A tablet of a different colour, the Thor Quad FHD

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2013 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: iconbit, tablet, Thor Quad FHD, android 4.1

iconBIT is certainly not a brand that most people would recognize but they might be worth checking out when you are sourcing a new tablet.  It is run by a Cortex A9 @ 1.6GHz with the usual Mali MP400 GPU and comes with 16GB of storage with the older Android 4.1 OS installed.  The 10.1" screen is 1920x1080 allowing for proper HD playback and at 630g it is a little heavier than some tablets but also has sturdier construction.  MadShrimps liked the tablet overall and are glad to see some competition for the big names but perhaps their favourite part was that it ships with a matching leatherette cover.

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"The Thor Quad FHD tablet from iconBIT is quite balanced, featuring a Rockchip RK3188 Quad Core CPU at 1.6GHz, Mali MP-400 MP4 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of NAND Flash. Of course, we also have a microSDHC card slot for expanding the storage (supports up to 32GB cards). Besides those mentioned, it is also notable the inclusion of the 5MP camera with flash on the back, which provides better quality shots compared to lower specced models."

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Source: MadShrimps

PC Shipments Fell Less Than Expected. Tablets Grew Less

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | October 14, 2013 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, hp, dell, tablets

About 81 million PCs were sold in the third quarter of this year; a decline of 8 percent from the same quarter of last year. This is according to reports from Windows IT Pro who averaged figures from IDC and Gartner.

The firms, however, were expecting somewhere between a 9 and 10 percent drop.

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A further decline (in global shipments) is still expected to occur next year. Tablet sales have slowed from projections, albeit still on a growing trend, due to emerging markets and the simplification of generic content consumption. Our viewers probably extend beyond the generic but many others do not, for whatever number of reasons, use their devices except for media and text-based web browsing; as such, customers are more hesitant to replace their PCs.

Lenovo, HP, and Dell were 1-2-3 in terms of worldwide PC sales with each experiencing slight growth. HP is very near to Lenovo in terms of unit sales, less than a quarter million units separating the two, although I would expect Lenovo would have wider margins on each unit sold. HP extends further into the low value segments. Acer and ASUS had a sharp decline in sales.

Unfortunately, the article does not give any specific details on the tablet side. They did not reach their projections.

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 3: Toronto Office Tour and Games!

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 7, 2013 - 11:55 PM |
Tagged: Mozilla Summit 2013, mozilla

Summit 2013 came to an end on Sunday after a few closing keynotes, breakout sessions, a tour of the Mozilla Toronto campus, and interpretive dancing of what the fox says. Do not worry, Mozillians in our audience, I will only interpretively illustrate the interpretive dance with a totally unironic Shockwave Flash screenshot.

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Real smooth moves, indeed.

On the topic of Flash demos, the first session I attended included an extended preview of Shumway. As discussed in Day 2, the project intends to keep Flash content alive after the platform fades. A few demos were shown to attendees including a signification portion of the HomestarRunner email, "Your Friends", where Strong Bad harms the entire cast except himself and The Poopsmith (and other off-cast or yet-to-be-introduced characters, of course). The video played just about perfectly.

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BananaBread OF DOOM!

"Bananabread" was also modified into a special demo showing live textures from video elements. The game even projected a separate game of Doom against the wall of the level. This can, of course, be used for non-gaming projects as well; projects have been developed to use shader effects on web camera video for GPU-accelerated post-processing tasks.

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The closing ceremonies followed the breakout sessions and mostly thanked their community. A few "Mozillians" were voted by their peers for their popular influence and were recognized with signed posters and, in one case, a paid trip to any Mozilla campus in the world. Plus, people were hugged by a fox; a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The last event of the day, at least the last one relevant to a computer hardware website, was a tour of the Mozilla Toronto campus. The office is structured in departments around a central kitchen, restroom, and discussion area. They attempt to have a sort-of Canadian cottage feel with a couple of Adirondack chairs and a wood-beam ceiling. There is also a group of desks called "Benoits St." because, well, it just so happens everyone who works in that section is named Benoit.

IMG194.jpg

Community Room with its reconfigurable tables and musical corner.

Thus ends the coverage of Mozilla Summit 2013, Toronto.

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 2: APCs and Servos in a Flash

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 6, 2013 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Mozilla Summit 2013

The second day of Mozilla Summit 2013 kicked off with three more keynote speeches, a technology fair, and two blocks of panels. After two days and about two dozen demos, several extremely experimental, I am surprised to only see one legitimate demo fail attempting to connect two 3D browser games in multiplayer over WebRTC… and that seemed to be the fault of a stray automatic Windows Update on the host PC.

Okay technically another demo “failed” because an audience member asked, from the crowd, to browse a Mozilla Labs browser prototype, Servo, to an arbitrary website which required HTTPS and causing the engine to nope. I do not count that one.

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Speaking of Servo, the HTML rendering engine ended the “Near Term Strategy and the Products we Build” keynote with an announcement of its full score to ACID1. The engine, developed in Mozilla’s own RUST language, is a sandbox for crazy ideas such as, “What would happen if you allow Javascript to execute in its own thread when it would normally be blocked by Gecko?” Basically any promising task to parallelize is being explored (they openly solicit community insights) in making the web browser better suited for the current and upcoming multi- and many-core devices out there. Samsung is also involved on the project, which makes sense for their mobile products.

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Also discussed is Shumway, a Javascript rendering engine for Flash content. Candy Crush Saga was presented as an example of a game, entirely reliant on Flash, playing without the plugin installed in a similar way to how WINE allows Windows applications within Linux. Shumway has been known for a while but is becoming quite effective in its performance. What happens to content after Flash becomes deprecated (be it 3 years, 10 years, or 100 years) has been a concern of mine with videos such as HomestarRunner holding cultural relevance despite not updating in almost 3 years.

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Lastly, we saw a demo of the APC Paper which is expected to lead Firefox OS into the desktop market. It is actually a little smaller than I expected from the pictures.

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One more day before everyone heads home. So far not much has happened but I will keep you updated as things occur.

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 1: Unreal Engine and UP

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 5, 2013 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Mozilla Summit 2013

I have volunteered with Mozilla starting about a month after I read the Windows Store certification requirements (prior to that I was ramping up development of modern apps). I am currently attending, due to that volunteer work, Mozilla Summit in Toronto. The first day, Friday, has been filled with keynotes including some partially-new announcements.

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Mozilla has a number of branded elevator doors, signs, and carpets covering the hotel to promote the event for the attendees. Unfortunately, my hotel room was not in the tower this elevator serviced. Also unfortunate, I did not realize that until I was on said elevator at in the 27th floor. Moving between the first and 27th floors took all of about 5 seconds; popping my ears took longer. To be fair I was given correct directions by the hotel staff I just did not realize that the building was, in fact, multiple buildings and so my interpretation was off.

On to the important stuff: explosions! The second keynote contained high performance 3D browser games and, albeit less kablooieie, site personalization.

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The latter we have talked about before. Mozilla is implementing interface elements in the browser for users to share demographic information with websites. They understand that advertising is how the web works and does not want it outright dead. They do believe (at least some) advertisers mine too much data from their users because they need to mine some data from their users. One-on-one conversation with a couple Mozilla staff somewhat confirms my suspicions that the initiative is to remove the temptation for just a little more data with homegrown solutions. This seems to be their last idea, however, given the discussion at the panel.

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The former was an Unreal Engine demo on stage during the “Envisioned Future State” keynote. The presenter had several multi-kills with a rocket launcher. I should note the entire demo ran off of the file protocol so no internet connection was required. This was quite literally Unreal Tournament 3 running native to Firefox.

Well, I think that is it for today! A lot of information was released but I believe these were the top-two most interesting points.

Source: Mozilla

Basemark X Creator Comments on Benchmark Cheating

Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2013 - 12:27 AM |
Tagged: Android, cheating, basemark x

Even if you haven't been paying attention to the world of mobile benchmarking over the past week you have likely heard about the now rampant cheating that is going on with Android testing.  Device makers are doing simple detection for benchmark applications and unrealistically changing the performance attributes of the SoC (CPU and GPU) to improve benchmark scores.  This does not represent the behavior that an end user would see in real-world usage but is intended only to move the device up to the top of benchmark graphs to gain attention and drive sales.

Long time PC enthusiasts will recognize this problem though thanks to the openness of the PC ecosystem that issue is largely removed as there are independent press and researchers keeping all parties honest. 

Anandtech (and many other outlets) are again discussing the issue of cheating in mobile testing, even going as far as creating a chart titled "I Can't Believe I Have to Make This Table" that shows which benchmarks are being compromised by which devices and OS configurations.  I highly suggest you check out the story by Anand and Brian to get more details on the state of cheating in mobile benchmarks. 

The creator of one of the affected benchmarks, Basemark X, contacted the media with some interesting comments I wanted share. 

It has come to our attention that Galaxy Note 3 may be targeting our benchmark, Basemark X.

Rightware’s mission is to provide trusted performance evaluation tools you can depend on. Therefore, we have produced an updated version of Basemark X that solves this issue.

basemarkx.png

I asked Tero Sarkkinen, founder of Rightware, what could be done to prevent this type of unfair performance skewing going forward. 

Basically every benchmark and application out there can be targeted by a new handset or tablet and no one can really prevent it. What makes a difference is will the benchmark vendor do something about it when this is recognized.

At Rightware, we take our mission seriously and we monitor day in and day out what is going on. As in this case, we noticed that Note 3 is targeting Basemark X, we immediately provided the press with a version that the handset is not able to detect.

We get thousands of benchmark results in every day to our Power Board http://results.rightware.com and therefore we have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

In other words, we are not sticking our heads into the sand.

While the sentiment that "no one can really prevent it" is disappointing to hear, it is what we expected and what we are planning for.  Sarkkinen is confident that Rightware is able to stay up on the situation and is going to keep pace with online media and analysts to make sure these hardware vendors are staying honest. 

It's the best news we have seen in a sea of disappointing information on mobility benchmarking this week.

MSI Launches New GP Series Business Notebooks With Dedicated Graphics

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 30, 2013 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: msi, gp70, gp60, gaming notebook

Today, MSI unveiled its new GP series of notebooks aimed at business professionals that want a work machine that can also handle multimedia and gaming workloads. Specifically, MSI is launching one 17" GP70 and two 16" GP60 notebook SKUs which vary slightly in terms of storage, screen resolution, and processor (and the GP70 being physically larger). The new GP series notebooks are available now at various online and brick-and-mortar retailers with a starting MSRP of $899.99.

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MSI's GP70 gaming/professional laptop.

The GP series laptops have Intel Haswell processors, NVIDIA GT740M graphics, 8GB of DDR3 memory, and up to 750GB (GP60) or 1TB (GP70) of mechanical hard drive storage options. Further, all GP series notebooks are equipped with 720p webcams, SteelSeries gaming keyboards, multi-touch trackpads, and gold plated audio jacks backed by a headphone amplifier. IO on the various GP SKUs includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two audio jacks, one Gigabit Ethernet LAN jack, one SD (XC/HC) card slot, and HDMI video outputs. The laptops all have 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios.

MSI-GP60.jpg

The MSI GP60 laptop.

At the low end is the MSI GP60 2OD-052US which includes an Intel i5-4200M CPU, up to 750GB of HDD storage, and a 15.6" display with a resolution of 1366x768. The MSI GP60 2OD-072US bumps the specifications up a bit to an Intel i7-4700MQ processor and a non reflective 1080p 15.6" display. Meanwhile, the MSI GP70 offers up to 1TB of HDD storage but has a 17.3" anti-glare display with a resolution of 1600x900. The laptops range from 5.29 to 5.95 pounds.

The following chart (courtesy of MSI) breaks down the individual SKUs in more detail.

MSI GP Series Notebooks.png

The MSI GP series is available now with starting MSRPs of $899.99 (GP60 with i5), $1,049.99 (GP60 with i7), and $949.99 (GP70) respectively. It is nice to see more notebooks coming out with dedicated graphics, especially in the business sector where laptops tend to be less 'flashy'.

Source: MSI

APC Plays Rock, Paper, Firefox OS. Fix Bug? Free Device!

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 26, 2013 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: Rock, Paper, Firefox OS, APC

Update: (9/28/2013) APC responded to my email and confirmed all models support up to 32GB microSD cards (so, microSD or microSDHC).

Firefox OS is an operating system which boots into a web standards rendering engine. All applications and user interface elements are essentially web sites, often hosted by the device but could obviously have online components as the creator desires, web standards making it easier to port and manage code.

Hardware designers are continuing to adopt the platform.

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APC Paper

APC, an initiative of VIA Technologies, got our attention over a year ago when they launched their smaller-than-a-banana Android desktop. It was an interesting design which came out at roughly the same time as the Raspberry Pi. I cannot tell whether that boost or harmed consumer interest.

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From behind

Either way, the APC has announced two successors: The APC Paper and the APC Rock. Both devices dropped Android (side note: the $50 APC 8750 based on Android 2.3 is apparently still available) replacing it, instead, with Firefox OS. Both devices are in the Neo-ITX form factor although that should not matter too much, for Paper, as it includes a case.

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APC Rock

Paper covers Rock, get it?

The raw specifications are as follows:

  • SoC: VIA ARM Cortex-A9 @ 800 MHz
  • GPU: Built in 2D/3D up to 720p
  • Memory: 512MB DDR3
  • Storage: 4GB NAND Flash
  • Expandable Storage: microSD (maximum 32GB)
    • Update: APC confirmed all models support up to 32GB, which is microSDHC
  • I/O: HDMI, VGA (Rock-only), 2x USB 2.0, MicroUSB, 3.5mm Headphone/Mic

This build of Firefox OS contains mouse and keyboard support. If you wish to install your own operating system, while you are on your own, the kernel and bootloader are available on the APC website and the hardware is unlocked. They also provide access to the ARM debug headers for the real developer types.

If you are one of these developer types, would you consider fixing a known issue? APC will donate free devices to users who submit fixes for specially tagged bugs on their Github repo. Think of it like investing time fixing a product which, if you would have bought it, probably would have crushed the bug anyway.

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It would have been nice to see a bump in processor performance and graphics functionality, and perhaps more than 512 MB of RAM, although it should be sufficient for light web browsing. As a developer of GPU-intensive web applications, which I expect to have an article on soon, I am not sure how much that colors my view of these devices. Then again, we are also talking about devices in the Roku price-point, so (apart from sticking with 720p... come on now) I may not have a valid complaint.

Both devices are available now, in limited quantities, through the manufacturer website. The Paper carries a price tag of $99 USD while the Rock is slightly cheaper at $79 USD.

Source: APC

Fun facts about your new fruity phone

Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2013 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: jailbreak, iphone 5s, iphone 5c, iphone, ios 7

The Tech Report loves a good Apple release, even if things didn't go as smoothly on the supply side as many had hoped.  They haven't had time to do a full review of either the iPhone 5C or 5S but they did put together an overview of the two devices which you can read here.  The new phones were not the only new release from Apple, iOS7 became available for iPhone and iPad users and it has failed to impress them.  While it is certainly usable and not unattractive The Tech Report feels that some of the elegance of design has faded and the special feeling they had because they owned an iThing is no longer there.  If you haven't upgraded because you have jailbroken your iPhone they won't judge you too harshly and have put together a post describing how to un-jailbreak that phone so you can join with the cool kids of iOS7 and wait for the chance to unlock the new OS when the steps for that are posted; likely in the very near future.

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"Today, it's the turn of our resident Mac blogger, Jason Fox, to blog about his upgrade to iOS 7. Fox also recounts the process of un-jailbreaking his iPhone to accommodate the new software update."

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NVIDIA Tegra Note Tablet Platform Launches - $199 from EVGA, PNY

Subject: Mobile | September 18, 2013 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: tegra note, tegra 4, tegra, tablet, pny, nvidia, evga

Over the past couple of months there have been several leaks about a potential NVIDIA-branded tablet based on the Tegra 4 SoC.  Most speculated that NVIDIA had decided to enter into the hardware market directly with a "Tegra Tab" in a similar vein to the release of NVIDIA SHIELD.  As it turns out though NVIDIA has created a platform for which other companies can rebrand and resell an Android tablet.

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According to NVIDIA, the Tegra Note platform will enable partners to bring 7-in tablets to market packed with the feature set NVIDIA has been promising since the launch of the Tegra 4 SoC.  Those include stylus support, high quality audio, HDR camera capabilities and 100% native Android operating systems.

Maybe more interesting are the partners that NVIDIA is teaming with for this launch.  While companies like ASUS have already done the development work to prepare various size tablets based on Tegra chips in the past, NVIDIA is going to introduce a couple of its graphics cards partners to the mobility ecosystem: EVGA and PNY in North America.

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While we have questions about the capability for either of these companies to truly support a tabletin today's market but the truth is likely that NVIDIA is handling most if not all of the logistics on this project.  What is not in question is the potential for high value: these tablets will start with a suggested retail price of $199.

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We already know most of the technical details about the Tegra 4 SoC including the 4+1 Cortex A15 CPU cores and the 72-core GPU.  NVIDIA claims they will get 10 hours of video playback with this platform but I would like to get data on the weight and battery size before calling that a win.  The display resolution is a bit lower than other competing high-end options in the market today but the sub-$200 price point does mean there had to be some corners cut.

UPDATE: I asked NVIDIA for more information on the size, weight and battery capacity and got a quick answer.  The battery capacity is 4100 mAh and the entire device weighs 320g.  Compared to the Google Nexus 7, the current strongest 7-in tablet in my opinion, that is a 4% larger battery (vs 3950 mAh) and 10% heavier device (vs 290g).  The Tegra Note reference is also a bit thicker at 9.6mm compared to the 8.65mm of the Nexus 7.

There are more details on the official NVIDIA blog post making the announcement this morning including direct OTA Android updates so check that out if you think you might be interested in one of these tablets in the coming months!

Source: NVIDIA

Gabe Newell LinuxCon Keynote. Announcement Next Week.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2013 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: Steam Box, LinuxCon, Gabe Newell

Valve Software, as demonstrated a couple of days ago, still believe in Linux as the future of gaming platforms. Gabe Newell discussed this situation at LinuxCon, this morning, which was streamed live over the internet (and I transcribed after the teaser break at the bottom of the article). Someone decided to rip the stream, not the best quality but good enough, and put it on Youtube. I found it and embed it below. Enjoy!

Gabe Newell highlights, from the seventh minute straight through to the end, why proprietary platforms look successful and how they (sooner-or-later) fail by their own design. Simply put, you can control what is on it. Software you do not like, or even their updates, can be stuck in certification or even excluded from the platform entirely. You can limit malicious software, at least to some extent, or even competing products.

Ultimately, however, you limit yourself by not feeding in to the competition of the crowd.

If you wanted to get your cartridge made you bought it, you know, FOB in Tokyo. If you had a competitive product, miraculously, your ROMs didn't show up until, you know, 3 months after the platform holder's product had entered market and stuff like that. And that was really where the dominant models for what was happening in gaming ((came from)).

But, not too surprisingly, open systems were advancing faster than the proprietary systems had. There used to be these completely de novo graphics solutions for gaming consoles and they've all been replaced by PC-derived hardware. The openness of the PC as a hardware standard meant that the rate of innovation was way faster. So even though, you would think, that the console guys would have a huge incentive to invest in it, they were unable to be competitive.

Microsoft attempts to exert control over their platform with modern Windows which is met by a year-over-year regression in PC sales; at the same time, PC gaming is the industry hotbed of innovation and it is booming as a result. In a time of declining sales in PC hardware, Steam saw a 76% growth (unclear but it sounds like revenue) from last year.

Valve really believes the industry will shift toward a model with little divide between creator and consumer. The community has been "an order of magnitude" more productive than the actual staff of Team Fortress 2.

Does Valve want to compete with that?

This will only happen with open platforms. Even the consoles, with systems sold under parts and labor costs to exert control, have learned to embrace the indie developer. The next gen consoles market indie developers, prior to launch, seemingly more than the industry behemoths and that includes their own titles. They open their platforms a little bit but it might still not be enough to hold off the slow and steady advance of PC gaming be it through Windows, Linux, or even web standards.

Speaking of which, Linux and web standards are oft criticized because they are fragmented. Gabe Newell, intentionally or unintentionally, claimed proprietary platforms are more fragmented. Open platforms have multiple bodies push and pull the blob but it all tends to flow in the same direction. Proprietary platforms have lean bodies with control over where they can go, just many of them. You have a dominant and a few competing platforms for each sector: phones and tablets, consoles, desktops, and so forth.

He noted each has a web browser and, because the web is an open standard, is the most unified experience across devices of multiple sectors. Open fragmentation is small compared to the gaps between proprietary silos across sectors. ((As a side note: Windows RT is also designed to be one platform for all platforms but, as we have been saying for a while, you would prefer an open alternative to all RT all the time... and, according to the second and third paragraphs of this editorial, it will probably suffer from all of the same problems inherent to proprietary platforms anyway.))

Everybody just sort of automatically assumes that the internet is going to work regardless of wherever they are. There may be pluses or minuses of their specific environment but nobody says, "Oh I'm in an airplane now, I'm going to use a completely different method of accessing data across a network". We think that should be more broadly true as well. That you don't think of touch input or game controllers or living rooms as being things which require a completely different way for users to interact or acquire assets or developers to program or deliver to those targets.

Obviously if that is the direction you are going in, Linux is the most obvious basis for that and none of the proprietary, closed platforms are going to be able to provide that form of grand unification between mobile, living room, and desktop.

Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile.

Well, we will certainly be looking forward to next week.

Personally, for almost two years I found it weird how Google, Valve, and Apple (if the longstanding rumors were true) were each pushing for wearable computing, Steam Box/Apple TV/Google TV, and content distribution at the same time. I would not be surprised, in the slightest, for Valve to add media functionality to Steam and Big Picture and secure a spot in the iTunes and Play Store market.

As for how wearables fit in? I could never quite figure that out but it always felt suspicious.

Read on for our transcript of the keynote speech. Bare with us, it is a little bit rough.

Source: LinuxCon

IDF 2013: Intel and Google Announce New Haswell-Powered Chromebooks

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2013 - 06:32 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, google, Chromebook

At IDF this week Intel and Google announced new Chromebooks running Google's cloud friendly operating system. The new machines will be built by a number of PC laptop manufacturers and will be available later this year.

Notably, the new Chromebooks will feature Intel Haswell processors, which Google claims will result in increased performance along with up to 2-times the battery life of previous generation Chromebooks. In fact, several manufacturers are rating the battery life between 8 and 9.5 hours, which would be quite the feat if the number hold up to actual usage!

New Haswell-Powered Google Chromebooks.png

Acer, HP, and Toshiba will be releasing updated Chromebooks with Haswell CPUs and new laptop designs "over the coming months" for as-yet-unannounced prices. ASUS is also joining the Chromebook fray with a mini desktop PC running Chrome OS and requiring a monitor or TV for video output. Specifically, Acer will be putting out an 11.6" laptop that is 0.75" thick and weighs 2.76 pounds. HP is offering a larger display and more battery lfie with its 14" Chromebook measuing 0.81" thick and 4.08 pounds. You trade a bit of portability, but you get a larger display, keyboard, and battery. Toshiba will be unveiling a laptop form factor Chromebook as well, but specs on that particular system have not been revealed yet. As mentioned above, pricing has not been released, but expect the systems to be under $300.

Interestingly, Google claims that six of the leading PC laptop manufacturers are now offering their own spin on Google's Chromebook. Further, the Chromebooks account for around 20-percent of the sub-$300 PC market, according to Google. It seems that Chromebooks are slowly gaining traction though it remains to be seen if they will continue to be successful as Windows and Android budget ultraportable competition heats up and consumers become wary of "the cloud" and Internet applications in light of the various leaks concerning the NSA spying programs. (As Darren Kitchen of Hak5 would say, "encrypt all the things!")

Will you be picking up a Haswell-powered Chromebook?

Source: Google

Qi charging with the TYLT VÜ

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2013 - 04:34 PM |
Tagged: TYLT VÜ, wireless charging, Qi

A feature on the new Samsung phones which we have not had much chance to use is the wireless charging feature called Qi.  The TYLT VÜ is a product which will change that as you can use it to charge your phone wirelessly that came about as the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign.  At $70 from their online store it is not the least expensive accessory available for your phone but it is certainly one of the most interesting. LANOC finished a review of the device and found it charged the phone in about the same time as a wired charger does, you will never have a drained battery with the VÜ around.

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"It’s amazing how far technology has gone when you look at the mobile phone market. It really wasn’t that long ago when the RAZR flip phone was the hip thing to have. Now most people have large screens, fast internet, and more processing power than you would ever have imagined. With that in mind, it does seem a little crazy that we still have to plug our phones in all of the time to charge them. When I picked up my Nexus 4, the wireless charging feature was one of the most interesting to me. Today I will finally be able to show off what it’s all about with the new TYLT VÜ wireless charging pad."

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Source: LANOC

IDF 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer T100 powered by Bay Trail

Subject: Mobile | September 11, 2013 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: transformer t100, idf 2013, Bay Trail, atom z3740, asus

Last week at IFA 2013 I wrote about a new ASUS Transformer device called the Trio that combined a Haswell processor and Atom Z2760 Clover Trail CPU for a very interesting 3-scenario unit.  It is definitely an interesting product worth reading about, but ASUS took some time tonight to announce another new Transformer Book: the T100.

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The Transformer Book T100 is a 10.1-in ultraportable that can be used as either a standard notebook or as a stand alone tablet; exactly how previous Transformers have functioned.  The design is sleek and light weight: 2.4 pounds for both sections and only 1.2 pounds in tablet only form. 

t100-3.jpg

Powering the T100 is the brand new Intel Atom Z3740 quad-core SoC (max burst rate of 1.8 GHz) based on the Bay Trail platform and Silvermont architecture.  Earlier today we published our review of the Bay Trail processor and the performance improvements over Clover Trail are impressive and noticeable.  Energy efficiency is also improved and ASUS claims that the T100 will get more than 11 hours of battery life. 

t100specs.jpg

The screen is an IPS panel with a resolution of 1366x768.  It runs Windows 8.1 and includes USB 3.0 for accessories and external storage. 

t100-2.jpg

The ASUS Transformer T100 will sell for $349 with 32GB of storage and $399 with 64GB.  For the kind of performance levels and platform flexibility we see with Bay Trail, the sub-$350 price point is very impressive.  Will Android tablets start to take a hit with these low priced Windows options?

Being announced today along with the T100, the ASUS Transformer Book T300 is a larger version of the T100 but powered by Intel's 4th Generation Core processors, Haswell.  The ultra-low voltage processor is the Core i5-4200U or 4500U, both of which are new dual-core variants with 15 watt TDPs.  The 13.3-in screen has a 1920x1080 resolution while the hardware can include storage up to 256GB and DDR3 memory up to 8GB. 

t300specs.jpg

With a weight of 2.4 pounds when docked and 1.8 pounds in tablet form, the T300 is still able to muster a solid 8 hours of battery life. 

I am going to have some hands on time with these notebooks / tablets very soon so stay tuned for more info!!

You can read the full press release below!

IDF 2013: Intel Plans $100 Tablets and 22nm SoC Smartphones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2013 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, LTE, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Bay Trail, 22nm

This year at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel is announcing a slew of new products. Among the fray is a sneak peek at some of the mobile devices that will be utilizing the company's Bay Trail Atom SoCs. 

The first device Intel showed off was a small Lenovo branded tablet that is likely the Intel-powered alternative to the current ARM-powered S5000 that was announced at IFA 2013 in Berlin. The Intel powered tablet is using a Bay Trail Atom SoC.

Intel Tablet.jpg

The mysteriously specc'd Lenovo tablet is not the only kit to use Bay Trail, however. Intel claims that there will be a number of new tablets on the way, including models that will be available for under $100 in time for this holiday season. Of course, beyond that specs were not announced.

Intel Smartphone.jpg

Intel also showed off a new prototype smartphone that is powered by a new 22nm SoC. Ryan speculates that the chip is an Intel Merrifield-based SoC which is a mobile architecure derived from Silvermont. The company claims that the move to a 22nm manufacturing process for these mobile chips results in a 50% battery life improvement. Impressive, if those numbers hold true!

Intel Smartphone with 22nm SoC.jpg

The smartphone further features an LTE radio, and Intel shared a speed test of the LTE modem during the conference. Today, the smartphone uses LTE for data and 3G for voice calls, but by the end of the year products will be able to use the LTE radio for both data and voice connections.

Intel LTE Speed Testing.jpg

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IDF good-ness as it develops!

Dell Introduces Powerful New M4800 and M6800 Mobile Workstations

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: workstation, quadro, precision series, optimus, mobile workstation, m6800, m4800, haswell, firepro, enduro, dell

Today, Dell announced new mobile workstation systems in 15” and 17” notebook form factors. The Dell Precision M4800 and Precision M6800 are 15” and 17” laptops constructed of magnesium alloy and anodized aluminum cases, pack some impressive portable computing power, and will be available later this week.

prm6800_m4800_fnb_shot_004_gy_rd_ec.jpg

The Dell Precision M6800 and M4800. Photo courtesy of Dell Inc.

Both the Dell M4800 and M6800 are ISV certified, MIL-STD-810G tested, and support FIPS fingerprint readers, self encrypting hard drives, and TPM security chips. The workstations are updates to the existing M4700 and M6700 systems and can be configured with Intel Haswell i5 or i7  (including i7 Extreme Edition) processors, AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz (or 16GB DDR3 at 1866MHz), multiple storage drives, Waves MaxxAudio, and WiGig wireless dock support that allows up to 5 external displays. Users can attach a 9-cell 97Wh slice battery in addition to the 9-cell 97Wh system battery to get extended battery life. Users can add dedicated graphics cards to the systems from AMD (FirePro) or NVIDIA (Quadro), which support Enduro and Optimus technologies respectively. The technology allows the system to turn off the dedicated cards and use the Intel processor graphics when the extra horsepower is not needed to conserve battery life. The M4800 and M6800 workstations each come with 3 year warranties.

The Dell Precision M4800 is a mobile workstation weighing 6.35 pounds. It features a backlit keyboard, trackpad, and high resolution 15.6” QHD+ IGZO display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. The notebook can be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 “Haswell” Extreme Edition processor, an AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro or NVIDIA Quadro K2100M graphics card, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory, and 2.5 TB of internal storage (two 1TB plus one 500GB drive) in RAID 0, 1, or 5 modes.

The 15” Dell Precision M4800 workstation will be available on September 12th starting at $1,249.

Stepping up to the larger 17” Precision M6800, users can configure the system with a Haswell Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz system memory, 3.5TB of storage space in RAID 0, 1, or 5, and a 17” 1080p LED-backlit 10-point multi-touch display. This notebook weighs 7.86 pounds.

The M6800 will be available in black or phoenix red with a starting MSRP of $1,599 on September 12th.

Business customers needing portable computing power have some interesting new options with the two new Dell workstations, which pack some powerful hardware into a laptop form factor. Sure, they are not the lightest or thinnest machines, but you won't find i7 processors, 32GBs of memory, Quadro graphics, and 2+TB of storage in an ultrabook.

Source: Dell

IFA 2013: Samsung Launches Galaxy Note 3 Smartphone

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 04:35 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, s-pen, ifa 2013, galaxy note 3, big.little, android 4.3

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 3 at IFA this month with updated hardware and software. The Galaxy Note 3 measures 151.2mm x 79.2mm x 8.3mm and weighs just under 0.37 pounds (168 grams). The smartphone will be available for purchase on September 25 in three colors: jet black, classic white, or blush pink.

The Galaxy Note 3 features a large 5.7” Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The smartphone features thin bezels on the left and right of the display, and a single button below the display. A Samsung logo, speaker, and 2MP webcam sit above the touchscreen. The back of the Note 3 has “delicate stitching” that has a soft textured leather-like finish. A Samsung logo and 13MP camera with Backside illuminated sensor, auto focus, smart stabilization technology, and LED flash sit on the top half of the back cover. Of course, the Galaxy Note 3 comes equipped with Samsung's S-Pen digitizer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3.png

Samsung is powering the Note 3 with either a 2.3GHz quad core or Octa core SoC depending on the market. The 8-core chip uses ARM's big.LITTLE architecture and pairs a 1.9GHz quad core and a 1.3GHz quad core. Samsung did not specify the exact chips, but they are likely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Exynos 5 Octa. The smartphone will come with LTE or 3G cellular radios, depending on market (and this is where the CPUs differ, with the LTE version getting the 2.3GHz quad core SoC).

Other specifications include 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Beyond the cellular radio, the Galaxy Note 3 supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and GPS/GLONASS radios. Samsung has packed the smartphone with sensors, including gesture, accelerometer, geo-magnetic, gyroscope, RGB, proximity, barometer, temperature, humidity, and Hall effect.

The standard battery is a 3,200 mAh Lithium Ion battery pack.

Samsung is using Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for the Galaxy Note 3's base operating system. On top of the Android base, Samsung has added a slew of its own software including various applications and interface tweaks that work with the S-Pen. Users can use handwriting to search for content, annotate screenshots, write notes, and issue commands to the smartphone. There is a hover and action menu tied to the use of the S-Pen, as well.

The Galaxy Note 3 smartphone in three colors and colorful windowed flip covers will be available on September 25th. Pricing has not yet been announced. More information can be found on this Samsung web page.

Source: Samsung

IFA 2013: Toshiba Launches 8-Inch Tablet Running Windows 8.1

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 03:14 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, toshiba, tablet, skype, microsoft, Intel, ifa 2013, Bay Trail, atom

Toshiba has launched a new 8-inch tablet called the Encore at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. The upcoming tablet is an 8-inch device measuring 10.68mm thick and weighing 479 grams (~1.06 pounds). It runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and is coming in November.

Toshiba Encore 8-inch tablet.jpg

The Encore has an 8-inch 1280 x 800 multi-touch HFFS display surrounded by a shiny black bezel. There is a 2MP webcam, Windows button, and Toshiba logo on the front face. The back of the tablet has rounded edges and corners. It has a silver-colored finish and houses another Toshiba logo and an 8MP main camera. In addition to the webcam, the Encore tablet has stereo speakers and two microphones (for noise cancelation). IO includes a Micro SD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and micro USB interfaces.

Toshiba has opted for Intel's latest Bay Trail Atom SoCs to power its 8-inch Windows tablet. Specifically, Toshiba has packed a quad core Bay Trail SoC, 2GB of system memory, 32GB of internal storage. Internal sensors include a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS. Further, the Encore features a dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio. According to Toshiba, the tablet exhibits "exceptional battery life," but beyond that the company has not released exact numbers.

The Encore will come with Windows 8.1 pre-installed along with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 and Xbox SmartGlass. Naturally, user-accessible internal storage will be limited due to the size of Windows 8.1. Luckily, users will be able to add additional storage via a Micro SD card. The tablet is Skype certified, as well.

The Toshiba Encore tablet will be available for purchase in November for $329.

Source: Hexus.net

IFA 2013: Lenovo Reveals Yoga 2 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga Convertible PCs

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 5, 2013 - 10:25 PM |
Tagged: yoga 2 pro, thinkpad yoga, thinkpad tablet, Lenovo, ifa 2013

One of the major themes of Lenovo's IFA product releases is the push into multi-mode computing which amounts to convertible PCs such as its Yoga series with 360-degree hinges. Two of the new multi-mode computers are the consumer focused Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga for business users. Both devices will be available later this year.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is a 13” convertible ultrabook measuring 12.99” x 8.66” x 0.61” and weighing 3.06 pounds. The system is an update to the original Yoga, and maintains the dual hinge design that allows the display to fold all the way back into tablet mode.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro_Image.jpg

The Yoga 2 Pro has a QHD+ touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 and 350 nit brightness. Other external features include a backlit AccuType keyboard, trackpad, stereo speakers, and a 720p webcam. There are several IO ports situated around the sides of the notebook including one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one combo mic/headphone audio jack, one SD card slot, and one micro HDMI video output.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Convertible PC.jpg

The convertible ultrabook is configured with an Intel Haswell Core i7 ULT processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 512GB SSD, and a battery rated at 6 hours of 1080p video playback with the display at 150 nits brightness. It also comes equipped with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. The Yoga 2 Pro will come pre-installed with Windows 8.1 Pro. Users can control the Yoga 2 using the touchscreen, keyboard and trackpad, voice, or motion controls. Lenovo further includes software that will automatically list Windows applications on the Start Screen depending on the mode the “multi-mode” computer is in (tablet, laptop, tent, ect).

The Yoga 2 Pro will be available in October for $1099.99 (starting MSRP).

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

Beyond the Yoga 2 Pro, Lenovo is introducing the Yoga form factor to the business market with the new ThinkPad Yoga. The system is smaller than the Yoga 2 Pro but a bit thicker and heavier. It does make several trade-offs versus the consumer Yoga 2 Pro to integrate business-friendly features such as digitizer support. Interestingly, the two systems are priced similarly, and the starting MSRP on the ThinkPad Yoga is lower than the Yoga 2 Pro.

The upcoming ThinkPad Yoga is a 12.5” notebook with a magnesium alloy chassis that is 0.74” thick and weighs 3.48 with everything installed. Users can choose between an HD display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass or a 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen display with support for an optional Wacom digitizer pen. Unfortunately, there is no QHD+ option on this business-class multi-mode PC. Other features include a backlit keyboard, five button glass trackpad, stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, and “all day battery life.” Specifically, the ThinkPad Yoga is rated at 5.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i7 or 8.3 hours with an Intel Haswell i3 processor. IO on the ThinkPad Yoga includes a single audio jack (mic+headphone), SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI video output, and a DC-in OneLink dock adapter port.

The other interesting feature that is exclusive to the ThinkPad version of the Yoga is a keyboard that uses what Lenovo calls a “lift and lock” system to secure the keyboard while the system is in tablet mode. When the display is rotated all of the way back into tablet mode, rubber bumpers and the frame around the keyboard lift up. The keyboard frame lifts up to be flush with the top of the keys. Meanwhile, the keys themselves lock into place such that they cannot be pressed down. This is a useful feature as it creates a stable base and removes the worry that keys would accidentally be pressed during a key presentation (even if the existing Yoga already ignores key presses, having a hardware lock in place gives some piece of mind).

Internally, the ThinkPad Yoga can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell Core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3L memory, a 1TB hard drive plus 256GB SSD, large battery, and Wi-Fi, and NFC radios. The OneLink dock will allow users further expansion options by adding Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, and additional display outputs.

The ThinkPad Yoga will be available in November starting at $949. You can find photos of the new PC at the IFA show in Berlin over at Engadget.

Which would you choose, the Yoga 2 Pro with high resolution display or the ThinkPad Yoga with Wacom digitizer and locking keyboard?

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2013: Lenovo Launches S5000 Thin and Light Seven-Inch Tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 5, 2013 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: tablet, s5000, Lenovo, ideatab, android 4.2

Today, Lenovo announced a new high end seven inch tablet called the IdeaTab S5000. The new tablet measures 7.9mm thick and weighs 246 grams (0.54”).

The chassis has a laser engraved “fabric feel” back cover finish and chrome accents on the side. A large 5” 1280 x 800 (350 nit) touchscreen display dominates the front of the device. A 1.8MP webcam sits above the display and a Lenovo logo is located below the display. The tablet also has a rear 5.0 MP camera.

S5000_Hero_01.jpg

The IdeaTab S5000 is powered by a MediaTek 8389 SoC with a quad core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and PowerVR™ Series5XT GPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD card), and a 3,450 mAh battery. The tablet is rated at 8 hours of continuous Wi-Fi web browsing or 6 hours of HD video playback. It has a OTG (On The Go) USB port allowing it to act as a host and connect to devices such as external storage. The S5000 can further be configured with HSPA+ 3G cellular connectivity.

The S5000 runs Android 4.2 and comes with Lenovo suite of customized smart apps for document and photo editing (among other things). The IdeaTab S5000 will be available in Q4 2013 for an as-yet-unannounced price.

Source: Lenovo