immediately draw comparisons to the Apple Macbook Pro.  A backlit keyboard and a glass lid on the 13-in model round out our known information on the Aspire S7 but don't expect availability until we see Windows 8 ship sometime this fall.

Source: Engadget

New Matrox DS1 Dock For Macbooks Uses Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 11:08 PM |
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Matrox, macbook, dock, apple

Matrox has recently launched a new Thunderbolt dock aimed at adding desktop peripherals to Apple Macbooks and Ultrabooks. The dock connects via a single Thunderbolt cable (it does require a separate power source as well) and provides one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI video output, audio in/out jacks, and a Gigabit LAN port. It will be available for purchase in September with an MSRP of $249 USD.

Matrox has released a new laptop dock called the Matrox DS1 that is designed to pair with Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks and provide several additional connectivity options. The aluminum chassis is reminiscent of a slimmer WD My Book drive because of the book like shape. The front of the DS1 dock is a Thunderbolt input and status LED. On the back of the dock is a DVI output, three USB ports (one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), microphone input, headphone output, and a Gigabit LAN port. To the far right is a DC power input which means that the dock is a bit less portable than I would like but it is not clear how big of a “wall wart” it will come with.

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The company has stated that the aluminum case should protect the dock in just about every use case, and the additional IO certainly adds much needed connectivity to Ultrabooks where available ports are at a premium. Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Matrox, Alberto Cieri, has been quoted by Apple Insider in stating “The new Matrox DS1 docking station easily enables the creation of an ergonomic workspace and brings much-needed expandability for printers, scanners, storage, smartphones, optical drives, cameras, flash drives, and other peripherals.”

Matrox_DS1_Thunderbolt_Docking_Station_Connections.jpg

The Matrox DS1 will be shown off at Computex 2012 this week in Taipei, Taiwan at Intel’s booth (M0410 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall). After that, it will be shown off at WWDC in San Fransico and Infocomm in Las Vegas on June 12th and June 13th to June 15th respectively. In September of this year it will be available for purchase with an MSRP of $249 USD.

Situations like this are where Thunderbolt really shines, and I would not be surprised to see companies outfitting employees with Ultrabooks for mobile use and a larger monitor and peripherals for in-office use (eschewing a separate desktop machine altogether). The price, especially considering Thunderbolt cables themselves are expensive is going to be the most limiting factor for docks like these despite their usefulness.

Editor's Note: Although Tim didn't mention it, one kind of interesting drawback is that this device does NOT include a Thunderbolt pass through, basically preventing users from taking advantage of the daisy-chain capability TB can offer via a single port / connections on the laptop or computer.

MAINGEAR Unveils Pulse 11 Ultraportable Gaming Notebook

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 03:21 AM |
Tagged:

US-based boutique computer vendor MAINGEAR today announced (no public facing press release was available at time of writing) a new ultraportable notebook that comes packed with hardware to play the latest games on the go. The notebook in question is the Pulse 11, and as the name implies it is an 11” laptop with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA Kepler hardware. Weighing in at 3.97 lbs (~1.8 kg) and packing a 6-cell lithium ion battery, the custom gaming notebook has a mostly plastic chassis, full keyboard minus the numpad, large trackpad under the space bar, and a 11.6” LED-backlit display with 1366x768 resolution (16:9).

Pulse 11 hero stylized.jpg

Despite the plastic chassis, it manages to look nice on the inside as well as the laptop lid–which features a textured pattern and centered MAINGEAR logo. The photo below shows the keyboard and trackpad while the photo above shows off the top of the notebook.

pulse11-hero.png

External IO includes a Gigabit LAN port, VGA output, HDMI output, mic and headphone out ports, two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the notebook, an SD card reader on the front, and a DC power jack, one USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock on the right side. There are no ports on the rear of the laptop as that area is taken up by the large Li-ion battery.

pulse11-leftside.png

The internals of the gaming notebook are the most notable features, however. The Pulse 11 features an Intel Core i7 or i5 Ivy Bridge processor up to a Core i7 3612QM (35W TDP) as well as a NVIDIA GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR3 memory. Even better is that this notebook supports NVIDIA Optimus technology, which means that it can shut down the dedicated GPU while not gaming to save battery power. Other internals include up to 16GB of dual channel DDR3 1600MHz memory, and either one 600GB SSD or 750GB SATA hybrid hard drive (a mechanical hard drive with large flash memory cache).

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The Pulse 11 comes further equipped with an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth card (internal) and a 9-in-1 multimedia card reader. For audio, the notebook features two speakers that are rated for THX TruStudio Pro sound. The gaming notebook runs the Windows 7 Home, Pro, or Ultimate x64 operating system, and can be optionally upgraded to Windows 8 Pro for $15 USD.

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The gaming notebook starts at $999 USD for the base model and goes up from there. It should further be available for purchase starting today (or very soon afterward).

MAINGEAR has stated that its Pulse 11 gaming laptop is “made for gamers looking for a powerful ultraportable that delivers the best of mobile entertainment in its size as well as “the MAINGEAR Pulse 11 was designed to meet the needs of gamers, students, on-the-go digital warriors, and anyone looking for power in the smallest package possible.”

More photos of the Pulse 11 are available below:

Source: MAINGEAR

Macbooks With Retina Displays Coming, At A Premium

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: retina display, resolution, notebook, macbook, apple

Late last year, we covered rumors releating to Apple’s Macbook Pro notebooks that hinted at future versions with high pixel density retina displays. Recent rumors suggest that DigiTime’s sources were not far from the truth, and retina displays may be coming to both the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks.

According to Hexus.net, a senior display analyst, has been talking with Cnet on when such high resolution displays will be available. Allegedly, the display panels are already being supplied to Apple at an additional cost to Apple of $100 and $60 for the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks respectively. The most likely source of these panels is Samsung (and possibly LG), as they have experience producing the retina displays for Apple’s iPad tablets.

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Reportedly, the 15.4” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2880x1800, which amounts to 220 pixels per inch. On the other hand, the 13.3” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2560x1600–a resolution normally reserved for ~30” desktop monitors. With 2560x1600 in a 13.3” display, that amounts to just under 227 PPI (268.98). For the 15.4” Macbook, the retina display has a PPI that is twice that of the current model’s display resolution of 1440x900 (110 PPI).

Fortunately for everyone without hawk-vision, Apple’s OS X operating system has been engineered to be resolution independent, and will keep icons and text on screen an appropriate size (rather than it becoming miniscule due to the much higher resolution display).

Lastly, the source indicated that the displays would use more power, which sounds resonable considering the GPU would have to drive more pixels, and the backlight would have more work to do as well. In our previous article, and in internal discussions, we have been eagerly waiting for Apple to come out with these displays. We hope that Apple jumping into it as a premium feature will help to nudge other PC manufacturers in the same direction of higher pixel densities. Its obvious that the technology is there, but I think that it will be up to Apple whether or not it will catch on (as other PC makers do not seem eager to reduce profit margins with higher resolution displays). Sure, we won’t be seeing retina displays in budget laptops running windows, but it would be nice to have the option in ultrabooks and other premium PC laptops running Windows at some point.

Source: Hexus

Video Perspective: AMD A10-4600M vs Core i7-3720QM on Diablo III

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m

So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.  That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III.  Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.

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In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU.  Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel. 

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The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do.  With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec.  The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase. 

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We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results.  We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below.  Enjoy!

Gigabyte Launches Ultra Portable Notebook Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:24 AM |
Tagged: x11, ultrabook, u2442, u2440, notebook, gigabyte

Gigabyte, a company mostly known for its motherboard manufacturing, has announced a new lineup of small and lightweight notebooks. Among the new systems are the X11, U2442, and U2440 notebooks. Running Windows 7 and powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, the ultra-portables pack plenty of power.

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The X11 is an ultra-lightweight 11.6” notebook at 975 grams and .3cm at it’s thinnest point (1.65cm at its thickest point). Constructed of carbon fiber, it was built using a woven diamond technique that resulted in it being lightweight while maintaining rigidity. It is powered by an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and 128GB SSD. It further comes with USB 3.0 and Bluethooth 4.0 connections. A 16:9 LED backlit display connected via an aluminum hinge is another feature of this laptop. Intel’s Rapid Start and Anti-Theft technologies and a Smart Recovery system are also built in.

Gigabyte U2442.jpg

For those that require dedicated graphics, Gigabyte has also launched a 14” notebook with NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M or GT 640M graphics cards. The U2442 weighs in at 1.57kg and ranges in thickness from 18.5-21mm. The computer also uses Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, but the larger form factor has allowed Gigabyte to give the notebook a dual vent design for the GPU and CPU respectively. It also comes with a 1600x900 LED backlit display, backlit keyboard, and THX TruStudio Pro audio technology. The U2442 notebook further has a 128GB mSATA SSD paired with a 750GB hard drive as well as WiFi, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, and HDMI 1.4 connectivity. The “Champagne Gold” colored cover has a brushed aluminum texture that looks nice as well. No carbon fiber here, but it does look to be all aluminum.

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Finally, the U2440 is designed to be less powerful–but more portable–than the U2442. This 14” notebook comes with an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics card, optical disc drive, 1TB mechanical hard drive, and a mSATA slot for SSD upgrades. The system has taken a downgrade on display resolution versus the U2442 with only 1366x768 pixels. It supports up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, 802.11n WiFi, and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. Further, the U2440 has 1 USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, RJ45, microphone input, and headphone output ports. The U2440 comes in a dark gray colored chassis with a brushed aluminum texture on the notebook lid.

As far as pricing and availability, the X11 carbon fiber notebook will be available in July with street prices ranging from $999 to $1299 USD. The U2442 will also retail for between $999 and $1299 USD, but it will be available sooner–towards the middle of June. The U2440 isn’t as light as the X11, or as powerful as the U2442 but it has both of those systems beat on price. The U2440 will have street pricing that starts at $699 USD before tax and will be available for purchase at the end of June.

They seem like interesting systems, and they look nice as well. What do you guys think of the Gigabyte notebooks?

Source: Gigabyte

Dell leaks specs for Latitude 10, Windows 8 and Intel Clover Trail powered tablet

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 29, 2012 - 11:33 AM |
Tagged: z2670, windows 8, dell, clover trail, atom

In a leaked slide posted by Neowin.net, details of Dell's upcoming Latitude 10 tablet are coming to light, including hardware specifications like the Intel Atom Z2670 "Clover Trail" SoC. 

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This 10.1-in Windows 8 based tablet will include a 1366x768 display with a capacitive multi-touch screen and an optional stylus accessory.  Weighing in at just over 1.5 pounds, the Latitude 10 is just slightly heavier than the latest generation of iPad (1.46 pounds). 

Intel's upcoming Atom processor, the Z2670, will be at the core of the design and will be based on the "Clover Trail" design, a slightly faster and updated version of "Medfield" we have seen implemented on mobile phones early in 2012.  With dual-cores capable of HyperThreading, and the ability to enter into "Burst Mode" which offers "quick bursts of extra performance when called upon", the Atom Z2670 should be capable of presenting a reasonable Windows 8 experience.  

Other specifications include 2 GB of DDR2-800 lower power memory, up to a 128 GB SSD, 2 and 4 cell swappable batteries and front plus rear facing cameras.  

With Computex 2012 right around the corner in Taipei, Taiwan, we expect to see quite a few more tablets and hybrid machines based on Windows 8 including Intel Atom-powered devices as well as ARM-based devices running Windows 8 RT. 

Source: Neowin.net

HP to cut 27k jobs over 2 years. More depressing layoff news.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 26, 2012 - 03:10 AM |
Tagged: hp

ZDNet reports that HP will cut 27,000 jobs over the next two years which represents approximately 8 percent of their global staffing. The company claims that it will take those savings -- which are expected to be slightly over 3 billion dollars -- and re-invest them in research and development.

Yes that is right: 27k as in 27,000 jobs over two years.

CEO Meg Whitman made a statement that over the next couple of years HP will cut around eight percent of their workforce to refocus on research and development. They expect that with their projected cuts they will be able to recover $3-3.5 billion from wages to spend on their research into “cloud and big data” technologies.

Let us hope that they can keep their projected revenue even with the lessened workforce.

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So many printers -- but none print money.

And let us just think about the announcement for another second. The expectation is to lay off all those employees over the course of two years to reduce the short-term morale dip.

So instead you have practically all of your employees dust off their resumes in case their Russian roulette chance is not an empty chamber?

Congratulations HP -- you now probably have a company full of paranoid personnel.

Once again the loss of jobs is under 10 percent and thus I hesitate to make any guesses about the health of HP as a company. My general rule of thumb is that you can very loosely tell how bad a company is off depending on how many employees they lay off percentage wise. Up to approximately 10 percent is tragic but somewhat standard restructuring for a larger company. Up to 30 percent is seriously hard times. Approximately 100 percent means the company is either attempting to reboot or get picked apart for liquidation.

Again, that is just my rule of thumb when I look at these stories.

Source: ZDNet

NVIDIA Shows New ASUS Zenbook Prime UX32VD with GT 620M GPU

Subject: Mobile | May 25, 2012 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: zenbook, ux32vd, ultrabook, optimus, gt 620m, asus

The lucky dogs at The Verge got their hands on a sexy new Ultrabook coming from ASUS very soon while attending the NVIDIA investors day this week.  The Zenbook Prime UX32VD will feature a 13-in 1920x1080 resolution IPS display in addition to the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M Kepler-based GPU.  Optimus Technology will obviously be included in order to allow the GPU to completely power off when you aren't gaming or taking advantage of it for the best battery life the platform can muster.

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The word is that it will ship with a Core i5 ULV Ivy Bridge processor and be priced somewhere around $1299.  The shape of the UX32VD is just slightly different than that of the current wave of Zenbooks, with a "bit of a chin" according to The Verge's Sean Hollister.  ASUS' upcoming machine will include three USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort and an audio jack for a fairly complete connectivity suite. 

You can see many more photos of the Zenbook Prime UX32VD at The Verge's gallery.

With discrete GPUs being heavily pushed by NVIDIA, even on Ultrabook designs, we are very eager to see what all the major notebook vendors are able to come up with for Computex next month.

Source: The Verge

The Facebook Browser -- a soap Opera

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 25, 2012 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged:

A source for Pocket-Lint claims that Facebook is looking to purchase Opera for a branded web browser. There is still question about whether Opera wants to sell or whether Facebook is able to muscle market share away from Google, Firefox, and Microsoft.

I, personally, find this rumor quite difficult to believe.

I could see Facebook being able to push a web browser -- they have the money and the user-base -- and I could see the deal but not expect it. Facebook would need to push for a web browser and Opera would need to sell.

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That said, with what goes on Facebook -- all we would need is Tide ads.

The main reason why this news sounds fictitious is because it occurred so close to the IPO. Going public would not contribute to the ability or desire for Facebook to acquire Opera. If it would not contribute to the acquisition then it is easy to assume it contributed to the rumor…

It is also unclear whether the source suggests that Facebook would like to purchase Opera and/or whether Opera would like to be purchased by Facebook.

I could see Facebook desiring to own a browser but this whole rumor does not smell right. Facebook is still quite good friends with Microsoft and I would expect that getting further involved in the Internet Explorer market share would be more desirable for the time being.

Source: Pocket Lint