Back to school specials, dorm PCs and laptops

Subject: Systems | August 28, 2013 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: system build

It's that time again, with students headed back to school and looking for electronic devices to accompany them. The Tech Report just updated their System Build Guides for not only the high end gaming builds but also an mATX system that will fit in a dorm room as well as some tablets and laptops.  With an i5-4670K, HD 7950 Boost and a Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD you will indeed be the envy of the dorm for about $1300 so you will still have money left over for beverages and pot noodles.

Don't forget to keep an eye on our PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard as well.

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"The back-to-school season is upon us, and we've updated our system guide for the occasion. In addition to refreshing our usual builds, we've added a dorm-worthy microATX config and revamped our mobile recommendations."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Lenovo Bundles Start Menu... Which Bundles an App Store?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 23, 2013 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: SweetLabs., Pokki, Lenovo

Hate the "Modern" Windows UI? There's an app... store... for that...?

Several solutions exist to reintroduce the classic Windows interface into Windows 8. Not surprisingly, OEMs consider developing or including some option with their devices as a selling point. Perhaps even less surprising, this solution is considered bloatware by some and tries to suggest apps for you.

Oh Lenovo...

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As Ars Technica reports, at least the software tries to be helpful, almost spiting its nature as a pre-installed third party app store. Pokki, the software developed by SweetLabs, includes shortcuts to the Windows Control Panel and other functions expected of a Start Menu.

It also, from its promotional image, above, feels like it will confuse novice users. The recommendations are prominent and docked against what should be system functionality. The layout is not particularly dishonest but, in my opinion, is too opaque about its intent to sell you applications.

SweetLabs previously struck a deal with Acer to include Pokki and Zynga titles on their laptops.

Lenovo intends to include this software in a variety of products. IdeaPad laptops, IdeaCentre desktops, and ThinkPad laptops were all announced.

pocky.jpg

... no relation to the sweet snack, Pocky... I think?

Maybe a little inspiration?

Of course many users might prefer this software to the default Windows experience. Even on Windows 7, I found myself purchasing and installing DisplayFusion to customize taskbar functionality. I also use BlueStacks, for example, which has its own marketplace and recommended applications.

This software could be good for users.

Mostly I hope consumers, from the out-of-box experience with their new devices, have control and understanding over the situation. Typical bundleware gives that a bad name. I am looking at you, antivirus trials.

Source: Ars Technica

Going from Kentsfield to Haswell, can you see the difference?

Subject: Systems | August 9, 2013 - 05:17 PM |
Tagged: q6600, i7-4770k, upgrade

Haswell has not been recieved with screams of joy from enthusiasts as we appreciate the power savings but are honestly more interested in MOAR POWER!  As an upgrade from Ivy Bridge there are only a few benefits but what about updating from an old Q6600 on an X38 motherboard?  That is what Legit Reviews just did, moving to a Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H and i7-4770K and as an upgrade it is more than impressive; everything from gaming to the productivity of the system skyrocketed as you can see below.  If you are still running a Q6600 on your main rig it looks like saving your pennies would be a very good idea.

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more impressive benchmarks if you follow the link

"We all love doing computer upgrades, but sometimes we have to ask ourselves if a full system upgrade is worth it or necessary. There are times that you may only gain a small percentage of a performance boost, where there are other times that you gain significant increases. Today I am going to compare my original Intel Kentsfield CPU and X38 motherboard to a shiny new Haswell CPU and Z87 motherboard."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Google TV versus Chromecast; is there a difference?

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | August 9, 2013 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, asus cube, google, google tv, htpc

With the release of the Google Chromecast streaming USB stick it seems apropos to revisit Google's other foray into the HTPC business, Google TV.  Specifically it is the ASUS Cube up for review at Bjorn3D which will be offered as an example.  At less than 5" a side it is a tiny device with HDMI input and output, an pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an ethernet port and a connector for an IR sensor for the remote.  It does have wireless connectivity to help keep down on the clutter if you install it somewhere noticeable.  Inside you will find a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 1500 chip, 1GB of RAM and 2GB of user accessible storage.  There are a variety of apps to help you find streams to watch and is certainly easier to set up than a full HTPC.  At $125 is is more expensive than the Chromecast but it is also more powerful, see how in the review.

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"Asus Cube is the device that features latest Google TV OS that want to be part of your living room entertainment setup. With a good design, an unique remote, and $139 price tag, can it push Google TV further where others may have failed? Let’s find out."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Bjorn3D

Surface RT Does Not Have Ethernet. Oh wait. No. Oh Wait?

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile | August 6, 2013 - 04:18 AM |
Tagged: Surface RT, microsoft

It has been a month, to the day, since I picked on Windows RT for being more locked down than a Nintendo console. Devices, including Microsoft's own Surface RT, did not allow USB to Ethernet dongles for wired internet access. Compared to the Wii, that is quite pathetic.

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Certain users have been able to use adapters until apparently, according to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft helped ensure they are broke as intended. They are also demanding hardware manufacturers, who otherwise could support the operating system, to withhold drivers from their customers.

If you were one of those people who managed to get an Ethernet dongle working with your ARM-based Surface RT, you've probably since discovered that it no longer works.

I did not see any confirmation of Microsoft disabling any drivers so, bare in mind, I might have just misunderstood the above quote. Apparently, though, the issue arises from Connected Standby conflicts with those dongles.

But that does not mean Microsoft will continue to prevent Ethernet dongles.

According to the same article from Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is quietly working on a fix for the issue. They are currently working, along with hardware manufacturers, on creating devices which can support the instant-on, instant-off feature. The cynic in me, of course, wonders if Microsoft will be first to market with the, albeit rumored, corrected peripheral.

Personally, I feel that a consumer who purchases one of your devices should be allowed to install hardware understanding the tradeoff. It would not be too difficult to pop up a warning, "Your USB device is not compatible with Connected Standby; the feature will resume when your accessory is removed".

Just another advantage for truly personal PCs.

Source: ZDNet

MSI Launches MS-9A29 SFF Embedded Fanless PC

Subject: Systems | August 5, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: SFF, msi, Intel, embedded, atom d2550

MSI recently launched the MS-9A29, which is a fanless small form factor (SFF) embedded PC. The new PC measures 196mm x 136mm x 43mm and weighs 1.2 kg. The MS-9A29 is encased in a small black chassis that is covered in fins to aid in passive cooling with the front and back banels hosting various IO ports.

Front IO includes four USB 2.0 ports and four COM ports. The back panel holds two RJ45 GbE jacks driven by two Intel 82583V NICs, one line out audio jack (Realtek ALC887 HD codec), two USB 2.0 ports, a single HDMI port, and one VGA port. Finally, the case provides two openings for antenna passthroughs.

MSI MS-9A29 SFF Embedded PC.jpg

Internally, the MSI MS-9A29 features an Intel Atom D2550 processor (dual core at 1.8GHz, 10W TDP), Intel GMA 3650 GPU (400MHz), a single DDR3 SO-DIMM slot (4GB maximum), and Intel NM10 Express chipset. The motherboard can be accessed by a removeable bottom panel on the case. The system supports one SATA drive, one mSATA drive, and two Mini-PCI-E cards. One mini-PCI-E slot can be used for a 3G SIM card adapter.

The SFF MSI MS-9A29 can be mounted to the back of monitors or on a wall. It supports Windows 7 and Windows XP and can output video to two simultaneous displays. It is aimed at kiosks, signage, POS, and industrial machines. 

More information can be found on the MS-9A29 product page. However, the company has not yet released pricing or availability (expect it to be on the pricier side though as it is aimed at business/industrial users).

Source: MSI

Intel Launches Open Source SFF MinnowBoard Platform For Embedded Systems

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 3, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: SFF, open source hardware, open source, minnowboard, Intel, embedded system, atom

The Intel Open Source Technology Group along with CircuitCo recently launched a new small form factor bare-bones system based on open source hardware and running open source software. The Minnowboard includes a 4.2” x 4.2” motherboard, passively-cooled processor, rich IO, UEFI BIOS, and the Angstrom Linux operating system.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux.jpg

The Minnowboard is powered by a single core Intel Atom E640 processor clocked at 1GHz. It is a 32-bit CPU with HyperThreading and VT-x virtualization support. Other hardware includes an integrated Intel GMA 600 GPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and 4MB of flash memory used for motherboard firmware. Storage can be added by plugging a SSD or HDD into the single SATA II 3Gbps port.

The Minnowboard has following IO options:

  • 1 x micro SD
  • 1 x SATA II 3Gbps
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x micro USB
  • 1 x mini USB (serial connection)
  • 1 x RJ45 jack (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in and line out)
  • 1 x HDMI

The Minnowboard also has a GPIO header with 8 buffered GPIO pins, 2 GPIO LEDs, and 4 GPIO switches. As such, the system can be expanded by adding extra open source modules called “Lures.” The board is aimed at developers and embedded system manufacturers. The Minnowboard can be used as the bare system or can be integrated into a case or larger device.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux_top.jpg

The Minnowboard costs $199 and is available for purchase now from Digi-Key, Farnell (UK), Mouser, and Newark.

Obviously, the Minnowboard is nowhere near as cheap as the $35 Raspberry Pi, but it is running x86 hardware which may make it worth it to some users.

If you are interested, you can learn more about the hardware and get involved with the Minnowboard project over at Minnowboard.org.

Do Not Cite Just a Retail Website for Release Dates!

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 2, 2013 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, ps4

Toys "R" Us received attention by listing launch dates for both next generation consoles on their retail website. The Xbox One is rumored to launch on November 29th, which is Black Friday for North Americans, and the PlayStation 4 on December 13th. The two console manufacturers refused to confirm these dates.

Then, something odd happened: a Toys "R" Us spokesperson allegedly contacted BT Games to assert their listing was provided by vendors of Microsoft and Sony.

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You know, a giraffe has a long and easily accessible neck.

Most of the time, I cringe at placeholder information on store product pages. WiiU titles, prior to launch, were tagged with a list price of $99 at multiple sites; I have seen Unreal Tournament 2007 listed with a January 5th 2007 release date... and kept this incorrect date for, as I remember, about 6 months after it passed.

How many expected release dates have you seen for Duke Nukem Forever?

Even with the source, I cannot wrap my head around two Friday console launches. Tuesdays and Sundays have been more typical, I assume due to existing distribution for movies and games, which boggles me about why both would, independently, choose Friday.

I will remain skeptical until official word, or a leaked promotional image, confirms or denies this. My real point, I guess, is how retailers seem to have a policy of made-up placeholder dates and prices. Frankly, I tend to feel better citing an anonymous source.

Source: BT

Cyberpower Launches Power Mega III Workstations

Subject: Systems | August 1, 2013 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: workstation, quadro k4000, quadro, haswell, Cyberpower

Cyberpower recently launched a new series of workstation PCs for video editing and 3D professionals called the Power Mega III.  The new systems are powered by Intel’s latest processors and either NVIDIA Quadro or AMD FirePro graphics cards. The new series ranges in price from $1,099 to $4,299.

Power Mega III.jpg

The Cyberpower Power Mega III series includes the following systems:
Power Mega III 1000
Power Mega III 2000
Power Mega III 3000
Power Mega III 1000 Video
Power Mega III 2000 CAD
Power Mega III 3000 3D

Cyberpower allows users to customize the systems by adding additional storage, graphics cards, memory, and business software. The systems will be built in either the NZXT H630 or the Thermaltake Urban S21 chassis. Cyberpower further uses all-in-one liquid coolers to cool the Intel processors.

Cyberpower Power Mega III 3000.jpg

On the high end is the Cyberpower Power Mega III 3000 3D. Hardware includes dual Intel Xeon E5-2630 processors (both fitted with AIO coolers), a NVIDIA K4000 GPU (768 CUDA cores, 3GB GDDR5), 32GB of ECC RAM, a 3TB mechanical hard drive, and dual 120GB SSDs. This system starts at $4,249.

Cyberpower is aiming the new workstation systems at graphics and visual computing professionals that use 3D design, composition, and simulation applications.

More information can be found on the Cyberpower PC website.

Source: Cyberpower

Origin PC Launches Haswell-Powered EON13-S Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems | August 1, 2013 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: origin pc, laptop, haswell, gaming, eon13-s

Origin PC has announced a new 13-inch gaming laptop called the EON13-S that packs some impressive mobile gaming horsepower in a 4.4 pound system.The new gaming laptop features Intel Haswell CPUs and NVIDIA GTX 765M graphics cards along with ample mechanical and solid state storage drive options.

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The EON13-S features a 13.3” 1920x1080 IPS LED-backlit display, backlit keyboard, and a 2MP webcam. External IO includes three USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one HDMI out, two audio jacks, and a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port.

EON13-S Right IO.jpg

Internal specifications include Intel Core i7 “Haswell” processors, GTX 765M graphics cards supporting Optimus technology, up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, up to a 1TB mechanical hard drive and two mSATA drives in RAID 0 or 1. Alternatively, users can swap out the 2.5” HDD for a SSD up to 960GB in capacity. Users can further choose between a 802.11ac compatible Intel or Killer NIC, and a dedicated sound card up to a Sound Blaster X-Fi Recon3D. Also, an external DVD or Blu ray writer is available. A 6-cell battery powers the notebook and is rated at 300 minutes. The EON13-S will come pre-loaded with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The EON13-S starts at $1,418 and is available now. More details can be found on the EON13-S product page.

Source: Origin PC

Acer Launches Veriton Z Series AIO Desktops For Business Users

Subject: Systems | July 21, 2013 - 12:36 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7, veriton z, touchscreen, AIO, acer

Acer has launched two new Veriton Z Series All In One (AIO) desktops aimed at commercial customers and fitted with 19.5” touchscreens. The two Veriton Z2640G are Energy Star 5.2 rated and have VESA mounting points.

On the outside, the Veriton Z AIO desktops have a large 19.5” touchscreen display with a (disappointing) resolution of 1600 x 900 and a 5ms response time. Other features include two speakers, a built-in microphone, and a 2MP 1080p webcam that can swivel 180-degrees. External IO includes a DVD SuperMulti optical drive, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and one HDMI video output.

Acer Launches 20-inch Veriton Z2640G.jpg

The two Veriton Z SKUs differ on the internal specifications and are the Veriton Z2640G-UC1007X and the Veriton Z2640G-UP2117X desktops. The former features a dual core Intel Celeron 1007U processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM (16GB maximum), and a 500GB 7200 RPM mechanical hard drive. On the other hand, the Veriton Z2640G-UP2117X has a dual core Intel Pentium 2117U CPU clocked at 1.8GHz, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (16GB maximum), and a 500GB 7200 RPM mechanical hard drive.

Both Veriton Z series models also incorporate Acer’s “Dust Defender” technology, screw-less covers and modular components. Using the bundled stand, the display can tilt from 6 to 60-degrees. The systems will come pre-loaded with either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8 Professional (depending on user choice). The Veriton Z2640G is aimed at business, education, and government customers.

Both AIO Veriton Z desktops come with a one year warranty and will be available soon from resellers and channel partners. The Veriton Z2640G-UC1007X has an estimated sales price (ESP) of $539 while the Veriton Z2640G-UP2117X has an ESP of $599. Except for the display resolution, the Veriton Z2640G AIO looks to be a decent business machine.

Source: Acer

MSI GS70 Stealth Ultra Gaming Notebook

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 19, 2013 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: msi, gs70, gaming laptop

Laptops have been evolving towards thin, light, efficient, and powerful... enough for web browsing and that is about it. The internet is a popular thing, go figure, and many manufacturers are nervous about marketing a laptop or tablet which does much beyond that. Razer took a bit of a gamble with their Blade and Edge line of laptops and tablets, respectively, but they have since shown promise.

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Now MSI has not been a stranger to gaming laptops. While not as popular in North America, although they are gaining traction, they are experienced in this market. Perhaps bringing along Steelseries, a main competitor of Razer, might increase your chances? At the very least, you will probably have an epic keyboard.

The GS70 Stealth "ultra gaming notebook" combines an Intel 4th Generation Core i7 with an NVIDIA GTX 765M, up to 16GB of RAM, and a pair of SSDs into a 17.3" aluminum-magnesium alloy case. Also present, Creative Labs SoundBlaster Cinema audio and a Killer ethernet connection.

GS70_keyboard.jpg

The SteelSeries keyboard is backlit in whatever color you desire. Each button has been rearranged in a unique order that I have yet to see; some keys, such as numpad 0 and right shift, to crush the number pad in with the main keyboard which effectively provides many of the benefits of a tenkeyless design.

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A final note, albeit an important one, is their addition of multiple video outputs. Through "Matrix Display", three 1080p displays can be connected in addition to the built-in 1080p monitor. Certain users could set up a multi-monitor workstation at their desk for this laptop to dock into.

Check out MSI's press blast for more information -- except for the all important pricing and availability, those are currently unknown.

Source: MSI

Could Linux 3.11 for Workgroups win the Desktop for Linux? Okay, probably not, but it's a good pun.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 17, 2013 - 03:58 AM |
Tagged: linux, Windows 3.11

Remember the time where Microsoft would only succeed on their third attempt? Did you ever wonder where Microsoft lost their way, instead stuck with some semi-regular sequence of alternating good and terrible? I cannot tell you at what point we lost the magical third version, it left unannounced about a decade ago, but Windows 3 will be its earliest popular example. Windows 3.11 for Workgroups eclipsed the then dominant Apple and helped put a computer in every office.

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Image, Linux Foundation via The H Open.

Even Linus Torvalds, the creator and lead maintainer of the Linux Kernel, referred to the notoriety of Windows 3.11 with Linux heading toward 3.11. That version of Linux is now developed under the codename, "Linux for Workgroups". Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux, can be seen waving a retro-fashioned Windows flag. Perhaps in a few decades when they reach version 6, Tux can learn to play the tuba... or some other type of... long... horn.

A little luck is what Linux requires to become adopted by the home PC market. Unlike Windows 3, Linux has been a great operating system for decades. The real problem with Linux is branding, many equate the OS with command-line inputs, or believe that it does not welcome proprietary software into its open gates. Clearly, both statements are untrue: Linux is the foundation for Android and many other popular graphical UIs, and one can easily be against selling a software's right to exist without being against selling the software itself. Otherwise, very few critiques can be justified against Linux.

Readers: What is your favorite "wait for version 3" example, with or without Microsoft?

Source: The H Open

Velocity Micro Debuts Vision M35 Desktop With AMD FX-9000 Series Processors

Subject: Systems | July 17, 2013 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: vision m35, velocity micro, FX-9590, FX-9370, amd, 5ghz

Boutique system manufacturer Velocity Micro has announced its new Vision M35 gaming desktop powered by AMD’s latest FX-9000 series processors.

The Velocity Micro Vision M35 can be configured with a variety of hardware components on the company’s website. The system can be housed in a number of traditional Velocity Micro cases with internal hardware that includes either an AMD FX-9370 or an AMD FX-9590 processor, up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM, both SSDs and HDDs in various capacities, and up to a 1200W power supply. Graphics card options include a number of cards from both AMD and NVIDIA’s latest series (AMD 7000, NVIDIA 600/700). By default, the Vision M35 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows 8 x64, but users can elect to install Windows 7.

Velocity Micro Vision M35 Computer with AMD FX-9590 and Geforce Graphics.jpg

The AMD FX-9000 series processors are the real news here, and Velocity Micro is among the first boutique vendors to use them. As a refresher, the FX-9370 and FX-9590 are 8-core processors with 16MB of cache based on the company’s Piledriver micro-architecture. The FX-9370 has a base clockspeed of 4.4 GHz and a turbo clockspeed of 4.7 GHz while the FX-9590 comes clocked at 4.7 GHz base and 5.0 GHz turbo. Despite being aimed at the enthusiast crowd, these chips will only be available to OEMs and system builders and not as retail parts.

The new AMD-powered Velocity Micro Vision M35 is available now online with a base price of $2,799. I was able to configure a M35 with the following specifications for $3,169 (and managed to get a quote of $2,969 after a $200 off coupon selectable on the configuration page).

  • Velocity Micro QX-W chassis
  • 850W power supply
  • AMD FX-9590 CPU
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • AMD Radeon 7950 GPU
  • 120GB Intel 520 SSD
  • 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive
  • Integrated GbE and audio
  • (No keyboard or mouse or other accessories selected)

Granted, its on the pricier side, but its not a bad system as far as pre-built boutique PCs go. And for AMD fans, systems like this (and these) are going to be the only official option for getting a FX-9590 processor.

AMD FX-9000 Series Now Available

Subject: Systems | July 16, 2013 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: vishera, TWKR, piledriver, FX-9590, FX-9370, Centurion, amd

If you are looking for an AMD system you can really brag about then the arrival of FX-9590 powered systems at popular retailers like NCIX and system builders like Puget Sound and CyberPower.  Clocked at 5GHz stock it is the highest frequency consumer CPU on the market and as long as you can tame the 220W TDP you might be able to take the chip even higher.  Not every retailer has listed their new systems at the time of posting but right now you can pick up a GENESIS system from Origin that sports a watercooled FX-9590 and depending on your choices the GPU(s) can be watercooled as well.

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Velocity Micro also has a system ready for purchase and the Gamer Scorpius 9500 from Cyberpower will be ready in the very near future.  As you are unlikely to see these CPUs for sale in retail boxes this may be your only chance to get a hold of one of these chips.  The prices of the systems will vary widely depending on what components you want inside but keep in mind that you are buying a completely build and thoroughly tested machine with a warranty so don't dismiss these systems without comparing the pricing to what you would pay to build a machine yourself. 

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Dell Refreshes XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook With Better Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 07:09 AM |
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, dell

Dell has announced that within the next few weeks, it will be unleashing a refreshed version of the XPS 12 convertible ultrabook (tablet/notebook). Although the base price will be increased by $100, the refreshed tablet features Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processor, a NFC radio, and a larger battery.

Specifically, Dell will be releasing at least three new XPS 12 SKUs. The lowest-end refreshed model includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This ultrabook/tablet SKU has an MSRP of $1,199 and is an update to the original base model with an MSRP of $1,099.

Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook.jpg

Dell's XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook (Tablet)

Beyond the starter version, users can upgrade the CPU and memory to an Intel Core i5-4500U and 8GB of DDR3 for $200 more ($1,399 MSRP).

Finally, users can take the $1,399 model and upgrade the storage to a 512GB solid state drive (SSD). This version of the XPS 12 has a MSRP of $1,999.

Dell claims that the updated ultrabook has up to 1.6-times the performance and 2.5 hours more battery life (8 hours, 43 minutes) thanks to the move to Haswell CPUs and a larger 50Wh battery respectively.  Of course, the original XPS 12 used Ivy Bridge CPUs and 47Wh batteries. The new models have started shipping and will be available for purchase around the end of July.

Source: Dell

Xbox Division has a Leader: Julie Larson-Green

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | July 15, 2013 - 02:09 AM |
Tagged: xbox, xbox one

Two weeks have passed since Steve Ballmer informed all Microsoft employees that Don Mattrick would disembark and pursue a career at Zynga for one reason or another. Initially, Ballmer himself was set to scab the void for an uncertain amount of time, further unsettling the upcoming Xbox One launch without a proper manager to oversee. His reign was cut short, best measured in days, when he appointed Julie Larson-Green as the head of Microsoft Devices and Studios.

... because a Christmas gift without ribbon would just be a box... one X box.

Larson_web.jpg

Of course the internet, then, erupted with anxiety: some reasonable concerns, even more (predictably) inane. Larson-Green has a long list of successfully shipped products to her name but, apart from the somewhat cop-out of Windows 7, nothing which resonates with gamers. Terrible sexism and similarly embarrassments boiled over the gaming community, but crazies will always be crazy, especially those adjacent to Xbox Live subscribers.

Operating Systems will be filled by Terry Myerson, who rose to power from the Windows Phone division. This could be a sign of things to come for Windows, particularly as Microsoft continues to push for convergence between x86, RT, and Phone. I would not be surprised to see continued pressure from Microsoft to ingrain Windows Store, and all of its certification pros and woes, into each of their operating systems.

As for Xbox, while Julie is very user experience (UX)-focused, division oversight passed to her long after its flagship product's lifetime high-level plans have been defined. If Windows 7 is any indication, she might not stray too far away from that which has been laid out prior her arrival; likewise, if Windows 8 is any indication, a drastically new direction could just spring without notice.

Source: Microsoft

CompuLab Launches SFF Utilite PC Powered By Quad Core ARM Processor

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM |
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android

CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.

The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.

Compulabs Utilite ARM Desktop PC.jpg

CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.

Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.

Compulabs Utilite ARM Desktop PC Cortex-A9 MPCore.jpg

The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.

The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.

  • 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
  • 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
  • 1 x Micro SD card slot
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)

The rear of the PC hosts:

  • 1 x DC power input
  • 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
  • 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
  • 2 x HDMI video outputs

According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.

Source: Utilite

Zotac Launches New Ivy Bridge-Powered ZBOX Nano SFF PCs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 12, 2013 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, Nano, Ivy Bridge, Intel, hd 4000

Zotac has announced three new ZBOX Nano SKUs that utilize Intel’s 3rd Generation “Ivy Bridge” processors and HD 4000 processor graphics. The new SKUs include base and PLUS models of ID63, ID 64, and ID65 mini PCs.

Zotac ZBOX Nano with USB 3.jpg

The tiny PCs continue to use the ZBOX Nano form factor of approximately 5 x 5 x 1.8 inches. The front of the small form factor (SFF) PC holds two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, two audio jacks, LEDs, and a power button. The rear of the ZBOX Nano PCs features an external antenna for Wi-Fi along with the following IO.

  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet

The PC comes with a VESA 75/100 mount for wall mounting or attaching to the back of a monitor.

Internal specifications include an Intel Core i3 3227U (dual core at 1.9GHz), Core i5 3337U (dual core at 1.9GHz base, 2.7GHz turbo), or Core i7 3537U (dual core at 2.0GHz base, 3.1GHz turbo) processor depending on the specific SKU. The base barebones ZBOX Nano PCs support a single DDR3 SO-DIMM (up to 8GB 1600MHz) and a single 2.5” hard drive.

Zotac ZBOX Nano with nanoRAID RAID adapter.jpg

Zotac’s ZBOX Nano Plus units bundle in 4GB of DDR3 and a 500GB hard drive. Zotac also includes a “nanoRAID” adapter that will allow users to switch out a traditional 2.5” storage drive for two mSATA drives. The adapter supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 options as well.

Pricing and availability for the new ZBOX Nano SKUs has not been announced yet, but the mini PCs should be up for sale soon.

The decision to release new models with Ivy Bridge processors instead of Intel's latest Haswell CPUs is a bit strange, but the SFF PCs have likely been in the making and testing phase for a while. I expect Haswell-powered versions to be released at some point in the future but for now the Ivy Bridge models will offer up more performance than previous ZBOX Nano units.

Source: Zotac

New Ultrathin ThinkPad T440S Appears On Lenovo Website

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:40 AM |
Tagged: laptop, Lenovo, Thinkpad, haswell, Intel, windows 8

A new ultrathin laptop for business users has appeared on Lenovo’s website. Called the Lenovo ThinkPad T440S, it is an Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell"-powered machine running Windows 8.

The ThinkPad T440S features a magnesium and carbon fiber chassis that is 21mm thick. It has a full size, spill resistant, keyboard with multimedia function keys, a TrackPoint, and a multi-touch trackpad. The T440S has a 14” display with optional multi-touch and a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440S.jpg

This laptop will start at 3.5 pounds. It can be configured with two 3-cell batteries with one internal and one removable battery. In this configuration, users can swap out the removable battery for a spare without powering down the system (a technology Lenovo calls Power Bridge). Other features include a 720p webcam with dual noise canceling mics.

IO includes three USB 3.0 ports, one Mini DisplayPort and one VGA video output, and a SD card reader. The T440S also comes equipped with an NFC radio.

Unfortunately, additional specifications and pricing data is not yet listed on the Lenovo site. If you are a business user in need of a thin and light laptop, keep a lookout on this product page for more information as the laptop gets closer to release.

Source: Lenovo