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

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

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

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

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

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

ASUS Vivo Tab

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

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

ASUS Vivo Tab RT

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

Asus Vivo Windows 8 Tablet.jpg

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

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

Comparison of ASUS' Transformer-style tablets
  ASUS Vivo Tab ASUS Vivo Tab RT ASUS Transformer Prime ASUS Transformer Infinity
Processor/SoC Intel Atom NVIDIA Tegra 3 NVIDIA Tegra 3 NVIDIA Tegra 3
RAM 2GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
Internal Memory 64GB 32GB 32GB 64GB
Display 10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768 11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768 10.1" IPS @ 1280x800 10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200
Camera(s) 8MP rear, 2MP front 8MP rear, 2MP front 8MP rear, 1.2MP front 8MP rear, 2MP front
Size 8.7mm thick 8.3mm thick 10.4" x 7.1" x .3" 10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)
Weight 675g 520g 589.67g 598g

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Engadget

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

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

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

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

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

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

gfwl.png

Shattered Windows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IFA - XPS 10.jpg

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

XPS Duo 12 convertible Ultrabook with Windows 8.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Dell

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

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

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

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

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

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Wireless Charging Technology – One Step Closer to Reality

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

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

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

Picture2-300x204.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

 

Source: Intel

NVIDIA Shows Unreal Engine 3 Running On Windows RT Tablet

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

Source: NVIDIA

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

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

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

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

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

Windows Phone 8 Start Screen.jpg

Image credit: CNET.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Verge

Synaptics Announces New TouchPads And Keyboards

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

forcepad.jpg

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

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

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

thintouch.jpg

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

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

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

Source: Synaptics

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

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

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

ph_odroidx.jpg

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

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Source: Phoronix

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

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

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

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

Nook Family Price Cuts:

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

 

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

Nook Tablet.JPG

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

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

Source: Maximum PC

Lenovo Planning Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT Tablets

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

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

thinkpad-tablet-2-press5_1020_gallery_post.jpg

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

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

DSC_7526-hero_gallery_post.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Verge

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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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