Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

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Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail

Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.

The Droid Guy compiled it with a few scores from competing, ARM, devices.

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Image Credit: The Droid Guy

The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.

Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.

If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.

I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.

Just Delivered: Samsung Galaxy Centura Android Smartphone (SCH-S738C)

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, sch-s738c, Samsung, just delivered, galaxy centura, android 4.0.4

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Find the Galaxy Centura on Amazon!

I recently decided to move away from AT&T and try out a Straight Talk plan on the recommendation of friends. Moving to Straight Talk also meant getting a new phone though, because when I went to Straight Talk last month AT&T compatible SIM cards were still not available.

Long story short, I ended up getting the Samsung Galaxy Centura smart phone and Straight Talk's $45/month no-contract offering, which is around half of what I was paying AT&T! The phone itself cost $100.

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The Samsung Galaxy Centura is smartphone that operates on Verizon's network and runs Android 4.0.4. Not the latest and greatest Android, but Samsung has not "blessed" the phone with its TouchWiz UI and a nice step up from the Samsung Infuse 4G's Android 2.3 OS that Samsung never bothered updating further (heh).

The Samsung Galaxy Centura is model number SCH-S738C (GP). It measures 4.44" (H) x 2.4" (W) x 0.45" (D) and weighs 4.4 ounces. The front of the phone features a 3.5" 262K TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480. A small speaker grill and Tracfone logo sit at the top, while a Samsung logo and three capacitive buttons sit below the screen. The buttons are menu, home, and back. The front of the phone is black and surrounded by a glossy blue bezel that also matches the battery door.

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The back of the phone has another Samsung logo, a speaker grill, and a 3MP camera capable of shooting 3MP stills and 640 x 480 video. The back of the phone comes off and doubles as the battery door. Samsung has put several clips along the edges to hold it in place, and may actually be a bit too secure as it can be hard to get the door off.

A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone, a power button is located on teh right side, and two volume buttons are located on the left edge. The bottom edge includes a micro-USB connector.

Internally, the Galaxy Centura features a Qualcomm MSM7625A SoC with a single core Snapdragon S1 processor (45nm, Cortex-A5) clocked at 800 Mhz, an Adreno 200 GPU, and a CDMA cellular radio. Additionally, the SoC is paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card under the battery door), and a decent 3.7V, 5.55 Wh, 1500 mAh battery. Other internal hardware includes an accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth radio, and Wi-Fi radio. I am not as familiar with CDMA as GSM, but the Centura operates on Verizon's equivalent to AT&T's 3G network for data and vocie (though not at the same time). It is currently connected to Verizon's EVDO Rev. A:8 network. As far as network data speed, the fastest results I have been able to get, as measured by speedtest.net, are 1,276 kbps down and 487 kbps up.

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While it had no problems running Android games at decent frame rates, 3DMark mobile pushed it to its limits. It scored 536 in the Ice Storm benchmark and 281 in the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, for example. Unfortunately, this 3DMark app was not available when I had the Infuse 4G so I am not able to offer up comparison results.

Now that the specifications and pricing is out of the way, I can talk a bit about first impressions. I have been using the smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and it is a fairly solid device, especially considering the price of the hardware (and the monthly plan is cheap too). It is noticeably slower at some tasks than my old Samsung Infuse, but that is to be expected with slower-clocked hardware. With that said, performance was actually much better than I expected it to be. The phone is able to run apps and games without issue, though when multi-tasking the game frame-rate starts to dip. Switching between applications (especially with a game running) is not as snappy as with my Infuse, but not terribly slow either. I'm not sure if it's the newer version of Android or not, but the software side of things seems to work well on this hardware.

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The physical smartphone is plastic, but it feels well built. Admittedly, I have dropped my new phone quite a few more times than I would have liked (heh), but it has held up really well. It has not yet gone plastic to concrete yet though. Dropping it on tile and carpet has not caused any issues, however. When holding the phone and using the touchscreen, there is no creaking of the battery door and it seems to stand up to pressure without problems. With that said, I do have one complaint about the physical hardware, and that is that when holding the phone in the landscape position, the end of the back cover next to the speaker grill gives too much and makes a creaking noise when pressed in (say, when playing a racing game). That is the only area that exhibits that issue, however. It is likely due to the fact that Samsung carved out a bit internally for the microSD card and speaker underneath the back cover on the phone itself whereas the rest of the phone's back cover fits snugly to the back of the phone.

Overall, I'm happy with the phone, it gets excellent signal where I live now and is a good Android (albeit 4.0.4) experience for only $100 for the hardware. If you are off contract right now and thinking about switching to one of the many MVNOs (and live in an area with good Verizon coverage), I'd recommend trying out the Samsung Galaxy Centura from what I've experienced thus far. It is not the latest or fastest hardware by far, but it has great price/performance.

Leaked Screenshots Reveal New Features in BlackBerry OS 10.2.0.483

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 05:39 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi direct, evernote, blackberry, BB10.2, BB10

BlackBerry, the company formerly known as RIM, is continuing to work on improving its BB 10 mobile operating system. In fact, version 10.2 adds a number of relatively minor, but rather useful, new features.

Leaked screenshots of a development build show that BlackBerry has added Wi-Fi Direct support, for example. Wi-Fi direct operates like the legacy ad-hoc mode in that it does not require a wireless access point. It allows devices to form a wireless link directly, and this wireless link can be in addition to the BlackBerry 10-powered phone's traditional infrastructure mode Wi-Fi connection between it and your home router. File sharing and printing are the main use cases for this technology.

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The new build also includes a native Evernote application, a tweaked settings panel with an App Manager option to kill unruly apps, and the ability to add subscribed-to calendars to the BlackBerry Hub.

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Finally, the leaked screenshots revealed what could be the best new feature in that build 10.2.0.483 adds so-called actionable notifications. This functionality allows you to respond to BBMs or other notifications from the notification itself, and without having to switch to the app. These quick-reply notifications are bound to be very useful!

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My first smartphone was a BB device (Bold 9000), and while I have since moved into the land of Android devices (with a quick stop at Maemo), BB10 looks interesting and is something that I've been watching since its release. I hope that BlackBerry is able to pull it together and move forward with new devices and its latest mobile OS attempt.

For more juicy BlackBerry 10 details, keep an eye on the BB 10.2 leaked screenshot thread over at CrackBerry Forums!

BlackBerry Reports $84 Million Operating Loss In First Fiscal Quarter 2014

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 2, 2013 - 03:22 AM |
Tagged: RIM, financial results, blackberry, BES10, BB10

BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) recently posted its financial report detailing performance in the first fiscal quarter 2014. Unfortunately, it did not perform nearly as well as investors hoped. BlackBerry experienced increases in quarterly revenue and units shipped, but it still ended up with a hefty operating loss.

Specifically, at the end of fiscal Q1 2014, BlackBerry reported revenue of $3.1 billion with 6.8 million devices shipped and an operating loss of $84 million. The $3.1 billion in revenue is a 15% increase versus the previous quarter ($2.9 billion) and a 9% increase YoY (year over year). Despite the operating loss (which is actually an improvement over the $518 million operating loss in the previous year), BlackBerry still managed to ship 6.8 million units, which is 13% increase versus the previous quarter. BlackBerry did not detail how many of those devices where BB10 devices, but it is estimated to be 2.7 million of the 6.8 million devices shippped versus 1 million BB10 devices shipped in the previous quarter. At least BB10 is gaining some small amount of traction. Among those BlackBerry devices shipped in Q1'14, the company did state that it shipped 100,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

Speaking of the PlayBook, the company had to break its promise to users with the statement that it would not be providing an update for the tablets to its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. The reason given was that the company ran into performance issued on the PlayBook hardware when attempting to get BB10 running, and because they were not able to get it running smoothly they are not giong to release any update after all.

Needless to say, investors where not pleased with the performance of the company or of BlackBerry 10 which (despite being an interesting mobile OS) has not caught on like many had hoped. Instead, the BlackBerry OS is reported to occupy fourth place in the market behind Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone. BlackBerry's stock price dropped as much as 26% following the release of the financial report, according to GSMArena.

According to the company, the following quarter will see improvements, but it will still be operating at a loss. BlackBerry will continue to forge ahead with BlackBerry 10 OS and the accompanying hardware. The company will further development of BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) 10, and a cross-platform version of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) social messaging client. Handsets are going to be the focus with no new tablets. Finally, BlackBerry is going to continue focusing on cost cutting and company streamlining efforts to reduce overhead and other expenses.

The full financial report is available here on the BlackBerry website.

It is not all bad news. BlackBerry still has a fighting chance and I hope they can turn things around and make the new BlackBerry a success. What do you think about BlackBerry's performance so far this year/ Have you seen any BB devices being used instead of the typical iPhone or Android handset?

Source: BlackBerry

Microsoft Surface Pro With 256GB SSD Now Available For $1,199.99

Subject: Mobile | July 1, 2013 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 tablet, windows 8, Surface Pro, microsoft, 256GB

A recent product listing at CDW indicates that Microsoft is adding a new Surface Pro tablet SKU to its existing lineup of 10.6" tablets. The new SKU ups the storage ante to a 256GB solid state drive.

The Surface Pro tablet is otherwise identical to the existing Surface Pros, however. Specifications include an Intel Core i5 3317U processor with HD 4000 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 10.6" 1080p display wrapped in a magnesium chassis.

The 256GB model continues to run Windows 8 Pro, which means that users will have a bit more than 200GB to play around with after Windows, Office, and a few apps are installed.

The 256GB Surface Pro will cost $1,199.99, which means that the extra 128GB of storage comes at a $200 premium over the existing 128GB Surface Pro ($999.99).

Personally I find the Surface Pro to be too expensive for my taste, especially when $1,200 does not even get me a physical keyboard. I would rather grab one of those Windows 8 convertible tablets I've covered recently. On the other hand, if you are using the Surface Pro for business and you need as much built-in storage as possible, at least the new Surface Pro SKU with 256GB SSD is an option now.

Source: CDW

A Humble Bundle for those on the go

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2013 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, humble bundle

If you are unaware of the Humble Bundle then you have really let yourself down as a gamer, while you won't find AAA titles in the bundles you will find a wide variety of quality games at a price you get to choose.  The latest bundle that was assembled comes with support for a new platform to the bundle, Android 6.  Overclockers Club are not totally in love with the games offered in this bundle but with the extra games available for those tossing in about $5.00 or more you still get a great value and support charity as well.  Check out their overview of the bundle, or just head straight to the Bundle page and pick up a selection of cross-platform games.

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"Overall the Humble Bundle with Android 6 is not the strongest bundle we have seen, but certainly has its strengths. It is hard to see why you would not want to get at least the base games, while the two BTA titles may only be worth the few dollars more to a smaller group of you. No matter how you look at it though, the bundle is a great deal and even if it had only one strong title, it would be a great deal. If additional BTA titles are added at the halfway point, as typically happens, the bundle will only get better."

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Internet Explorer 11 is for Windows 7, Too!

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 28, 2013 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: BUILD, BUILD 2013, internet explorer, IE11, Windows 7

Windows 8.1 will be bundled with Microsoft's latest web browser, Internet Explorer 11. The line of browsers, starting with Internet Explorer 9, are very competent offerings which approach and eclipse many competitors. Microsoft has made some errors since then, breaking standards for personal gain, but their recent efforts in supporting W3C – and even arch-nemesis Khronos – displays genuine good faith.

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HTML5 Developer Tools rivalling even Mozilla and Google

But Windows XP never surpassed Internet Explorer 8, and apart from glitch and vulnerability fixes, Windows 7 is in almost exactly the same state as the day Windows 8 shipped. Internet Explorer 10 made it to the platform, late and reluctantly, along with severely neutered back-ports of Windows 8 DirectX enhancements. The platform update was welcome, but lacks the importance of a full service pack.

More importantly, the hesitation to bring IE10 to Windows 7 suggested that it would be the last first-party web browser the platform would see.

Not true, apparently. During their Build conference, Engadget claims to have spoke with a Microsoft representative who confirmed Windows 7 will receive the latest Internet Explorer. This is good news for every user of IE and every web designer with a cool WebGL implementation but is held back by browser market share concerns.

Honestly, my main concern is with the future of Internet Explorer, 12 and beyond. I am encouraged by the recent effort by Microsoft, but with Windows RT demanding for every browser to be built atop Internet Explorer, it better keep up or we are screwed. The web browser might be our operating system in the near future, applications should not be held back by the least of all possible platforms – be it Internet Explorer, Webkit, or any other dominant browser.

Of course, I should note that Engadget was not being specific with their source, so some grain of salts would be wise until it ships.

Source: Engadget

Samsung Reveals Two New Windows 8 ATIV Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, Samsung, office 2013, haswell, atom z2760, ativ tab 3, ativ q, ativ, android 4.2.2

Late last week, Samsung announced new hardware at an event in London. Among the products shown off, Samsung unveiled the 10.1" ATIV Tab 3 and the 13.3" ATIV Q Convertible notebook. Both machines are x86-64 and run the full version of Windows 8.

Samsung ATIV Q

The ATIV Q is the premium device, with Intel's latest Haswell processor, a high resolution display on a unique sliding hinge design, and a thin ultra-portable form factor. The 13" convertible notebook is 14mm thick and weighs about 2.8 pounds. The system features an impressive 13" touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 (275 PPI) and 178-degree viewing angles.

The ATIV Q has a unique sliding hinge design that allows the display to lay flat in slate tablet mode, held above the keyboard parallel to the keyboard, and in laptop mode with the display snapped to the top of the keyboard and at an angle. The display further supports the company's S-Pen stylus. In order to maintain the 14mm thick figure, Samsung has packed the processor and some of the other internals into the display hinge rather than the traditional placement in the laptop's base (under the keyboard). The hinge also hosts USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports. Here's hoping the build quality is good and the hinge is sturdy as having the internals packed into the hinge is a risky proposition.

Other IO (located around the laptop's base) includes USB, power, and Ethernet jacks. Note that the ATIV Q does not have a touch pad. Users will need to use the eraser point or the touchscreen to navigate.

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Internally, the ATIV Q features an Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a battery that is reportedly capable of delivery 9 hours of normal usage. The integrated HD 4400 graphics will not get you much, but it is just barely enough to run older games at around 30 FPS at 1280 x 1024 and reduced quality settings according to reviews of systems with similar specs around the net.

On the software side of things, the ATIV Q runs the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Samsung is also bundling the PC with a virtualized installation of Android 4.2.2 that runs on top of -- and can share files with -- Windows 8. Users can access and run traditional Windows applications, Windows 8 (Metro/Modern UI/Whatever It is Called This Week) apps, and applications from the Google Play store. The WIndows 8 and Android OSes further share folders such that files can be shared between them. Application shortcuts for the Android apps can also reportedly be linked to from the Windows 8 Start Screen.

ATIV Tab 3

The ATIV Tab 3 was also announced at the Samsung event in London. This device is a 10.1" tablet measuring 8.2mm thick and weighing 550g (approximately 1.21 lbs). It is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The 10.1" display has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Samsung is reportedly including a battery rated at 10 hours of usage. The system supports microSD cards for expansion, which is good because there is not going to be much storage space left for user-space files after the OS and bundled programs.

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The ATIV Tab 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8 and the full version of Microsoft Office 2013.

Pricing and availability for the two new ATIV tablets has not yet been announced. The Q is a tablet to watch out of for though. So long as the build quality is there, I think it will be popular with those fans of convertible notebooks (of which I am one).

Source: Ars Technica

MSI Ships GE40, the New Standard in High Performance Portable Gaming

Subject: Mobile | June 13, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: msi, ge40

City of Industry, Calif. – June 13, 2012 – MSI Computer Corp, leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the availability of the GE40, the perfect combination of ultrabook portability and deadly gaming capability.

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Armed with state of the art components, including an Intel® Haswell Core i7 processor and NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760M, the GE40 weighs only 4.4 lbs. and measures less than 1-inch thick, making it the ideal choice for gamers seeking superior performance and mobility.

The GE40 takes full advantage of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 760M performance by adding a Matrix display that allows users to output to 3 displays simultaneously (including the native notebook display). To complement the GE40’s superior graphics, MSI incorporated Sound Blaster Cinema and Audio Boost, two technologies that deliver amazing surround sound with realistic and immersive sound clarity.

“The GE40 was designed for mobile gamers seeking the best in gaming performance but not wanting to carry around larger laptops,” said Andy Tung, vice president of sales for MSI US. “Even though the GE40 is exceptionally light and nimble, it is still packed with high-performance components worthy of a desktop replacement unit.”

The GE40 comes in a full aluminum body featuring a psychedelic dragon eye backlit design and is available in two configurations: 750GB HDD or 125GB mSATA SSD plus a 750GB HDD for increased performance. It also comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory, Giga LAN adaptor and 2 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0 ports.

To celebrate the launch of the GE40, MSI is holding the “Just Game!” Giveaway through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MSI.ComputerUS. Participants will have the opportunity to win over $4000 in prizes, including a completely new MSI GE40 valued at $1,399.99. For more information about MSI’s complete lineup of gaming laptops, the GE40 or the giveaway, visit http://www.msimobile.com or www.usgaming.msi.com.

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Source: MSI

Razer Blade Haswell Gaming Notebook is Damn Sexy, Powerful

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:47 PM |
Tagged: E3, razer, blade, haswell, gtx 765m, geforce

With the launch of Intel's Haswell processor, accessory maker-turned notebook vendor Razer announced a pretty slick machine, the Blade.  Based on a quad-core, 37 watt Core i7 Haswell CPU and a GeForce GTX 765M GPU, the Razer Blade packs a lot of punch.

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It also includes 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, an mSATA SSD and integrates a 14-in 1600x900 display.  The design of the unit looks very similar to that of the MacBook Pro but the black metal finish is really an attractive style change. 

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The embedded battery is fairly large at 70 Whr and Razer claims this will equate to a 6 hour battery life when operating non-gaming workloads.  With a weight just barely creeping past 4 lbs, the Razer Blade is both portable and powerful it seems.

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The price tag starts at $1799 so you won't be able to pick one of these up on the cheap, but for users like me that are willing to pay a bit more for performance and style in a slim chassis, the Blade seems like a very compelling option.  There are a lot of questions left to answer on this notebook including the thermal concerns of packing that much high frequency silicon into a thin and light form factor.  Does the unit get hot in bad places?  Can the screen quality match the performance of Haswell + Kepler? 

We are working with Razer to get a model in very soon to put it to the test and I am looking forward to answering if we have found the best gaming portable on the market.

Acer's new Liquid phablet, just how fabulous is it?

Subject: Mobile | June 10, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: acer, phablet, liquid s1

The Liquid S1 is Acer's challenger in the chimeric market segment that bridges both tablets and phones, often referred to as a phablet.  Measure 83mm across (3.2") and 9.6mm thick this 195g device is almost all touchscreen, a bigger screen than the Galaxy Note 2 by a few centimeters and sporting a 1250x720 resolution.  It is running Android Jelly Bean with the Butter upgrade as well as Acer's proprietary interface tweaks.  Inside you will find a quad-core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage, though The Inquirer did not specify the exact make of the CPU.

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"The Acer Liquid S1 looks to challenge the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which has a 5.35in display, with its even larger 5.7in HD touchscreen. We got some time with the device to see how a phone of this size fares in the hand."

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Source: The Inquirer

Computex 2013: Intel Demos Baytrail Tablet, Haswell Ultrabook, Ivy Bridge Passive Tablet

Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2013 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2013, Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge, k900, Lenovo, baytrail, silvermont, ultrabook, acer, aspire s7

Intel had a host of new technologies to show off at Computex this year, starting of course with the Haswell processor launch.  Hopefully you have read our review of the Core i7-4770K LGA1150 CPU already but thanks to some video sent our way, we have other interesting bits to share.

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Below you will see Intel demonstrating four new products.  First is the Acer Aspire S7 using a Haswell dual-core platform playing back 4K content.  Next up is an Ivy Bridge tablet that is running completely fanless (passive) thus generating no noise at all while still offering impressive CPU and graphics performance.  Intel then pulls a Lenovo K900 Android smartphone out of its pocket powered by the Clovertrail+ enabled Atom Z2580 SoC.  Finally, we get a sneak peak at the next-generation of SoC designs with a look at a Silvermont-based Baytrail tablet running at 2560x1440. 

Computex 2013: Sony Unveils New Haswell-Powered VAIO Duo 13 Tablet and VAIO Pro 11" and 13" Ultrabooks

Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 5, 2013 - 09:53 AM |
Tagged: vaio pro, vaio duo 13, vaio, tablet, sony, computex 2013, computex

Tablets and ultrabooks are proving popular devices at Computex, and Sony recently joined the release party with three new Haswell-powered VAIO notebooks. The VAIO Pro 11 and VAIO Pro 13 are thin and light laptops while the VAIO Duo 13 is the company's first Haswell-powered convertible tablet (slider style).

All three new mobile devices share Full HD 1920 x 1080 Bravia Triluminos touchscreen displays, ClearAudio+ sound, Haswell processors, and respectable battery life.

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The VAIO Duo 13 is a 13" notebook that can be converted into a slate tablet by sliding the screen forward and having it lay on top of the keyboard. The keyboard is back-lit and sits above a tiny trackpad that is much wider than it is tall. Other features include a stylus, 8MP camera with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software called CamScanner, and a claimed 15 hour battery life according to Sony and as tested by MobileMark 2007.

Internal specifications match those of the VAIO Pro series, with a dual core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD, and a beefy 6,320 mAh battery.
Aside from the small trackpad, this looks like a solid device that matches Intel's "It's a laptop when you need it; it's a tablet when you want it” mantra. At the very least, it looks like a worthy (and improved) successor to the company's existing VAIO Duo 11 convertible tablet.

The VAIO Duo 13 will be available for purchase in Carbon Black or Carbon White later this month for $1,399.

Sony has also announced two new thin-and-light ultraportable VAIO Pro notebooks. As the product names suggest, they are 11” and 13” ultrabooks.

The VAIO Pro 11 weighs in at an ultra-light 1.92 pounds (0.87kg) and offers up a 1920 x 1080 display, backlight keyboard, trackpad (again, rather tiny), and decent internals.
Specifically, the base model Pro 11 notebook is powered by an Intel 4th Generation Core i5-4200U (dual core at 1.6GHz) processor, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. For a bit more, you can upgrade to a Core i7-4500U and a 256GB SSD. The base model has an MSRP of $1,150.00 USD.

Sony VIAO Pro Ultrabook.jpg

Sony's VAIO Pro 13 steps up to a larger 13” display (albeit still 1080p). The larger form factor is still only 2.33 pounds (1.06kg), however which is nice to see. The base model contains a Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB PCIe SSD. Users can upgrade to 8GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe SSD, however. The MSRP for the base model is $1,250.00 USD.

For only $100 over the base VAIO Pro 11, you can get a larger screen and faster storage drive which is pretty good. Judging by the reviews,  such as this one by The Verge, the Pro 13 is the one to get as the Pro 11 is almost too small with a hard-to-read screen and cramped keyboard. On the other hand, if you need portability however, it is hard to beat the Haswell-powered Pro 11.

Both the VAIO Pro 11 and VAIO Pro 13 will be available later this month for $1,150 and $1,250 respectively.

What do you think about Sony's new offerings? Any Duo 11 users out there wishing for a larger form factor?

Source: Sony

Computex 2013: Cooler Master NotePal U2 Plus Available Now

Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2013 - 02:48 AM |
Tagged: computex, notepal u2 plus, mobile, laptop cooler, laptop, cooler master, computex 2013

Cooler Master has released a new notebook cooler called the NotePal U2 Plus that is the latest model in the NotePal U-series. This cooler supports up to 17" laptops and allows you to move the two included fans for optimal cooling (ie, actually put the fans over the vents).

Other features of the NotePal U2 Plus include raised feet that lift up your laptop at a slight angle to make long typing or gaming sessions more comfortable, according to Cooler Master. The cooler feet also aid in cable management by allowing you to loop your long cords around the included hooks. Finally, the NotePal U2 Plus can attach to your laptop and be carried with along using an elastic strap and the cooler feet to hold your notebook in place.

Cooler Master Notepal U2 Plus.jpg

The new Cooler Master notebook cooler is available now with an MSRP of $29.99.

Computex 2013: Toshiba Unveils Tegra 4 Powered 10.1" Excite Write Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2013 - 07:19 AM |
Tagged: toshiba excite write, toshiba, tegra 4, computex 2013, computex, Android

Computex Taipei is not only about gaming notebooks, desktops, and PC components; it is also about tablets!

One such tablet to make its debut at Computex 2013 is the Excite Write from Toshiba. It is a 10.1" dockable tablet with a touchscreen, 8MP rear camera, Harmon Kardon audio, and best of all, an active Wacom digitizer with 1024 pressure sensitivity levels. The 10.1" Gorilla Glass 2 touchscreen has an impressive resolution of 2560 x 1600, which is the same resolution as Google's Nexus 10 tablet. The Write tablet can be docked with the same keyboard case/dock that the Toshiba Excite Pro uses. The Excite Write runs Android 4.2 and comes pre-loaded with Toshiba's TruNote and TruCapture note taking applications.

Toshiba Excite Write Tablet With Wacom Digitizer.jpg

Internally, the Excite is powered by a quad core NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC and 32GB of internal storage (can be expanded with a microSD card),

Toshiba will begin selling the 10.1" Excite Write for $600 next month. Providing the build quality is up to par, it looks like a decent option for students wanting something lightweight but capable, especially with more class material moving online or to eBook formats.

Read more about Tegra 4 at PC Perspective!

Source: Engadget

Computex 2013: ASUS G750 Gaming Notebook Uses Haswell, GTX 700M Hardware

Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 4, 2013 - 01:30 AM |
Tagged: asus, g750, gaming notebook, haswell, gtx 700M, nvidia, Intel, computex, computex 2013

With the launch of new processors and mobile graphics cards, many vendors are announcing gaming systems at the Computex 2013 trade show. One such product which was announced a couple of hours ago is the ASUS G750 17" gaming notebook. This portable powerhouse utilizes Intel's 4th Generation Core "Haswell" chips as well as NVIDIA's GTX 700M mobile GPU series in a sleek aluminum chassis to offer up decent gaming and compute performance on the go.

ASUS_ROG_G750_Gaming_Notebook_Front.jpg

Much like MSI's GS70, the ASUS G750 is monster of a laptop at 17". The aluminum chassis has a brushed metal texture and the large display lifts up and exends forward towards the keyboard slightly to angle the display without stressing the hinge (presumably). The backlit keyboard is full QWERTY with a number pad to the right and isolated arrow keys. A large touchpad occupies the area under the keyboard and has multi-touch support and hardware mouse buttons. The chassis itself has a highly angular design that does its best not to look boxy despite the large form factor. The most eye catching feature is actually on the back, however, where the two large stylized Battlestar Galactica-esque vents reside.

External connectivity options include a Kensington lock, two USB 3.0 ports, and a DVD multi drive on the left side of the G750. The right side of the gaming notebook hosts the power jack, and VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs as well as two USB 3.0 and two 3.5mm audio jacks. The headphone jack doubles as a S/PDIF output and also features a built-in headphone amplifier. ASUS Sonic Master audio and AudioWizard software offers 5 genre audio equalization modes.

ASUS_ROG_G750_Gaming_Notebook_Rear.jpg

As mentioned above, the system will use Core i7 Intel Haswell CPUs and the new NVIDIA GTX 700M graphics cards, which you can read about here. The exact CPU and GPU you get will depend on your configuration choices at checkout, though expect at least the GTX765M to be available.

ASUS has not yet announced pricing or availability for the G750. You can find the full release linked below.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2013: MSI Launches GS70 17" Gaming Notebook With GTX765M Graphics

Subject: Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 10:59 PM |
Tagged: computex 2013, computex, nvidia, msi, kepler, Intel, haswell, gtx 700M, gs70, gaming notebook

A couple of weeks ago, MSI revealed the GX70 and GX60 gaming notebooks powered by AMD's latest Richland APUs and 8970M (and 7970M) discrete graphics cards. Today, the company added the GS70 notebook to its lineup, and it is the opposite in terms of underlying technology. Specifically, the GS70 is a 17" gaming notebook with an Intel Haswell processor and a NVIDIA GTX765M. The portable gaming machine is 22mm thick and weighs in at less than 5.7 pounds (2.6kg), which is a noticeably weight reduction versus the Richland-powered models.

MSI GS70 Stealth 17-inch Gaming Notebook.jpg

Expert Reviews UK goes hands-on with a prototype of the MSI GS70 at Computex 2013.

The GS70 comes clad in glossy black and is constructed of aluminum. External features include a large 17" (likely TN) display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, a SteelSeries-engineered multicolor backlit keyboard, and a large trackpad. Connectivity options include:

  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45 LAN jack
  • 3 x audio jacks (with surround sound support)
  • 1 x SD card slot
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x mini DisplayPort

Internal specifications include a not-yet-named Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell" CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a NVIDIA GTX 765M. The discrete GPU is based on NVIDIA's Kepler architecture and features 768 CUDA cores clocked at 850 MHz and up to 2GB of graphics memory clocked at 1 GHz on a 128-bit bus. The system also uses a Killer NIC networking card and MSI's own SuperRAID technology that pairs two solid state drives in a RAID configuration for pure performance. The system should be able to play all modern PC games, though some details will need to be turned down. Multi-display output is supported for up to three external displays as well.

Unfortunately, MSI has not yet announced pricing or availability for this notebook. I would expect it to (paradoxically, despite the naming conventions) cost more than the existing GX70 (due to the newer, and faster, technology used) which starts at $1,399.99 MSRP. Keep an eye out for reviews later this year if you are interested in a mobile gaming PC, as this one looks interesting. Until then, Expert Reviews UK has some initial impressions and additional photos in this article.

Computex 2013: Dell Shows Off XPS 11 Convertible Tablet With 1440p Display

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: xps 11, windows 8, dell, convertible tablet, computex 2013, computex, 1440p

Dell is showing off a new XPS 11 convertible tablet PC at Computex. The new tablet takes cues from Lenovo's Yoga ultrabook and switches out the traditional Dell center hinge for a new Yoga-like 180-degree hinge that folds back until the display is on the opposite side of the keyboard. In another twist, Dell has opted for a flat keyboard with keys that have no physical travel. Instead, it offers adjustable haptic and audio feedback when typing.

Dell XPS 11 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet With 1440p display.jpg

Engadget goes hands-on with Dell's new XPS 11.

Dell has managed to create an 11.6” convertible notebook that is 15mm thick and less than 2.5 pounds. According to Dell representatives on the show floor, the XPS 11 will come with a high resolution 2560 x 1440 IPS touchscreen display, which is practically-unheard of for such a tiny form factor notebook. Even better, the tablet will come with a pressure sensitive active digitizer.

The XPS 11 will run Windows 8, and is likely powered by Intel's Haswell “4th Generation Core” processor. However, Dell has not yet announced any internal specifications and the device on the show floor is merely a prototype. In other words, the design and internal hardware is not yet finalized and subject to change.

Dell XPS 11 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet With 1440p display and 180-degree hinge.jpg

Engadget managed to get some hands on time with the XPS 11 at Computex. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to try out the keyboard or use the digitizer. Judging by the hands-on photos they shot, the upcoming tablet will support USB 3.0, SD cards, audio and HDMI output.

The 1440p display is impressive and the new keyboard should allow the device be more ergonomic in tablet mode. I'm intrigued but skeptical about my ability to use this as a daily driver device with the flat, no travel, keyboard. At the very least, hopefully it spawns some competition for 11.6” devices with high resolution displays!
 

Source: Engadget

Computex 2013: Gigabyte Launches U21M Convertible Tablet With An Intel Haswell CPU

Subject: Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, u21m, Intel, haswell, gigabyte, convertible tablet, computex 2013, computex

Gigabyte launched its U21M convertible tablet at Computex this week. The Windows 8 PC is an 11.6” convertible notebook that is 20mm thick and weights approximately 3.28 pounds (or 3.06 lbs without HDD). It is powered by an Intel Haswell CPU with HD4000 processor graphics and it runs the full x86-64 version of Windows 8.

Gigabyte U21M Convertible Tablet.jpg

The notebook features a black and slate gray colored chassis that has a brushed metal texture over the top of the keyboard deck and display bezel. Design wise, it is reminiscent of Dell's Latitude XT series with more curves. The U21M uses a similar center 180-degree hinge that allows the display to be rotated around and then laid flat against the keyboard to enable tablet mode. There are no face function buttons on the display bezel aside from the Windows key, however.

Gigabyte has made ample use of the 11.6” form factor by designing a keyboard that stretches from one side of the system to the other. The six-row keyboard looks to be well laid out with good spacing between the keys and no real key placement oddities. key travel may be an issue though as the keys are close to the metal, as it were.  Below the keyboard is a large touchpad with hardware mouse buttons.

The display itself is an 11.6” capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1366 x 768. There does not appear to be digitizer/stylus support on the U21M, however. Above the touchscreen is a 1.3MP webcam. It also features two 1.5W speakers.

External IO options include:

  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x Audio
  • 1 x SD
  • 1 x SIM card slot

Internally, the U21M does not disappoint, with an Intel Haswell CPU, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, and either a 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSD plus an optional mechanical hard drive up to 1TB. There is no discrete GPU, however. The system will rely on the Haswell CPU's processor graphics, though Gigabyte has not announced specific chips so the iGPU used is unknown. Wireless connectivity options include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE, and a built-in 3.5G radio. The system uses a respectable 7.4V, 40Wh Lithium-Polymer battery.

Gigabyte U21M Convertible Tablet In Tablet Mode.jpg

Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability dates, but you can find all the specifications along with additional photos on this product page.

My thought on this system is that it might be a good upgrade once my Dell Latitude XT finally dies on me (heh). It should definitely be faster and get much better battery life than my current convertible tablet, that's for sure! I'll be on the lookout for reviews, but what do you think about the U21M so far? If only it came in blue...

Source: Gigabyte