LG L15G Sunrise TracFone is $9.82 at Walmart

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2015 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: LG, tracfone, walmart

Don't expect much.

This $9.82 phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a 1.2 GHz, dual-core processor, which is backed by 512 MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage, which LG advertises as having “up to 1.15 GB usable”. It is also listed as having about 7 hours of talk time, with almost 10 days of standby (although that is probably with next to nothing running). These components power a phone with a 3.8-inch, 480x320 display. It is not compatible with LTE, but it does have WiFi and 3G.

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That said, the person writing this article is currently using an LG Optimus One from 2010, which runs Android 2.2 and doesn't even have enough on-device storage to install and use Firefox for Android. (My phone has ~60MB usable with basically nothing installed and a couple of built-in apps uninstalled.) So, for someone like me, this phone would actually be a step up and usable for something more than just phone calls.

... not much more, but maybe $10 worth of more?

Source: Walmart

Samsung Announces Exynos 8 Octa 8890 Application Processor

Subject: Processors, Mobile | November 12, 2015 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, Samsung Galaxy, Samsung, mobile, Exynos 8890, Exynos 8 Octa, Exynos 7420, Application Processor

Coming just a day after Qualcomm officially launched their Snapdragon 820 SoC, Samsung is today unveiling their latest flagship mobile part, the Exynos 8 Octa 8890.

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The Exynos 8 Octa 8890 is built on Samsung’s 14 nm FinFET process like the previous Exynos 7 Octa 7420, and again is based on the a big.LITTLE configuration; though the big processing cores are a custom design this time around. The Exynos 7420 was comprised of four ARM Cortex A57 cores and four small Cortex A53 cores, and while the small cores in the 8890 are again ARM Cortex A53, the big cores feature Samsung’s “first custom designed CPU based on 64-bit ARMv8 architecture”.

“With Samsung’s own SCI (Samsung Coherent Interconnect) technology, which provides cache-coherency between big and small cores, the Exynos 8 Octa fully utilizes benefits of big.LITTLE structure for efficient usage of the eight cores. Additionally, Exynos 8 Octa is built on highly praised 14nm FinFET process. These all efforts for Exynos 8 Octa provide 30% more superb performance and 10% more power efficiency.”

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Another big advancement for the Exynos 8 Octa is the integrated modem, which provides Category 12/13 LTE with download speeds (with carrier aggregation) of up to 600 Mbps, and uploads up to 150 Mbps. This might sound familiar, as it mirrors the LTE Release 12 specs of the new modem in the Snapdragon 820.

Video processing is handled by the Mali-T880 GPU, moving up from the Mali-T760 found in the Exynos 7 Octa. The T880 is “the highest performance and the most energy-efficient mobile GPU in the Mali family”, with up to 1.8x the performance of the T760 while being 40% more energy-efficient. 

Samsung will be taking this new SoC into mass production later this year, and the chip is expected to be featured in the company’s upcoming flagship Galaxy phone.

Full PR after the break.

Source: Samsung

Video Perspective: Lenovo Yoga 900 Skylake-powered 2-in-1 Notebook Preview

Subject: Mobile | November 11, 2015 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, yoga, video, Skylake, Lenovo, Intel

The barrage of Skylake powered notebooks and tablets has begun and the PC Perspective offices are filling to the gills with boxes and samples. I have already previewed the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in preparation for our full review, so I thought I would do the same for the Lenovo Yoga 900. This is the first product released as part of a new branding scheme Lenovo has adopted for its flexible notebook line. 

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The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a 13-in convertible notebook that can be used in the classic clamshell form factor in addition to the fully collapsed mode to operate as a tablet (and in two other forms). It maintains the same watch bad style hinge that was introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and starts at $1099 with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, a 3200x1800 resolution touch screen and a 256GB  NVMe SSD. You can find it in orange, gold or silver colors.

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Even maxed out with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, the Yoga 900 is quite affordable, at just $1299!

For this generation Lenovo has decided to use the full 15 watt Skylake processor which will improve performance over the Yoga 3 Pro (the previous model) quite dramatically. If you remember back to last year, the Yoga 3 Pro was thinner and lighter than the Yoga 2 Pro but actually took a step backwards in performance (using a Core M processor) and battery life. Lenovo got lots of feedback that users weren't interested in those trade offs and the Yoga 900 is a bit thicker and heavier, but offers better performance and impressive battery life at over 9 hours in our Wi-Fi browsing tests.

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Connectivity is decent for a thin and light machine including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, SD card reader and a combination power port / USB port. That combo port is used to plug in your charger when you are tethered to power or utilize it as an additional USB port for accessories when mobile. 

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The keyboard and trackpad are still question marks for me - it definitely doesn't feel like previous Lenovo keyboards, with very little throw a requirement to fit in this form factor. I'll give it until we post our full review to really pass judgment.

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Check out the video preview as well for some more thoughts on the new Lenovo Yoga 900!!

Shopping for mobile devices?

Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: ZenPad, ipad, venue 8

It is the season of sales and shopping and mobile devices are always in demand, which is why The Tech Report could not have timed the newest update to their Mobile Device Guide any better.  From tablets ranging in price from $200-500 to a range of laptops for the mobile business user to those with deep pockets and a desire to game on a laptop there is a lot of good advice in the article.  They have separated the convertible laptops from those permanently attached to their screens for your convenience and finish up with a half dozen phone favourites for you.

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"In our mobile staff picks, we round up the latest and greatest tablets, laptops, convertibles, and phones that we think are worth your hard-earned dollars. In this edition, we consider Microsoft's Surface Book, Google's latest Nexus devices, Apple's iPhone 6S, and more."

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Toshiba's new Skylake powered Portégé series

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, portege, Skylake

The Inquirer hasn't received a model for review yet but they did get a quick peek at the new line of Portégé business laptops from Toshiba.  The new models are the 13.3" Portégé Z20t-C, 14" Portégé Z30-C, 14" Tecra Z40-C, and 15.6" Tecra Z50-C and will ship running either Windows 7 or Windows 10 depending on your preference.  From what they were told only the small Z20t-C will have the new USB 3.1 Type-C port, other models will sport USB 3.0.  One nice feature with the new Z series is that they will all use the same docking station, handy for when you are managing multiple models.  If you are looking for a new business laptop or your company is fishing for vendors then you might want to wait to check out Toshiba's new line when it officially launches.

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"TOSHIBA HAS UNVEILED fresh iterations of its flagship business laptop range, the Z Series, adding Intel's latest 6th-gen Core processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Appropriately named for Halloween; the HP Spectre x360

Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2015 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: hp, spectre x360

We saw a preview of HP's new Spectre x360 back in March, today The Inquirer has put up a quick hands on look at the Skylake powered laptop.  The touchscreen resolution will satisfy most users, at 13.3" 2560x1440 but the shiny coating on it may not.  While the keyboard does hinge completely over to allow you to use the device in tablet mode, however The Inquirer found it a bit heavy to be comfortable while using it as such.  For peripheral support you have three USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, a full-size HDMI port and a SD card reader.  The 2.5GHz dual core i7-6500U is paired with 8GB of RAM and there was a 512GB SSD installed in the model The Inquirer spent some time with.  Check it out here.

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"Regardless, the recent launches of Windows 10 and Intel's 6th-generation Core processors - nicknamed Skylake - have prompted a refresh of HP's portable PCs. We went hands-on at a preview event in London to see what, besides an updated CPU, the latest Spectre x360 has to offer."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Source: The Inquirer

Android to iPhone Day 31: Battery Life and Closing

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2015 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android, A9

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

iphonestorysmall.jpg

It has been too long since my last update to this story, and I promised a final answer when it comes to our view of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of battery life. If you remember back to some of our previous posts, the iPhone 6s actually has a smaller battery in it than the previous iPhone 6 did; the same is true for the Plus model as well.

Model Battery Size
iPhone 6 1810 mAh
iPhone 6s 1715 mAh
iPhone 6 Plus 2910 mAh
iPhone 6s Plus 2750 mAh

Clearly Apple knew that would be a contentious specification change from year to year, but the company has clearly done a lot to make sure it doesn't affect the battery life and usability of the iPhone. First, the new Apple A9 SoC is built on a smaller process technology; both Samsung and TSMC are making chips for the phones at 16nm and 14nm, and along with that process technology change comes an inherent power efficiency gain. Changing process nodes does not always magically make an existing architecture better performing or more efficient, but Apple's engineers are more than capable of being able to achieve that. After all, when you have unlimited funds and an edict never make a misstep, it helps.

The other change that came with the iPhone 6s and Plus is the move to iOS 9, which promises to improve battery and processing efficiency along the way. In the past, we have all heard rumors or had experiences with users of older phone models seeing decreased performance or decreased battery life when upgrading to the latest version of iOS. That may be the true, and I am not going to attempt to validate those claims here today, but it does make some sense that the latest OS would be tuned for the latest hardware.

If you're Apple, you don't want to have to make the battery in the new phones smaller than the old phones. It's a line item in a review that stands out to the general consumer - "WHAT? This year's model has a SMALLER battery??" - and could have a dramatic impact on sales and perception. But Apple also couldn't make the new phone any thicker as the same immediate response would take place. In order to add in support for the new 3D Touch and Taptic Engine technology the phones had to sacrifice a bit of space behind the screen. The result is a slightly thinner, and smaller capacity, battery.

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Image source: iFixit iPhone 6s Teardown

But let's talk about usability. In several instances in this series of editorials I have mentioned my extremely positive impressions from battery life in my normal use. The phone just seems to last longer than my Motorola Droid Turbo did, even with the Droid Turbo's much larger (3000 mAh) battery. Apple's control over the operating system, and to some extent the amount of interaction and capability that third party applications have, allows them to do more with less. And as a result you can drastically improve surrounding experiences: phone size, weight, design, included hardware features, etc.

There have definitely been days where my iPhone 6s would have been dead before I made it to my bed had I not had an external battery with me. But those were always extreme cases and include little to no service at a camp ground with the family, a wedding where I took hundreds of photos and videos, a 7am to 2am day where we had a site maintenance issue and I was on the phone (yes, talking!) for several hours in total. I don't think there is a scenario of use where the Android devices I have had would ever surpass the battery life of the iPhone 6s. And that's an impressive feat all things considered.

But like many of you reading this, I like hard numbers. Data, graphs and empirical results. To get some numbers I ran the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus through our standard PC Perspective Wi-Fi Battery testing process. We have a custom site that allows us to cycle through legit, real websites in a cycle of 20, pausing and scrolling on each to closely simulate how a user would surf.

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The biggest winner here is the iPhone 6s Plus, pulling in nearly 9 hours of continuous use in our web browsing test. The OnePlus 2, with a battery size of 3,300 mAh, can't keep up with the flagship iPhone product of the class of form factor, able to muster only 7.5 hours of use, a full 20% less than the 6s Plus. The iPhone 6s, using the same Apple A9 processor, pulls in than 6.6 hours of battery life in our Wi-Fi test, more than 1.5 hours more than the LG G4, one of the flagship Android phones of this past summer.

It's not exhaustive, but I think the results speak clearly about where the iPhone 6s stands in the current smartphone ecosystem. It has outstanding battery life, though there are plenty of rival Android phones on market currently that could match it. The key difference is that Apple is able to do it with less physical battery, and thus make a sleeker device. Seeing the added battery life of the iPhone 6s Plus does make me wonder if I would be willing to sacrifice my pockets for the extra security it offers. What I really want though is an iPhone 6s that is a bit thicker, offering up the same level of battery capacity as the larger phone. I know many users would be willing to swap the cache of sexy iPhone industrial design for the ability to make last call without a wall plug completely reliably.

Wrapping up the Experiment

It's been just over 30 days now in my Android to iPhone experiment, so the big question needs to be answered: will I be sticking with the iPhone 6s or going back to one of the newer Android devices like the refresh Nexus phones?

The Apple iPhone 6s will stay in my pocket.

Honestly, the answer surprises me - I did not expect this result when I placed the order button on Apple.com those many weeks ago. I have always been a proponent of the openness of Android, the flexibility that offered in terms of applications and OS access, but at the end of the day, I'm just a person using a phone. I have had only one instance of a crash/lock up on the iPhone 6s in my usage and it is reliably fast and responsive, something that eventually faded on the Droid Turbo. The camera takes fantastic photos, the application ecosystem offers more range than the Google Play Store and the global integration of Touch ID makes using LastPass less frustrating, accessing my eTrade bank accounts quicker and much more. Those are just some of the reasons for the switch for me.

I don't propose that everyone should make the same move. If you are a power user that likes to root your phones and change Android ROMs, you won't really find the same level of support for that on iPhones. If you welcome side-loading applications easily to your device (which is something I do miss) for development or experimenting purposes, Android is still the way to go. But it's hard to see the majority of the consumer base of smartphones in this country using both devices for extended periods and not see Apple as the more polished and friendly experience. That's what happened to me.

I look forward to trying out the upcoming Android phones in the near term and I won't ever say that I won't be switching back. Google continues to push the OS development further and offers features sometimes years of ahead of Apple. I'm working on getting both a 6P and 5X Nexus phone to try out; I'm curious to see how the implementation of the fingerprint sensor and improve cameras might shift my view.

And who knows, maybe in early 2016 we'll see a revamped editorial series going back to Android, or even Windows Phone? Easy now, don't get crazy Ryan.

Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.

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The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.

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Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!

Lenovo Introduces the Ultra-Thin Yoga 900 Convertible Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 20, 2015 - 05:55 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo, yoga 900, convertible, 2-in-1, laptop, notebook, Intel Core i7, QHD+

Lenovo has introduced their latest Yoga convertible notebook, and this one isn’t just thinner and lighter – it’s 14.9 mm thick and weighs just 2.8 lbs – Lenovo claims that it’s the world’s thinnest Intel Core i-series laptop. And the improvements don’t stop with the external design, as Lenovo has upgraded virtually every aspect of the Yoga.

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First off, 14.9 mm (0.59 inches) would be slim for a thin-and-light notebook anyway, but the Yoga’s thinness is even more impressive considering its 2-in-1 convertible design. The unique hinge mechanism is part of what allows Lenovo to keep such a slim profile, and this aspect has also been revised with a new version of the “watch band” hinge for the Yoga 900 that Lenovo says offers smoother movement than before.

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So what’s new under the hood? The latest Intel 6th generation processors to start with, and here are more of the specs:

  • Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7
  • Display: 13.3" QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory: Up to 16 GB LP-DDR3L
  • Storage: Up to 512 GB Samsung SSD
  • WLAN: 2x2 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 2x USB Type A 3.0, 1x USB Type C 3.0 with video out, 1x DC-in with USB 2.0 function, Audio Combo Jack
  • Card Reader: 4-in-1 (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC)
  • Webcam: 1MP 720p HD CMOS Camera
  • Audio: JBL Stereo Speakers with Dolby DS 1.0 Home Theater Certification
  • Battery: 4 Cell 66 Wh Li-Polymer, up to 9 hours battery life
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 12.75" x 8.86" x 0.59" (324 x 225 x 14.9 mm)
  • Weight: Starting at 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)

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In keeping with the Yoga name this laptop features a 360-degree hinge design, allowing virtually limitless possibilities for using the machine. This new Yoga also features a battery with much greater density than before – 50% more, according to Lenovo – and a revised cooling system that provides up to 30% better cooling as well as quieter performance.

The Yoga 900 starts at $1199, but the base models will differ in specs depending on where you look. Best Buy seems to have the better deal as they will offer a unit at the introductory price featuring a Core i7-6500u processor, while Lenovo’s base model has an i5-6200u for the same $1199 price. Both versions feature 8 GB of memory, and a 256 GB SSD.

Source: Lenovo

Get 4K video on the go with the Kensington SD4000 USB 3.0 dock

Subject: Mobile | October 19, 2015 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, SD4000, kensington, docking station

The Kensington SD4000 USB 3.0 docking station is a very easy way to connect to a single 4K resolution display or a pair of 2K displays even if your laptop technically lacks the ability to support it.  The small 19.5x85x2.75cm (7.7x3.3x1.1") connects to your laptop via a USB 3.0 connection and provides three USB 3.0 out, a LAN Port and DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI out, as well as separate mic and headphone jacks.  There is a sliding plastic cover over the DP and HDMI ports as you can only use one at a time, an handy way to distinguish which one is active.  eTeknix plugged in a 4K display and had no issues getting and external display to show full resolution, though they did not test gaming performance.  As this dock is intended for business and productivity focussed users that does make sense, if that describes you then check out the review.

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"For today’s review I’m venturing a little bit out of my normal area of storage, network, and server components and take a closer look at a very useful gadget for everyone that has a laptop of some sort. Kensington might be most known for their locking system that is present on almost any electronic device, but they do make a lot of different products too. Today I’m taking a closer look at the SD4000 Universal USB Docking Station for laptops."

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Source: eTeknix

ASUS Announces ROG G752 G-SYNC Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 13, 2015 - 10:23 AM |
Tagged: ROG G752, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebook, laptop, Intel Core i7, GTX 980M, gaming laptop, asus

ASUS has announced the Republic of Gamers ROG G752, their newest gaming notebook featuring 6th-gen Intel Core i7 mobile processors and graphics cards ranging from the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M to the GTX 980M. The notebook also features NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology for its 17.3-inch matte IPS panel across the three available versions.

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ASUS is also advertising the laptop's brand new cooling system, a "3D Vapor Chamber" design:

Temperature uniformity vapor chambers are commonly found alongside high-performance, high-voltage graphics cards to increase cooling efficiency. The ROG-exclusive mobile 3D Vapor Chamber, together with the copper heat pipe, create an effective and efficient cooling system that helps improve GPU performance for smooth and stable gaming. ROG G752 is the world’s first laptop to integrate a vapor chamber into its cooling system.

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The ROG G752 offers a new physical design and the new Titanium and Plasma Copper color scheme from ASUS, and in addition to the new cooling system the notebooks are equipped with a new "ergonomically-designed" keyboard that features 2.5mm key-travel distance as well as anti-ghosting with 30-key rollover.

Here are the full specifications:

  • Processor: 6th-generation Intel Core i7 (Skylake) processor
  • Chipset: Mobile Intel CM236
  • Memory: DDR4 2133MHz (upgradable to 64GB)
  • Display: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT / ROG G752VY - 17.3in anti-glare FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS LED backlit with NVIDIA G-SYNC
  • Graphics card:
    • ROG G752VL - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
    • ROG G52VT - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB / 6GB GDDR5 VRAM
    • ROG G752VY - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB / 8GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • Storage:
    • ROG G752VL - 2.5in SATA 2TB (5400 rpm); 2.5in SATA 1TB (7200 rpm); M.2 PCIe X4  NVME 256GB/128GB SSD
    • ROG G752VT/ ROG G752VY - 2.5in SATA 2TB (5400 rpm); 2.5in SATA 1TB (7200 rpm); M.2 PCIe X4  NVME 512GB/256GB/128GB SSD
  • Optical drive: DVD Super-Multi / Blu-ray Combo / Blu-ray writer
  • Camera: Built-in HD camera with array mic
  • Operating system: Windows 10, Windows 10 Professional
  • Size: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT: 428 x 334 x 23 ~ 43mm; ROG G752VY: 428 x 334 x 23 ~ 53mm 
  • Weight: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT: 4.06kg (with a 6-cell battery); ROG G752VY: 4.36kg (with a 8-cell battery)

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Pricing and availability were not announced, but expect to see the new ROG G752 laptops in the retail channel soon.

Source: ASUS

Android to iPhone Day 17: SoC Performance

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 12, 2015 - 11:08 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android, A9

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

iphonestorysmall.jpg

My iPhone experiment continues, running into the start of the third full week of only carrying and using the new iPhone 6s. Today I am going to focus a bit more on metrics that can be measured in graph form – and that means benchmarks and battery life results. But before I dive into those specifics I need to touch on some other areas.

The most surprising result of this experiment to me, even as I cross into day 17, is that I honestly don’t MISS anything from the previous ecosystem. I theorized at the beginning of this series that I would find applications or use cases that I had adopted with Android that would not be able to be matched on iOS without some significant sacrifices. That isn’t the case – anything that I want to do on the iPhone 6s, I can. Have I needed to find new apps for taking care of my alarms or to monitor my rewards card library? Yes, but the alternatives for iOS are at least as good and often times I find there are more (and often better) solutions. I think it is fair to assume that same feeling of equality would be prevalent for users going in other direction, iPhone to Android, but I can’t be sure without another move back to Android sometime in the future. It may come to that.

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My previous alarm app was replaced with Sleep Cycle

In my Day 3 post I mentioned my worry about the lack of Quick Charging support. Well I don’t know why Apple doesn’t talk it up more but the charging rate for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is impressive, and even more so when you pair them with the higher amperage charger that ships with iPads. Though purely non-scientific thus far, my through the day testing showed that I was able to charge the iPhone 6s Plus to 82% (from being dead after a battery test) in the span of 1.5 hours while the OnePlus 2 was only at 35%. I realize the battery on the OnePlus 2 is larger, but based purely on how much use time you get for your charging time wait, the iPhones appear to be just as fast as any Android phone I have used.

Photo taking with the iPhones 6s still impresses me – more so with the speed than the quality. Image quality is fantastic, and we’ll do more analytical testing in the near future, but while attending events over weekend including a Bengals football game (5-0!) and a wedding, the startup process for the camera was snappy and the shutter speed never felt slow. I never thought “Damn, I missed the shot I wanted” and that’s a feeling I’ve had many times over the last several years of phone use.

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You don't want to miss photos like this!

There were a couple of annoyances that cropped up, including what I think is a decrease in accuracy of the fingerprint reader on the home button. In the last 4 days I have had more bouncing “try again” notices on the phone than in the entirety of use before that. It’s possible that the button has additional oils from my hands on it or maybe that I am getting lazier about placement of my fingers on the Touch ID, but it’s hard to tell.

Continue reading day 17 of my Android to iPhone editorial!!

ASUS ROG GX700 Water Cooled Gaming Laptop Specs Revealed

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, NVIDIA GTX 980, liquid cooled, i7-6820HK, gx700, gaming laptop, g-sync, ASUS ROG, asus

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We already saw an announcement from ASUS (at IFA 2015) for their water-cooled Republic of Gamers GX700 gaming laptop, and now we have more details about this unique product, though some are still pending. The specifications (including the full version of the NVIDIA GTX 980) would make a great gaming desktop system, and that's kind of the idea as the performance increases substantially when the laptop is docked in its liquid-cooling base.

There are certainly questions about this concept that won't be answered until hardware in hand, but it's going to be interesting to see just how well a liquid cooling system will work in a dockable format like this.

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Here are the specifications we know so far:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 6820HK
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 980, 8GB GDDR5
  • Display: 17.3-inch IPS FHD (1920x1080) G-SYNC / Optional 4K/UHD G-SYNC
  • RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 1TB PCIe x4 SSD (2 x 512GB)
  • Optical: Blu-ray 6x RW
  • Card reader: SDXC
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Keyboard: Anti-ghosting keyboard with 30-key rollover; 2.5mm travel; Illuminated
  • Ports:     
    • 3 x USB 3.0 
    • 1 x USB Type-C / Thunderbolt 3
    • 1 x USB Type-C / USB 3.1     
    • 1 x mini-DisplayPort
    • 1 x HDMI
  • Audio: 1x Headphone/mini-Optical S/PDIF, 1x Microphone input
  • Webcam: 1.2MP HD camera

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A look inside at the GX700 cooling system

Exact numbers on battery capacity, dimensions, and weight are not yet available, and pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

Source: ASUS

MSI shows off their Tetris skills with the GS60 6QE gaming laptop

Subject: Mobile | October 9, 2015 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: msi, GS60 6QE, gaming laptop, 4k

Inside the impressively thin 15.6" GS60 6QE, 390x266x20mm is a Skylake based i7-6700HQ, a 3GB GTX970M and 16GB of DDR4-2133 along with a 256GB M.2 SSD for your OS plus a 1TB HDD for long term storage.  The integral display does indeed have a resolution of 4K, for external connectivity you can use either the HDMI v1.4b which supports 4Kx2K output or the Mini-Display port that supports 1080p @ 120Hz or 4K @ 60Hz.  For fans of gaming in the dark it sports  SteelSeries FULL back lit keyboard, programmable with the SteelSeries Engine and there is a single USB 3.1 Type C connector if you happen to have a compatible peripheral.  Check out the performance at Kitguru but only if you can stomach the $1800 price tag and the fact that Norton comes pre-installed.

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"There is no doubt that MSI have been releasing some of the most exciting, feature-laden laptops in the last 24 months. Today we take a look at the new GS60 6QE which incorporates a Intel Core i7 6700HQ Skylake processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, Nvidia GTX970m, M.2 SSD and 4K Ultra HD panel. MSI have managed to cram all this tasty hardware into a chassis that measures only 20mm at the thickest point."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: KitGuru

Dell Releases Redesigned XPS 15 Laptop with InfinityEdge Display

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 8, 2015 - 10:05 AM |
Tagged: dell, XPS 15, InfinityEdge, laptop, notebook, Skylake, i3-6100H, i5-6300HQ, i7-6700HQ, GTX 960M

The redesigned Dell XPS 15 is here, now a larger clone of the popular XPS 13 including the same minuscule “InfinityEdge” display and featuring optional 4K resolution.

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Image credit: Engadget

The XPS 13 is among the highest-rated Windows laptops of the past year, and the preferred notebook of our own Ryan Shrout. Dell certainly had a big design win with a 13-inch screen on a laptop that would normally only house an 11.6-inch display, thanks to the razor-thin bezel surrounding the LCD panel. This InfinityEdge display makes a lot of sense for the larger XPS 15, and the newly redesigned notebook now occupies the space of a mere 14-inch notebook, while offering both FHD and UHD/4K screen resolutions.

What good would a beautiful screen be without the horsepower to drive it? For this Dell has implemented the latest 6th Generation Intel Skylake mobile processors, namely the Core i3-6100H, Core i5-6300HQ, and Core i7-6700HQ. Graphics duties are performed either by the integrated Intel HD 530 or an NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU, and 8GB of DDR4 memory comes standard with options up to 32GB available (and this is SoDIMM memory so users can upgrade later as well).

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Image credit: Windows Central

Specifications:

  • Processor:
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7 GHz)
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
    • 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
  • Display: 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) InfinityEdge display or 15.6" UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
  • RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB DDR4 at 2133 MHz (32GB post-RTS) (2 x SoDIMMs)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
  • Storage: 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
  • 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, or 1TB PCIe SSD
  • Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam
  • Ports and Connectors: HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2), Headset Jack, SD card reader, Kensington Lock slot, Thunderbolt 3
  • Dimensions: 11-17mm x 357mm x 235mm
  • Weight: Non-touch, starting at 3.9 lbs; Touch, starting at 4.4 lbs

The new Dell XPS 15 is available today and prices start at $999.

Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 with Skylake with NVIDIA Discrete GPU Announced

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce

Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.

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The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.

An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections. 

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The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.

While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.

UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.

The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.

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Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.

The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.

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Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included. 

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Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options. 

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Includes Skylake, Iris Graphics

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface, Skylake, microsoft, iris, Intel, edram

Microsoft has finally revealed the next product in the Surface Pro tablet lineup, skipping the Broadwell processor generation and jumping straight to the latest Intel Skylake processors. The design is very similar to previous Surface Pro tablets but the upgrades and changes made for the Surface Pro 4 are impressive.

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The kickstand design that has made the Surface recognizable remains the same but there is a solid collection of new features including a fingerprint reader and Microsoft Hello support for security and login. The new Pro 4 model is only 8.4mm thick (coming in just about 1mm thinner than the Pro 3) and is also lighter at 1.73 lbs.

The screen size is 12.3-inches with a 2736 x 1824 3:2 resolution for a pixel density of 267 PPI. It has a 10-point touch interface with drastically improved latency, palm detection and pressure sensitivity for the included Surface Pen. Even better, that improved Surface Pen will have a full year of battery life along with magnetic attachment to the tablet rather than relying on a elastic loop!

The Surface keyboard sees improvements as well including better spacing on the keys, quieter and more reliable typing and it also becomes the thinnest type cover MS has yet to build for the Surface line. A 5-point touch glass trackpad is now part of the deal, 40% larger than the one found on the Pro 3 - a welcome modification for anyone that has used the type cover in the past. 

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In terms of computing horsepower, the Surface Pro 4 will be available with a Core m3, Core i5 or even a Core i7 processor. It will ship with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of system memory and internal storage capacities as high as 1TB. Microsoft hasn't posted any more details about the clock speeds of these CPUs but if you look at the awesome hype video MS made for the Pro 4 launch, you'll notice an interesting thing in the exploded view: an Intel processor with three dies on a single package.

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What you are seeing is the Skylake CPU, chipset and an eDRAM package. This tells us that at least one of the available options for the Surface Pro 4 will ship with Iris graphics and 64MB or 128MB of L4 cache / eDRAM - a first for this form factor! This should help improve performance for graphics as well as other specific CPU compute workloads.

Other highlights for the Surface Pro 4 include front facing stereo speakers, 8MP rear-facing camera and a fancy-ass Windows 10 logo.

Pricing will START at $899 but will spike to as high as $2699 if you max out the processor and storage options. 

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We are working on getting a unit in for testing as the devices are going up for presale today and should arrive by October 26th.

Source: Microsoft

Ars Technica Reviews Android 6.0 (Marshmellow)

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: google, android 6.0, Android

Android 6.0 was launched yesterday, and Ars Technica has, so far, been the only outlet to give it a formal review. That said, it is a twelve-page review with a table of contents -- so that totally counts for five or so.

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The main complaint that the reviewer has is the operating system's inability to be directly updated. There is a large chain of rubber stamps between Google's engineers and the world at large. Carriers and phone manufacturers can delay (or not even attempt to certify) patches for their many handsets. It is not like Windows, where Microsoft controls the centralized update service. In the beginning, this wasn't too big of an issue as updates were typically for features. Sucker, buy a new phone if you want WebGL.

Now it's about security. Granted, it has always been about security, even on the iPhone, we just care more now. If you think about it, every time a phone gets jailbroken, a method exists to steal admin privileges away from Apple and give them to... the user. Some were fairly sophisticated processes involving USB tethering to PCs, while others involved browsing to a malicious website with a payload that the user (but not Apple) wanted to install. Hence why no-one cared: the security was being exploited by the user for the user. It was only a matter of time before either the companies sufficiently crush the bugs, or it started to be tasty for the wolves.

And Google is getting bit.

Otherwise, Ars Technica mostly praised the OS. Be sure to read their review to get a full sense of their opinion. As far as I can tell, they only tested it on the Nexus 5.

Source: Ars Technica

Windows 10 IoT Core Starter Pack for the Pi 2 Released

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2015 - 08:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, iot

Microsoft has released the Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2. It retails for 75$ without the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, or $115$ with it. Apart from the optional Pi, it is basically a pack of electronic components and an SD card that's pre-loaded with Windows 10 IoT. It is available at the Adafruit store, although both packs are currently out of stock... because of course they are.

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Beyond jumper wires, a case, breadboards, resistors, LEDs, switches, and sensors, the pack also comes with a WiFi module. Interestingly, Adafruit claims that this will be the only WiFi adapter for the Raspberry Pi 2 that's supported by Windows 10 IoT. This is weird, of course, because Windows is kind-of the go-to when it comes to driver support. It makes me wonder whether Microsoft changed anything under the hood that affects hardware compatibility and, if it did, whether Windows 10 IoT loses its major advantage over Linux and other OSes in this form factor.

The kit is currently sold up, but retails for $75, or $115 with a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B.

Source: Microsoft

Google's Pixel C Is A Powerful Convertible Tablet Running Android 6.0

Subject: Mobile | October 2, 2015 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, tablet, pixel, nvidia, google, android 6.0, Android

During its latest keynote event, Google unveiled the Pixel C, a powerful tablet with optional keyboard that uses NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 SoC and runs the Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” operating system.

The Pixel C was designed by the team behind the Chromebook Pixel. Pixel C features an anodized aluminum body that looks (and reportedly feels) smooth with clean lines and rounded corners. The tablet itself is 7mm thick and weighs approximately one pound. The front of the Pixel C is dominated by a 10.2” display with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 (308 PPI, 500 nits brightness), wide sRGB color gamut, and 1:√2 aspect ratio (which Google likened to the size and aspect ratio of an A4 sheet of paper). A 2MP front camera sits above the display while four microphones sit along the bottom edge and a single USB Type-C port and two stereo speakers sit on the sides of the tablet. Around back, there is an 8MP rear camera and a bar of LED lights that will light up to indicate the battery charge level after double tapping it.

Google Pixel C Tegra X1 Tablet.jpg

The keyboard is an important part of the Pixel C, and Google has given it special attention to make it part of the package. The keyboard attaches to the tablet using self-aligning magnets that are powerful enough to keep the display attached while holding it upside down and shaking it (not that you'd want to do that, mind you). It can be attached to the bottom of the tablet for storage and used like a slate or you can attach the tablet to the back of the keyboard and lift the built-in hinge to use the Pixel C in laptop mode (the hinge can hold the display at anywhere from 100 to 135-degrees). The internal keyboard battery is good for two months of use, and can be simply recharged by closing the Pixel C like a laptop and allowing it to inductively charge from the tablet portion. The keyboard is around 2mm thick and is nearly full size at 18.85mm pitch and the chiclet keys have a 1.4mm travel that is similar to that of the Chromebook Pixel. There is no track pad, but it does offer a padded palm rest which is nice to see.

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Internally, the Pixel C is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage (depending on model). The 20nm Tegra X1 consists of four ARM Cortex A57 and four Cortex A53 CPU cores paired with a 256-core Maxwell GPU. The Pixel C is a major design win for NVIDIA, and the built in GPU will be great for gaming on the go.

The Pixel C will be available in December ("in time for the holidays") for $499 for the base 32 GB model, $599 for the 64 GB model, and $149 for the keyboard.

First impressions, such as this hands-on by Engadget, seem to be very positive stating that it is sturdy yet sleek hardware that feels comfortable typing on. While the hardware looks more than up to the task, the operating system of choice is a concern for me. Android is not the most productivity and multi-tasking friendly software. There are some versions of Android that enable multiple windows or side-by-side apps, but it has always felt rather clunky and limited in its usefulness. With that said, Computer World's  JR Raphael seems hopeful. He points out that the Pixel C is, in Batman fashion, not the hardware Android wants, but the hardware that Android needs (to move forward) and is primed for a future of Android that is more friendly to such productive endeavors. Development versions of Android 6.0 included support for multiple apps running simultaneously side-by-side, and while that feature will not make the initial production code cut, it does show that it is something that Google is looking into pursuing and possibly enabling at some point. The Pixel C has an excellent aspect ratio to take advantage of the app splitting with the ability to display four windows each with the same aspect ratio.

I am not sure how well received the Pixel C will be by business users who have several convertible tablet options running Windows and Chrome OS. It certainly gives the iPad-and-keyboard combination a run for its money and is a premium alternative to devices like the Asus Transformers.

What do you think about the Pixel C, and in particular, it running Android?

Even if I end up being less-than-productive using it, I think I'd still want the sleek-looking hardware as a second machine, heh.

Source: Google