Origin Shows New Laptop Design, Phase Change Cooled Desktop

Subject: Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: Overclocked, origin, laptop, desktop, cooling, CES

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Origin is one of the big names in the boutique custom PC business, and this CES the company is once again striving to prove why it deserves such credentials. I stopped by the company’s suite and saw something cool, something practical, and something jaw-dropping. 

Let’s save the best for first: Origin showed a Genesis system powered by a phase change cooling system built into the case. As a result of this system, the company is able to deliver cooling at temperatures nearing -40 degrees Celsius. The system also draws so much power that they could only run one at once – running both the phase change systems in the suite could be more than the room can handle.

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With the processor’s thermals taken care of, Origin is able to overclock up to two core of the Core i7 3960X to 5.7 GHz, while the rest can be clocked up to 5.3 GHz. This is well above the base speed of 3.3 GHz and in the realm of speeds you’d expect to see in competitions.

The rest of the system is also technically impressive. Four 3GB GTX580s running in SLI are shoved in next to 12GB of RAM and two Corsair SSDs in RAID0. This impressive hardware allows the system to post a score of 6,613 in PCMark 7 and 23,014 in 3DMark 11 (with the video cards overclocked to 950 MHz).

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What I found most interesting about the system, however, was Origin’s extreme attention to detail. They implemented a red-white-black theme that is conveyed not only by the motherboard and the video card but also the cooling tubes, heatsinks and even the numerous PCIe power cables sending juice to the GTX580s. Nothing was overlooked, and the result is a system that is sure to make any hardcore geek salivate.

Pricing is not available yet for this high-end configuration. Availability is expected to be around February or March.   

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Origin also has their cool new laptop designs on display. Like most boutique PC companies, the laptop chassis used by Origin is a generic design (by Clevo, I believe). However, the new Origin EON15-S and EON17-S will be using custom lid panels with a look that is somewhat reminiscent of muscle car’s hood. 

The glossy prototype versions shown by Origin looked a bit cheap, but the company says the final product version will be matte. If so, these could be some sharp looking systems. Of course, the internals are as quick as ever – the EON17-S shown features a Core i7-2960XM overclocked to 4.5 GHz.

The company’s last announcement doesn’t involve a system, but rather a practial feature for customers - support. Origin is now offering free 24/7 lifetime support for its customers. This is retroactive, so previous customers now qualify for this assistance. Better still, the support is entirely US based. You won’t have to worry about your concerns being lost in translation. It is refreshing to encounter a company that is adding customer service and support rather than stripping it away. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Origin

CES 2012: Windows 8 pre-beta hands-on at The Verge

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2012 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, microsoft, CES 2012, CES

It is no secret that Microsoft is not attending the next CES and they stated publicly that there will be minimal announcements relative to what we typically expect. While that is all true, Microsoft still has some news at the show to be indulged upon. Tim has already covered the upcoming release of Kinect to Windows for approximately the price of an entry-level 2GB RAM dual-core laptop; Microsoft had a piece of NVIDIA’s keynote to discuss Windows on ARM; and Microsoft showed a newer build of Windows 8. The Verge spent some time with a Microsoft representative and took video to show for it. Find out the future for the mice that are not just going to stick with Windows 7.

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Tiled of feeling blue?

Personally, I am not the biggest mobile user in the world: the majority of what I use my laptop for is to install a new version of Ubuntu, and even then I often skip versions. My cellphone usage is pay-as-you-go with $100 dollars on my account per year and somewhere around $90 of that expires or rolls over to the next year. I am not against mobile computing; I am just never in a situation where I need to use it. Keep those points in mind while I discuss Windows 8.

I am going to ignore the ability to re-skin the start screen despite it being a much desired feature. The more important development from an examination standpoint is how Microsoft expects the mouse and keyboard will fill in with Windows 8. You are able to navigate through the Metro interface left and right using your scroll wheel or alternatively hold ctrl to zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. Also on display is the top-to-bottom swipe gesture to kill an application for touchscreen users. Check them out in action for yourself at The Verge.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

Razer Shows Gaming Laptop, Prototype Gaming Tablet and More at CES

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: tablet, razer, mouse, laptop, keyboard, gaming, CES

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Gaming peripheral company Razer is already well known for its gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and other gadgets. But if CES 2012 is any indication, they’re far from content making products that go along with gaming devices.

You’ve probably already heard of the Project Fiona gaming tablet. It made quite a splash at CES when it was announced last night, and today I had a chance to inspect it up close and personal. 

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Unfortunately they’re keeping the prototype in a glass case to protect it, but handling it would not reveal much information anyway. Razer has made it clear that the device is only a prototype and will be revised significantly before release. Everything from the display resolution to the controllers could change, and the company is encouraging feedback to help them refine the final concept. 

The only thing that seems concrete is the pricing. Razer is very confident that the final product will be sold for under $1000. I doubt it will provide amazing hardware at that price, but this was never going to be the system of choice for playing Battlefield 3 regardless of what’s inside. The finalized version of Project Fiona is targeted for release this year.

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Another system being built by Razer is the Blade laptop, a product that was announced several months ago but is now finalized and should be on store shelves in February. The Blade is a thin and portable 17-inch laptop built for mobile gaming. Despite the large display it weighs about 6.5 pounds and is less than an inch thick. 

Unlike a normal laptop, the blade doesn’t have a touchpad below the keyboard. Instead the Blade replaces the numpad with a multi-touch display and ten programmable LCD keys. Mouse navigation takes place using the multi-touch display, but if you’d like it can also be used for other tasks including web browsing and recording macros. Razer is also working with game developers to make it possible for games to display customized information and controls.

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The Blade comes equipped with a Core i7 dual-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics and 8GB of RAM. These specifications are disappointing in light of the $2799 price tag. Razer tried to play down the hardware, insisting that hardcore gamers looking for a mobile machine will be more concerned with the laptop’s portability and customizable mutli-touch display than raw power. 

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Also shown was a full set of new Star Wars: The Old Republic peripherals. Of these the most notable is the keyboard, which features Star Wars design ques and a multi-touch display identical to the one on the Razer Blade laptop. Players will be able to bind abilities to the customizable LCD keys and see game information via the display. There’s a lot of possibility here, but it doesn’t come cheap – you’ll have to part with $249 to snag this keyboard.

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Last is Razer’s new Hex mouse. It is similar to the Razer Naga, but six larger buttons in a hex format have replaced the columns of programmable buttons. Razer says that this design works better with action-RPGs and specifically referenced Diablo 3 as a game they had in mind when designing the mouse. The Hex will use Synapse 2.0, Razer’s cloud device profile service. An unlimited number of custom profiles can be stored on remote servers (hosted by Amazon) and they are automatically downloaded to the Hex when it is plugged in to a new computer. Pricing is set at $79.99 with availability expected in February. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Razer

Hands-on With the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: xps, ultrabook, dell, CES

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There are many ultrabooks, but not all of them are given a specific introduction by Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini. That honor was reserved for Dell’s new XPS 13 during Tuesday's Intel keynote. So what’s so special about it?

To find out, we meet with Dell representatives packing not only the new XPS 13 but also a number of competing ultrabooks. One of the main points that Dell made during the Intel keynote was that the XPS 13’s Gorilla Glass display allows for thin bezels, in turn reducing overall display size and allowing for a reduction in the laptop’s dimensions. Though it has a 13” display, it is much smaller than many other thin laptops such as the MacBook Air and the ASUS UX31.

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The use of Gorilla Glass combined with the XPS 13’s machined aluminum lid creates a rigid structure. Some ultrabooks available today have problems with display flex, as Dell demonstrated with a Toshiba Protégé ultrabook they brought along. Another smart decision is the XPS 13’s display hinge, which is nearly as wide as the chassis. A large hinge such as this reduces display wobble, a problem that can occur when typing on some ultrabooks.

The bottom of the XPS 13 is made of carbon fiber covered with soft-touch paint. I asked Dell’s representatives if the entire bottom of the chassis was carbon fiber, something I doubted due to reasons of cost. They insisted that it was. 

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Using carbon fiber of course saves weight, but in this case it isn’t used to provide an ultrabook that is lighter than anything else on the market. At about 3 pounds, the XPS 13 is only on par with the competition. Instead, the weight savings appears to have been re-invested in the use of sturdier materials, such as the wide hinge that I mentioned earlier.

Open the XPS 13 and you’ll be introduced to a black interior coated in soft touch paint identical the bottom of the chassis. The contrast between the interior and the silver aluminum creates a complimentary aesthetic that reminds me of a tuxedo. Using the soft touch paint also gives the laptop a warmer, more inviting feel. I am a little worried that the paint will end up absorbing oils from your hands over time, but it looks and feels great when new. 

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As for the keyboard, well – it’s average. It uses plastic keys with a semi-touch coat in the typical island style, creating the laptop’s least attractive feature. Mind you, key feel is okay and there’s nothing functionally wrong, but I do think flatter keys with a completely matte finish would have been more appropriate. Backlighting is standard and turns on automatically when the webcam detects a low-light environment. Quality was a bit hard to judge during my time with the device because we were in a brightly lit area. 

Touchpad quality struck me as excellent. It’s large and integrates the left/right buttons into the touchpad itself. Materials match the surrounding palmrest in color. I had only a few chances to try multi-touch scrolling, but it seemed to work well.

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Standard equipment includes a Core i5 low-voltage processor and a 128GB solid state drive. As a result, the laptop boots within about 10 seconds and can resume in between 1 and 2 seconds. These are not Dell’s official claims, but rather what I observed personally. Display resolution is the standard 1366x768. I can’t say much about quality as I didn’t have the chance to view test images. 

Dell has included a 47Wh battery in the XPS 13, which should provide up to 9 hours of battery life. This claim is made during testing with WiFi off and should be viewed as a best-case scenario. I anticipate that we’ll see about 6 hours of life during standard usage with WiFi on. If the XPS 13 can manage that, it will be above average for the category. 

Pricing starts at $999, which is less than I expected given the quality of this device. Because ultrabooks all have extremely similar hardware it is traits like design and battery life that will distinguish the winners from the losers. From my brief time with the XPS 13, it seems Dell may have one of the winners. I will be looking to grab a review unit over the next few weeks so the laptop can be tested in full.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Dell

LucidLogix Announces XLR8 Tech To Improve Embedded and SoC GPU Performance

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES

Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.

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According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."

The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.

If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners.  Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements.  Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Intel Aims For ARM With New x86 Smartphone Reference Design

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 01:46 AM |
Tagged: x86, smartphone, Intel, CES, Android

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What do you do if you’re a big company with lots of money, but are having trouble convincing manufacturers to adopt your technology in their products because your competitors are already established in the market?

You build the product yourself.

That’s what Intel has done with its new smartphone reference platform. Revealed at the company’s keynote by CEO Paul Otellini, the reference platform is a fully functional smartphone running an x86 port of Android. It was demonstrated at the keynote and used to play games, watch video and output video to a monitor via HDMI.

Intel has been down this many times before, of course, but never had much success. That was before a fully functional reference platform was made available, however.  The device shown today could potentially be put on store shelves as-is (after a few more months of testing, perhaps). It is thin, it is light, it has a 4-inch display with a resolution of 1024x600 and it runs Android.  This is no thick and bulky test mule – it’s a functional example that can be used by vendors as a starting point so they don’t have to build a device from the ground up.

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Such a strategy can help get Intel’s foot in the door, and in fact already has. After showing the reference design, Otellini announced a multi-year “strategic partnership” with Motorola. If things go as planned, Motorola should be shipping out phones with Intel processors inside them in the second half of this year. 

Lenovo showed another phone even closer to release. Known as the Lenovo K800, it should be out within months. There’s just one problem (for us) – it’s China only. 

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Inside the reference design is an Intel Atom Z2460 running at up to 1.6 GHz. This is not an Atom in brand name only - the architecture is basically the same as any other Intel Atom processor. Unlike almost every other modern smartphone processor, this is a single-core part (for now). 

Though down a core to the competition, Intel suggested that the reference design is generally quicker than all current smartphones. Some early CPU benchmarks from Anandtech seem to back up that assertion. However, the graphics component isn’t up to par with today’s best, a fact that became evident when Intel showed a game demo using the reference device. It looked okay, but was clearly inferior to games running on Tegra 3.

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While the hardware seems to be coming together, software remains a potential roadblock. Intel showed their smartphone running Android 2.3 ported for x86. Because of how Android handles code, most Android apps are compatible despite the change in processor architecture.

Just one problem – some apps make specific references in their code to ARM features, and these apps will not function on x86. Intel is attempting to compensate for that using on-the-fly ARM to x86 code conversion.  It’s hard to judge how well that works without testing it first-hand, but at least Intel has a plan for dealing with the issue. 

My excitement about this announcement is tempered by the lack of available products. Timing is critical. The reference hardware might be quicker than today’s most popular smartphones, but new designs are constantly emerging, each quicker than the last. Releasing this product six months from now may result in a competitive product – but a delay forcing it into the holiday season could yet again spoil Intel’s dreams of smartphone dominance.

But even if Intel’s partners don’t translate this reference platform into products quickly, it at least shows that Intel is headed in the right direction. ARM is entrenched, but Intel has the resources and the engineers required to provide serious competition. CES 2013 could end up being the conference where x86 and ARM devices go toe-to-toe.  

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Intel

Hands-on With a Giant Smartphone - or Small Tablet - The Samsung Galaxy Note

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 12:04 AM |
Tagged: tablet, Samsung, mobile phone, galaxy, CES

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One of the more unusual products debuted by a major manufacturer this CES has to be the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s a 5.3” device that runs Android 2.3 with the Samsung TouchWiz interface.

The Note is unusual because of its size. The 5” to 7” range is a bit of a no man’s land in the world of mobile devices. Such products are considered too small to be a real tablet, but also too large to be a decent phone. Though there have been attempts to enter products in this range, they haven’t sold in huge numbers.

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Apparently, Samsung thinks the market is worth some serious effort. They’re making a big deal of this device – to my eye, it looked as if there were more of these available on the show floor than any product the company offers. And as if to drive the point home, the CES bus I took back from the convention center today – like most of the buses at CES – was wrapped in Samsung Galaxy Note advertisements.

So what’s it like? Well, it’s like a big phone. Or a small tablet. Since it runs Android 2.3 and uses TouchWiz, the interface is basically identical to the rest of Samsung’s massive line of Android phones. Plastic is the material of choice in the construction of the chassis, which doesn’t lend the product a premium feel. 

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It does make the Samsung Galaxy Note light, however. Official numbers put it at 178g (about .4 pounds) which is less than half the weight of your typical 7” tablet.  The thickness of 9.25mm (about .4 inches) doesn’t seem outstanding, but the curved rear cover helps reduce perceived thickness. 

Samsung is known for its mobile displays, and the Note doesn’t disappoint. It uses a Samsung AMOLED with a resolution of 1280x800. This allows the small Note to offer as many or more usable pixels then much larger tablets, and it also contributes to an extremely sharp image. Unfortunately there wasn’t streaming video available to view at the time I used the device, but games look excellent. Maximum display brightness was high, as well. 

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Like the ASUS MeMO, the Note includes a stylus. Useful? Not so far as I can tell. Sure, it does a fine job of accepting handwriting, but I have a hard time seeing this smaller device used as an electronic notepad. Is there really an audience for that outside of some enterprise environments? 

Inside there is a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor as well as 1GB of memory and 16 or 32 gigabytes of internal storage. In my use the device felt smooth, but no more so than most other high-end smartphones I looked at both during CES and before.

The Note is equipped for use with cellular networks including HSPA, 4G LTE and EDGE. North American availability will come via AT&T. Pricing is not announced - $199 is of course typical for high-end handsets, but Samsungs have gone for higher prices before. The $249 to $299 price range (with contract) seems more likely.

Will the Note be a success? Perhaps. Samsung has already sold over a million units in Europe, where the Note was introduced late last year. However, the Note so far is planned to ship in North America without Ice Cream Sandwich support built in (an upgrade will bring it, but there’s no release date). That could be a major knock against the Note. Availability will be in spring, so we’ll soon find out the Note’s fate.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Samsung

Panasonic Launches Ruggedized ToughPad A1 and B1 Tablets

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 11:52 PM |
Tagged: toughpad, tablet, ruggedized, Panasonic, mobile, CES, Android

Panasonic dropped a new tablet on us at CES. Literally, they dropped the tablet on stage to show just how tough their new ruggedized ToughPad really is. The A1 and B1 ToughPad tablets are Android powered 10" and 7" tablets rated to be dust and water resistant. Both tablets are MIL-STD-810G and IP65 rated and ready to perform in very extreme work environments.

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The ToughPad A1 is Panasonic's 10" Android tablet and brings some decent hardware to bear. On the outside, the ruggedized exterior and rubberized edges absorb shock and keep dust and water out. The front of the tablet includes a 10" multi-touch display with a resolution of 1024 x 768 and 500 nit brightness. The touchscreen can be used by either finger gestures or an included digitizer. Further, the front of the tablet houses a 2 megapixel front camera as well as microphone, ambient light, accelerometer, and digital compass sensors. The tablet internals include a 1.2 GHz Marvell dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, and optional 3G or 4G modems. A lithium Ion battery rated at 7.4 volts, 4690 mAh is also nestled inside. A microSDHC card slot, micro USB 2.0, and micro-HDMI connector as well as a stylus holder are also present. The device runs Android 3.2 and supports TPM chips and hardware encryption. It weighs 2.1 pounds (the price of going rugged, I suppose) and has an MSRP of $1200 USD.

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The B1 model is the 7" version and will be available in the fall. Exact specifications on this model are not yet known; however, expect it to follow closely in line with it's bigger sibling's dual core processor, 1 GB of RAM, ruggedized exterior, and hefty price tag.

Unfortunately, all I can think about when looking at this tablet is how the heck Panasonic expects to sell this for $1200 bucks. This is definitely not a consumer tablet and moreso something businesses will invest in for workers in harsh (to electronics anyway) environments.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2012: Razer's Project Fiona -- PC Gaming tablet PC tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: razer, CES 2012, CES

If you believe our title to be awkward, please glance downward a little at the concept image. While I do not want to lash on Razer for trying something that no-one has it must be said that aesthetically the concept must be altered. Hardcore PC Gamers are a unique breed, but I expect that even the most bold of gamers would be shy at holding this around in public. Now that we are past the design, let us look at what Razer claims in terms of expected hardware.

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It looks like Razer is fitting a bit into Booth Category One.

Razer is being very careful about giving out too many specific details due to the concept nature of the device, but they suggested that they aim for the following:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 10.1” 1280x800 display
  • Full Screen interface supporting multi-touch “hybrid” for PC Gaming.
  • 3-axis gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer
  • Force feedback
  • Dolby 7.1 surround sound
  • Wifi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0

You should notice a lack of information about the expected video card but the screen resolution paired with the CPU choice should slightly indicate their intent.

What do you think? What changes, if any, would you request before you hand over your wallet?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: RazerZone

CES 2012: MSI GUS II External Thunderbolt Graphics Upgrade System

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: CES, thunderbolt, msi, gus ii, gus, external graphics

While wandering around the MSI suite at The Venetian today I came across a very interesting new device.  The GUS II is an external discrete graphics card dock that connects to a notebook PC (or small-form factor, etc) via a Thunderbolt connection. 

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Thunderbolt is a somewhat new interface that extends the PCI Express bus outside of the machine allowing for performance as high as 10 Gb/s per channel in its full implementation.  Current Intel implementations that ship with the Macbook Air and likely included in the first batch of Thunderbolt-capable Ultrabooks are built around Eagle Ridge that offers two bi-directional channels.  Still, even with a 10 Gb/s rating, we are seeing more than enough bandwidth for a discrete graphics card.

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You can see that device obviously won't fit your new Radeon HD 7970 3GB in there but the GUS II will support cards with as much as 150 watts of power consumption via the included external power brick.  75 watts of power is supplied by the internal PEG slot while the internal 6-pin ATX power connector supplies another 75 watts.

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MSI was running an HD 5770 inside the GUS II on a MacBook Pro running Windows 7.  Unigine Heaven was playing on the graphics card outputs and it was definitely running at speeds and quality settings that the GPU in the Macbook would not have been able to.

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MSI mentioned they were hopeful the price would be in the $150 range which is actually quite a good surprise considering they are going to be including the Thunderbolt cable in the box - an accessory that is notoriously expensive today. 

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All that is holding up the GUS II from release at this point is compatibility and driver support from AMD and NVIDIA.  Because you are essentially adding in another PCI Express graphics card to system that might only have been prepared and QA'd for a single one, there are some issues to work out.  Even with the hardware in a basically complete state, there is no time table for release though hopefully we can get this pushed into the mainstream soon.

Thunderbolt might finally bring us the dockable and upgradeable graphics we have always envisioned for notebooks.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Hands-on with Samsung's New Series 9 Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 05:44 PM |
Tagged:

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Samsung is no stranger to high-end, luxurious laptops. We saw the first Samsung Series 9 at last CES, and even then it was extremely thin and light. Now the company, embracing the incoming wave of ultrabooks, has revised the Series 9 and introduced a new Series 5 ultrabook along side it.

I was not a fan of the original Series 9. Though it was very thin, light and fairly well built, it did not feel as luxurious as its high pricing suggested. This new Series 9, however, does far more to strike my fancy. Like the out-going version, this laptop makes heavy use of a brushed metallic finish to achieve an industrial, durable but still luxurious appearance. 

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While I still find the overall design of the laptop to be a bit cold (a surgeon’s scalpel is the first comparison that comes to mind), those who with a grudge against gloss will love what Samsung is offering.

The display offers a standard resolution of 1600x900 and appeared to be matte on all the floor models I saw. Despite this, image quality appeared good and brightness was high. There’s still not the same “pop” that you find in the very best glossy LCDs, but it’s close. Also notable is the display bezel, which is extremely thin. This reduces the overall size of the laptop.

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Speaking of size, the Series 9 will be available in both 13” and 15” models. Go for the smaller of the two and you’ll only have to carry around 2.5 pounds of weight and deal with about a half-inch of thickness. The 15” weighs 3.5 pounds. Though I did not get the chance to handle the larger model, I expect that it won’t feel much heavier because the extra weight will be spread across a larger chassis.

As for the hardware, well – it’s typical for a high-end ultrabook. You’ll find Core i5 low-voltage processors to be standard along with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid state drive. Pricing starts at $1399. Samsung is boasting that the SSD allows for a boot time of just under 10 seconds. I tested this using one of the floor models and found that the system booted to Windows login in 10.5 seconds. That's close enough for me - and much quicker than your average laptop.

Though I’m personally more excited about the HP Spectre, the Samsung Series 9 will no doubt prove to be a tough competitor. Since the two offer similar hardware and an identical starting price, the battle between them will all come down to design – the flash of the glass-clad Spectre against the more traditional brushed metal of the Series 9.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Samsung

ASUS Transformer Prime and its faithful companion core

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: eee pad, transformer prime, asus, tegra 3

The Tech Report just wrapped up a review of the ever popular EeePad Transformer Prime, the tablet with a keyboard for a dock.  This particular model is updated with the 5-core Tegra 3 processor, which means faster performance and the presence of the ultra-low power GeForce GPU that NVIDIA has been so secretive about.  There were more improvements than simple processing power, a SuperIPS+ mode which makes the screen bright enough to easily read in direct sunlight and more consistent colour reproduction.  The improvements seem to come with a cost as the battery life is less than the previous models although not prohibitively so.  Check out the good and the bad of the first Tegra 3 powered device on the market.

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"With an updated Tegra 3 processor and a sleek new design, the Transformer Prime may be the hottest tablet around. We take a closer look to see if Asus has created another compelling iPad alternative."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Video Perspective: ASUS MeMO 701 and ASUS Transformer Prime TF700T Hands on!

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: CES, transformer prime, tf700t, memo, asus

Matt already posted up a pictorial look at the new ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 701 but I wanted to share a video demonstration we made while visiting the ASUS suite.  Enjoy!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

HP Envy 14 Spectre Offers Glass Design, We Go Hands-on

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, hp, envy, CES

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It’s raining ultrabooks at CES. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for any individual manufacturer to stand out from the crowd. There was one that caught our eye, however – the HP Envy 14 Spectre.

We’ll go in to the specifications in a moment because they’re not what separate the Spectre from the crowd. It’s the design that commands attention. Instead of using an aluminum lid like most competitors HP decided to use lightweight black glass. This instantly distinguishes the laptop from anything else on the market. While most ultrabooks look like MacBook Air clones, the Spectre is unique at first glance.

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UPDATE: We have a video walkthrough of the new HP Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook for you!

You’d think scratches would be a concern, but the scratch-resistant glass used on the lid appears reasonably tough. In fact, it will likely prove more durable than plastic (which tends to scratch) or aluminum (which tends to dent). The only unavoidable issue will be smudging. The floor model had more than a few fingerprints on it. 

Once opened, the Envy 14 reveals a more conventional silver metallic (the palmrest is glass-covered, but remains a metallic silver color) interior similar to the rest of the Envy line. A Beats Audio analog volume knob (along with Beats Audio speakers) ties it in with the new Envy 15 and 17. 

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Although just 20mm (.78) thin, the Envy 14 Spectre seems to offer keyboard feel on par with its larger and thicker cousins without sacrificing the backlight. There’s also a ton of palmrest space and a large touchpad. Multi-touch gestures are among the smoothest available on a Windows laptop. Perhaps the only downside is weight. At 3.79 pounds, it is noticeably heavier than most competitors. While this contributes to the laptop’s luxurious feel it could reduce the convenience of on-the-go use.

HP plans to ship the Envy 14 with Core i5 and i7 low-voltage processors, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB solid state hard drives. A 1600x900 display will be standard. Also included is an NFC chip that will allow for short-range wireless sharing. It’s not a stretch to speculate it could also eventually work with the wireless payment features Intel showed during this morning’s ultrabook conference.

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Battery life is projected to be 9 hours, and while this will no doubt end up being generous, it’s far better than the 6 hour estimates given by most competitors. Battery size may be the reason for the extra weight.

The Envy 14 Spectre will be on sale in February or March at an introductory price of $1399. That’s a lot of money, but initial impressions suggest that laptop is worth the price of admission. Quality is quite possibly better than the MacBook Air. If the display and performance proves to be as good as promised this pricey laptop could be a hit.  

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: HP

Fujitsu Launches New Arrows Line Of Tablets and Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: tablet, smarphone, Japan, fujitsu, CES

Fujitsu showed off a new line of tablet and smartphones at this year's CES 2012. Known as the ARROWS series, the devices are thin, lightweight, run Android 2.3, and more interestingly are waterproof. Currently, the ARROWS series consists of the ES IS12F smartphone and Arrows tablet.

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The Arrows ES IS12F smartphone is an Android 2.3 device measuring 64 x 127 x 6.7mm, and weights 105 grams. The phone features a 4 inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor. Further, the smartphone includes a 5.11 megapixel camera with CMOS sensor, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The software includes the ability to transfer data between the phone and computer using a Wi-Fi network. Corning Gorilla Glass and being water resistance are also features. The water resistance falls under the IPX5/8 designation, which means that the phone is able to function up to a depth of 1.5 meters in tap water for 30 minutes and/or sprayed with water from a nozzle "with a diameter of 6.3mm at a rate of 12.5 liters per minute from a distance of 3 meters for 3 minutes." The smartphone is currently available in Japan in glossy black or red colors. More specifically, the phones will be available in Japan starting January 7th from KDDI Corporation and Okinawa Cellular Telephone Company.

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Meanwhile, the Arrows tablet is a 10" Android machine that the company is currently selling in Japan and is "definitely working" with US suppliers to bring it to the United States. This tablet is waterproof just like their Arrows smartphone, and both Tom's Hardware and Tekzilla noted that it was fully functional after being submerged in a fish tank. Further, the Arrows tablet is powered by a 1 GHz (likely Qualcomm Snapdragon) dual core processor, 16 GB of memory, the Android 3.2 operating system, and a 10" screen with 1280 x 800 resolution. Tom's notes that, while it is not going to overthrow the iPad it is lightweight and a solid performer. Depending on price, it could sell quite well in the states. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or when it will be available in the US. Tekzilla managed to catch a video of the tablet being submerged, which you can see below.

Waterproofing is a useful feature for sure if you are prone to bad luck like me, but more importantly will be pricing. If these devices are priced right they could certainly sell well but they will need to be priced very competitively to catch on.
 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Fujitsu

NVIDIA Shows Tegra DirectTouch and $249 ASUS Tegra 3 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2012 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, mobile, CES

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Much of today’s NVIDIA CES conference focused on small milestones, including the implementation of apps and new app features. The company showed multiplayer LAN gaming, easy access to your PC’s desktop via an app called Splashtop, and highlighted the NVIDIA Tegra Zone curated gaming app store. All of this is interesting – but not new 

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There were a couple tricks up the green team’s sleeves, however. One is a new feature for use with Tegra 3 processors called DirectTouch. This allows the fifth low-power hardware core on Tegra 3 to act as a touchscreen controller. Usually an independent piece of hardware performs this task, and it’s much slower than the low-power Tegra 3 core. As a result, touchscreen sampling speed can be increased by up to three times – allegedly resulting in a smoother touch experience. We’ve yet to see how it pans out in execution, but the idea is promising.

Another interesting piece of tech that will be made available by Tegra 3 is called PRISM. It attempts to compensate for the image fidelity reduction that occurs when a mobile device is used with its display at a low brightness setting.

Availability for both of these features is not yet clear. 

The remaining big announcements came via ASUS. First was the decision to release Ice Cream Sandwich on the Prime today, January 9th.  As of the time of this writing it should be available for download via the built-in OS update functionality of Honeycomb. 

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Second was an ASUS 7” tablet featuring ICS, Tegra 3 and a low $249 price point. Oddly, the tablet was not named at the conference, but it appears to be the ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 370T. To clarify earlier information, the MeMO 171 is the version with a Qualcomm processor, stylus and cellular networking support, while the MeMO 370T offers Tegra 3.

The reasons for being excited about a $249 Tegra 3 tablet are obvious. That’s the same as a Nook Color and not much more than a Kindle Fire – both of which run far older versions of Android (Gingerbread) and use older dual-core OMAP processors.

Last, and unfortunately least, was a demonstration of Windows 8 on a Tegra 3 reference platform. While Microsoft’s new OS looks very sleek on the device, nothing new was announced, nor were new features introduced. It seems we’ll have to wait awhile longer to see products pairing Tegra 3 and Windows 8.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Nokia Lumia 900 With LTE Modem Becomes Official At CES

Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2012 - 10:23 PM |
Tagged: WP7, windows phone 7, nokia ace, nokia, lumia n900, CES

We reported earlier on the rumored Nokia Lumia 900 (aka Nokia Ace) Windows Phone 7 smart phone. We said that it would basically be the Nokia Lumia 800 only a bit bigger and featuring a LTE modem. The Nokia Lumia 900 is now official and the speculation seems to be correct.

The new smart phone made it debut today at a Nokia CES 2012 press conference. An AT&T exclusive, the phone features a cyan blue polycarbonate shell, 4.3" AMOLED screen with 800 x 480 resolution, 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 512 MB of RAM, 8 Megapixel rear camera with Carl Zeiss optics (stated 28mm, f/2.2) and dual LED flash, front facing camera, LTE 4G modem, and a rather spacious 1840mAH battery. Sporting the Windows Phone 7 operating system, the phone has a rated seven hours of talk time and 300 hours of standby time.

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It will be available in either cyan or black colors in the US within the next few months and bound to the AT&T network with "aggressive" pricing. Nokia stated in their conference that it has been working closely with Qualcomm to ensure solid performance on AT&T's LTE network. SIM-free and carrier unlocked phones will also be available; however, it is not clear whether users in the US will be able to purchase them (or if they would need to be imported). Ballmer stated plainly that the "Lumia 900 is a very exciting launch," and that AT&T is critical to the WP7 future.  More information on the Nokia Lumia 900 can be found here.

A sexy device it is, but personally I've been burned once by Nokia's other (N)900, so I think I'll stick with Android for the time being.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Engadget

Hands-On with the ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 171 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2012 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: tablet, memo, eee pad, CES, asus

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We already reported on the announcement of the MeMO, but today we had the chance to go hands-on with the device. You’d expect it to be nothing more than a 7” version of the Prime – but you’d be wrong. The MeMO, as the name implies, is designed to enable easy use as a note-taking device.  As such it includes somewhat large bezels on the right and left (when held in landscape mode) to provide an easy grip. There’s also a stylus. Yes, that’s right – a stylus. It may seem old-fashioned, but it works with bundled software to make hand writing simple. 

You don’t have to rely on the stylus, however. Choose to ignore it and you have an attractive 7” Android tablet. Though the version we looked at was running Honeycomb, ASUS plans to ship MeMO tablets with Ice Cream Sandwich. We also had the opportunity to use a Prime running ICS after we checked out the MeMO, and though we could not run benchmarks, first impressions told us that web browsing in ICS is much snappier even when the same hardware is available.

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Unlike other 7” tablets, the MeMO 171 isn’t asking users to sacrifice resolution to obtain a smaller size. The MeMO is to ship with a 1280x800 display, the same resolution as the current Transformer Prime.  It’s also bestowed with an IPS display. This gives the tablet a substantial hardware advantage over the small tablet competition we’ve seen so far.

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Speaking of hardware advantages, the MeMO 171 is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm 1.2 GHz processor. The reason for this is compatibility with mobile carriers. We were told that the Qualcomm version will be usable as a mobile phone (though ASUS is still working with North American carriers – none are planning to offer offical MeMO support yet). 

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Because sticking 7” tablet to your face would be a bit ridiculous there will also be a small handset and media control that can be paired with the tablet. ASUS did not have a functional version to display, however – perhaps indicating that the kinks aren’t worked out just yet.

Overall, the MeMO looks like a promising tablet. It is sleek, fast and small. However, pricing is not yet available. I’m hoping for $299 to $349. While this is in essence a smaller version of the Prime, it is packing a stylus and potential mobile network support – things that can really ramp up a device’s price. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

Intel Shows New Ultrabook Features for 2012, Focuses on User Interface

Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2012 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged:

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Normally, Intel’s press conferences focus heavily on some new processor or graphics component. Yet there’s no new ultrabook processor to talk about, as they just started to hit store shelves a few months ago.

But that doesn’t mean Intel had nothing to show. Instead the focused on other technologies that the company wants to make a part of the ultrabook experience. A number of these were input technologies, and in this regard, Intel seems to be taking the kitchen sink approach. New and prototype laptops were shown with touch input, gesture input and even voice input.

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Touch received the lion’s share of attention. Intel has decided that touchscreens are important, and wants them to be included as part of the ultrabook specification. The short demo given by Intel showed a Windows 8 ultrabook performing all the usual stunts such as scrolling and pinch-to-zoom.

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They did have a new trick to show, however – a prototype laptop with a transparent touchpad/palmrest surface. The idea behind this is that when the laptop is closed, the transparent surface becomes a mini-touchscreen that can be used for Windows 8 notifications. It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around without seeing it in person, but hopefully the photos help.

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Other laptops with touch input included a HP convertible slider that loses the touchpad entirely in exchange for touchscreen input. Also shown was a Compal laptop that appeared to be a 12” or 13” Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard dock. Intel didn’t specifically reference it during the conference, however, so details on it are sparse.  

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Gesture recognition was hinted at via a system that seems to work much like Microsoft’s Kinect. Intel would like users to be able to move through files without touching anything at all. However, only a basic slingshot demo was shown at the press conference, indicating that it may be some time before it bares fruit. The new voice recognition features, which are being implemented in partnership with Nuance, were not demoed at all. However, Siri-like functionality was hinted at.

Finally, Intel briefly showed a secure wireless payment system in which a user can fill in online payment details simply by placing their credit card on or near their ultrabook. Not just anyone will be able to use it, however – you’ll have to bind your card to the PC beforehand.

Most of these features are things that we’ve seen before in smartphones or tablets, indicating that Intel is now playing a bit of catch-up with the mobile market.

Intel was not entirely devoid of hints at upcoming performance improvements. The new Ivy Bridge graphics component is apparently going to be over 80% better than current Intel IGP graphics and support DX11, but that’s all we know. You’ll have to wait until the Ivy Bridge Conference tomorrow for Intel to spill details – check back in tomorrow for our coverage of that event.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Intel

CES 2012: ASUS Updates Transformer Prime with 1920x1200 Display

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2012 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: transformer prime, Transformer, tf700t, CES, asus

The ASUS Transformer and the newer Transformer Prime are often considered the best Android tablets on the market and the most likely to be able to compete with Apple and its iPad in 2012.  Our own review from Matt Smith tells the same kind of story and is definitely worth a read to get some context for this news today.  

At CES 2012 ASUS is unveiling a new version of the Transformer Prime with the TF700T suffix that adds a couple of really nice features including a high-resolution 1920x1200 screen and a new 2.0 MP front camera for HD video conferencing.  These replace a 1280x800 resolution screen and a 1.3 MP front camera.

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The current Transformer Prime that might already be outdated...

Also worth noting is a change to the back plate on the device that ASUS claims "should enhance WiFi, BT and GPS performance."  Some users had complaints about WiFi issues and this should address it, if you are willing to pay the higher price for the better hardware as well.

Expect to see this selling for $599 to $699 when it is available this quarter.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!