Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 4, 2014 - 11:43 PM | Tim Verry
Amazon launched a bevy of new tablets and eReaders late last month. An updated Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 will be available October 21st and replaces last year’s model as the flagship Kindle tablet.
Measuring 8.9” and weighing 13.2 ounces (13.7oz for the 4G model), the upcoming HDX 8.9” tablet retains the same form factor as its predecessor. The mobile device does pack in internal hardware improvements, updated software features, and an optional bluetooth Fire Keyboard accessory. The tablet features an 8.9” 2560x1600 (339 PPI) display, Dobly Atmos audio, an 8MP rear camera, and a 720p front-facing webcam. Amazon is using what it calls “Dynamic Light Control” which alters the display’s color temperature to match ambient light along with a dynamic backlighting.
With that said, the major changes between the previous model and the new Fire HDX 8.9 lie in updated internal hardware and Amazon’s latest operating system and UI features. Specifically, Amazon has upgraded to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC and a faster (802.11ac) Wi-Fi radio. Last year’s tablet used the Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU. The new HDX 8.9’s Snapdragon 805 is clocked at 2.5GHz and features an Adreno 420 GPU. Both tablets feature 2GB RAM and 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB internal storage options. Amazon claims up to 12 hours of battery life when reading, browsing the web, and watching videos.
The new tablet with ship with Amazon’s latest Fire OS operating system known as Fire OS 4.0 “Sangria.” Sangria is a custom fork of Android 4.4 KitKat that features Amazon’s custom user interface in addition to ASAP predictive pre-loading, Smart Suspend technology, Family Library media sharing, device profiles, and Mayday help/support.
The Fire Keyboard is a 7oz, 4.8mm thin Bluetooth keyboard that can attach magnetically to the optional Origami tablet case. The keyboard features 74 keys (including shortcut and search keys), a small trackpad, Bluetooth 3.0, and a lithium ion battery that has a claimed battery life of two months of active usage. It has an MSRP of $59.99 and will begin shipping October 21.The Origami case is another optional accessory that can hold and protect both the keyboard and tablet. It will be available in black, blue, and red leather for $69.99 from Amazon.
The new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is up for pre-order now but will officially be available on October 21st. Pricing and SKU data is listed in the table below. Needless to say, this is an overall minor upgrade over last year's model and it is not something existing HDX 8.9" users are likely excited about. However, on its own, the new model has decent specifications and if you are looking into a new Kindle Fire tablet, it is worth considering, especially if you plan to take advantage of the faster processor for activities such as gaming in addition to reading books and watching movies.
Pricing Information for Amazon's New Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablet
Will you be picking up the latest Fire OS flagship?
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2014 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Intel, Cherry Trail, Nolan, Amur
As usual neither AMD nor Intel had any comments to pass onto DigiTimes about processors they have yet to release but the chances are that this story is fairly accurate. In March we should start hearing more about Cherry Trail, Intel's 64-bit ultramobile CPU designed for the next generation of tablets. AMD will be working on two chips, Nolan which we know very little about apart from the fact that it will be used in tablets and a new chip called Amur. Amur is an HSA chip designed specifically for use in devices running Android and Linux and incorporates ARM architecture, specifically the Cortex A57. That puts it in the Seattle family which Josh went into detail about in his article here which will make it a rather interesting product.
"Intel's Cherry Trail CPUs will enter mass production in March 2015. Intel is also preparing the Atom Z3000 processor for the 64-bit tablet market. As for 4G chips, Intel is set to use SoFIA-series processors for the tablet market, the sources said."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's Windows 10 Preview has permission to watch your every move @ The Inquirer
- One Windows? How does that work... and WTF is a Universal App? @ The Register
- VMWare virtually in control of Shellshock @ The Register
- IBM teams with Nvidia to launch Power Systems server based on Openpower Foundation @ The Inquirer
- Assorted Fun Linux Command Line Hacks @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2014 - 02:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, source engine, contest, awards
Once each year, Valve hosts a competition, called The Saxxy Awards, to find the best Team Fortress 2 animation. It is named after Saxton Hale, a character from the game's irrelevant (but amazingly well developed) lore that is best known for being an eccentric action hero and executive of a fictional corporation. Its goal is to promote the use of Source Filmmaker and the rest of Valve's user-generated content tools.
This year's overall winner as Animation vs Animator, embed below, where The Scout makes a movie where he torments The Heavy (who responds in kind). The video is likely a reference to the oppositely-named classic series of Flash animations where a stick figure in Flash Professional fights against its creator. Four videos were nominated in each of the four categories, short, action, comedy, and drama, each with its own winner.
Be sure to check them out if you want something to watch for a few minutes, or sixteen somethings.
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840
PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:27:21
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 01:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: blackberry, passport, snapdragon 801
Inside the new Blackberry Passport is a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, NFC, microUSB port and the impressive 4.5" 1440 x 1440 IPS touchscreen. This phone is squarely aimed at the business user who does not consider the lack of apps and comparably poor video and gaming performance to be a negative and is far more interested in being able to read a document without scrolling. Apart from the form factor the interface will be familiar to BB users, the Blackberry 10.3 OS has been available to users for a while now but the battery life will impress you as The Inquirer reports using the Passport for 2 days straight without charging, something the Z10 and Q10 are not capable of. Read more here or scroll down to see what else is up in the mobile world.
"THE BLACKBERRY PASSPORT is the Canadian phonemaker's comeback smartphone, and the firm is hoping the handset's "innovative" design will convince corporate buyers to ditch their Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- DOOGEE DAGGER DG550 Smartphone Review [GearBest] @ Madshrimps
- Sony Xperia T3 Smartphone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sony Xperia Z3 @ The Inquirer
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 @ The Inquirer
- MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro Laptop Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Mbed OS, arm, iot, cortex-m, Mbed Device Server
ARM is serious about staking their turf in the Internet of Things, there will soon be an Mbed OS custom built for their Cortex-M lineup of processors which will pair with an Mbed Device Server to manage clients and process data. The main focus is on low power communications technology as one would expect, with support for Bluetooth Smart, 2G, 3G, LTE and CDMA cellular technologies, Thread, WiFi, and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN along with TLS/DTLS, CoAP, HTTP, MQTT and Lightweight M2M. The project is not new either, according to what ARM told The Inquirer the Mbed community already has over 70,000 developers actively participating or designing products on this platform and there is a long list of partners for Mbed listed in that article. The real focus in many minds is not so much on the current adoption of the Mbed OS, but in how much time will be spent on their second claim, security. There is a lot of doomsday scenarios being tossed around as the IoT starts to come of age, many are farcically incorrect but there are very real concerns as well.
"Called the Mbed IoT Device Platform, the software is primarily an operating system (OS) built around open standards that claims to "bring Internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool" in order to save money and energy in making IoT devices."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft rolls out SMB rental tariffs for Microsoft Office 365 @ The Inquirer
- New Wintel platforms may impact 4Q14 PC demand @ DigiTimes
- Applied Micro: Get lost, PowerPC! We're flinging 64-bit ARM HeliX cores at robots next year @ The Register
- Meet AMD's pole-dancing 64-bit ARM chip: Hierofalcon wants to be in a mast near you @ The Register
- Windows 10: One for the suits, right Microsoft? Or so one THOUGHT @ The Register
- The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs Is Now on the Loose @ Wired
- Fight cancer and win a GTX Titan Black at Bjorn3d
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 08:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Adobe, photoshop, cloud
The Creative Cloud subscription service from Adobe allows users to pay a monthly fee to have access to one or every available product. This ranges from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to After Effects, to Audition, to Dreamweaver. This one subscription follows you, via your Adobe account, through every platform... that they support. Currently, that's Mac and Windows.
To expand that, they are now experimenting with a streaming service, bringing Photoshop to Chrome.
How it works is simple: send Currently, it is limited to Google Chrome on Windows and ChromeOS. Also, the servers do not currently support GPU-acceleration, but Adobe has already announced plans for that in the future. I assume that when this is a consumer product, or shortly thereafter, it will be a fully-featured application. Who knows, maybe they will even bring the rest of their products there? "Streaming access to Photoshop with other products coming soon" ...
People may remember that I was very much against services like OnLive and Gaikai. These do the same thing as Adobe, but for video games. Being an outspoken (to the say least) supporter of art, I found this to be an unacceptable sacrifice for intrinsically valuable content. It is a terrible idea to allow a service to pull your content and replace it, especially for scholarly review in the future.
This is different. While I would always prefer a local application, and would be upset if they stopped offering those, I do not mind having a utility be served from a virtualized instance. If I was working on serious, trade-secret-level content, then I would want to avoid it. On the other hand, getting it to work in one web browser might encourage them to bring the service to all browsers.
From there, Linux and other platforms might just have a valid way to access Adobe's Suite.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 07:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steelseries, siberia, siberia v3, prism, headphones, headset, gaming headset
My last headset was a SteelSeries Siberia V2 and it served me well. The headband was snug, in a good way, against my head and the ear cups were comfortable. Both the headphones and the microphone sounded great from my subjective listening. It died after about a year and a half, though (specifically its right speaker). Still, again, it served me well, especially considering how much usage they saw on any given day.
Now they announced a new family with four siblings, ranging from $60 up to $200 (USD).
Starting with the cheapest, the Siberia Raw Prism, we have a USB headset with a colorful glow. It has a microphone built into the left ear cup. Unlike the rest of the Siberia line (and the Siberia V2), the mic is not retractable. You cannot extend and position it in front of your mouth. It is USB-only for Windows, Mac, and PlayStation. This USB powers and controls the aforementioned "colorful glow" through their drivers, customizable to 16.8 million colors. It has a $59.99 MSRP.
The next level up is the true successor to the V2, the Siberia V3. The price jumps quite a bit, to $99.99 MSRP. Like the V2, it has a retractable microphone and a snug-fitting internal headband. Also like the V2, it has two 3.5mm plugs when used with the included three-ring 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm (one headphone, one mic) plug adapter. No USB support though, at least not without an external sound card.
Which brings us to the SteelSeries V3 Prism, with an MSRP of $139.99. Instead of 3.5mm, it uses USB. I mean, how else will you control the 16.8 million colors, like the Raw. Unlike the Raw, it is a series of dots rather than a thin, circular strip. It also has a better microphone than the regular V3 (more sensitive and a wider range in frequency response - although those metrics are pretty useless when they are not charted in a graph). Again, instead of 3.5mm jacks, it uses USB. Like the Raw, you cannot connect this to a 3.5mm device. For that, you need to go up to...
... The SteelSeries Siberia V4 Elite ($199.99 MSRP). Surprisingly, the microphone has a lower frequency response and sensitivity than the V3 Prism but, again, that does not mean that it is worse. Its speakers have a very high sensitivity, 120 dB, which likely means that they can get loud. The connector is detachable and comes with three ends: dual-3.5mm, three-ring 3.5mm, and a USB sound card. Also included, a 6-foot USB extension cable.
The headphones are now available at the SteelSeries store.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 05:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zelda, 2d, fan-made, gaming
Hopefully this project will neither become abandoned, like a couple of attempts before it, nor shut down by Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: OoT2D is an unofficial, fan-made game for the PC that takes the story and design of Ocarina of Time and builds it around A Link to the Past's artistic design. The most interesting part, for me, is how they will redesign the puzzles and dungeons into a different basis. I would like to compare all three games, Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, and the fan-made 2D OoT remake.
The team built their own engine for this game. To preserve the pixelation, you can use the escape key to select from one of four sizes that prevent art pixels from being spilled between physical ones, creating a blur. The UX is a bit counter-intuitive, but they offer a lot of the customization that PC gamers would love.
The game is not done yet, but a demo is provided. I tried it. It works.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast
When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.
I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?
In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.
Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.