Mozilla Discontinues Firefox OS for All Devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 29, 2016 - 02:15 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, Firefox OS, firefox

Update: There has been a little confusion. The web browser, Firefox, is still going strong. In fact, they're focusing their engineering efforts more on it, by cutting back on these secondary projects.

Less than a year after their decision to stop developing and selling smartphones through carriers, Mozilla has decided to end all commercial development of Firefox OS. Releases after Firefox OS 2.6 will be handled by third parties, such as Panasonic, should they wish to continue using it for their smart TV platform. Further, source code for the underlying operating system, Boot-to-Gecko (B2G), will be removed from their repository, mozilla-central, so it doesn't hinder development of their other products.

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Obviously, this is quite disappointing from a platform standpoint. Many applications, especially for mobile and similar devices, can be created in Web standards. At this point, we usually get comments about how web browsers shouldn't be app platforms, and that JavaScript is too inefficient. The thing is, Web is about the best, ubiquitous platform we have, and it will only get better with initiatives such as WebAssembly. Also, native applications don't necessarily perform better than Web-based ones, especially if the latter are packaged standalone (versus sharing resources with other tabs in a browser).

Regardless, Mozilla needs to consider their long-term financial stability, and throwing resources at Firefox OS apparently doesn't return enough value for them, both directly and for its impact on society.

Source: Mozilla

Samsung Investigating Replacement Galaxy Note 7 Fire

Subject: Mobile | September 28, 2016 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, recall, galaxy note 7

Bloomberg is reporting that a 25-year-old customer from China, Hui Renjie, claims to have received a replacement Galaxy Note 7, and that it caught fire within 24 hours. A representative of the company immediately visited him and asked to take the phone to investigate, but the customer wished to go public first, assuming that he wouldn't get any answers if he just gave up the phone silently. The explosion allegedly caused minor burns to two of the customer's fingers, as well as damaged his MacBook.

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Naturally, Samsung is very interested in what happened. The previous incident involved Samsung-developed batteries. The manufacturing process accidentally pushed some the battery batch's two terminals together. Shorting out a battery causes it to release energy quickly as heat, which is often undesirable, to say the least.

Samsung is waiting to examine the device before they comment further. If you have also receive a replacement, then you might want to keep it powered off and disconnected from the charger until we find out what happened.

Source: Bloomberg

MSI's GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K; a gaming laptop almost as impressive as its name

Subject: Mobile | September 22, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K, gaming laptop, VR, GTX 1070M

At 15.6" the IPS screen on the MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K is just big enough for a 4k resolution to make sense.  The mobile variant of the GTX 1070 inside the laptop is powerful, with 128 more cores than the desktop model and slightly lower clocks but it will strain powering some games at 4k.  The rest of the components are equally decent, an i7-6820HK, 32GB of DDR4 and a 512GB PCIE GEN3 NVMe SSD for your OS and software backed up by a 1TB HDD for storage.  Kitguru mentions in their review that they have seen this laptop running an HTC Vive so VR support is a given.  Drop by to see how the laptop did in their benchmarks and power testing.

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"MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K has an absurdly long model name that gives us a fair amount of information about this impressive gaming laptop. The GT part tells us this is a chunky chassis that can dissipate a fair amount of heat, VR shows support for your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and 4K is, obviously, the number of pixels in the screen."

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Source: Kitguru

ASUS ROG Announces the Strix GL702VM

Subject: Mobile | September 21, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: VR, Strix GL702VM, ROG, gaming laptop, g-sync, asus

It does not yet show up on the ASUS page (there it is) but those looking for a gaming laptop with both G-SYNC and proper support for VR headsets can consider the ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM.  The 17.3" screen is 1080p with full G-SYNC support, though there is no mention of the maximum refresh rate.  Your keyboard will not click but the 30-key rollover should be good for everyone who is not a feline seeking warmth.  It sports a single USB 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, along with three USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort out which ensures your VR headset will work with the laptop.  Check out the full PR just below.

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Fremont, CA (September 19, 2016) -- ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the immediate availability of the ROG Strix GL702VM VR Ready gaming laptop, featuring an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU, Intel core i7 CPU, and a Full HD G-SYNC display for smooth and stutter free gaming. The GL702VM also packs next gen connectivity with a USB 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, capable of lightning fast data transfer speeds and Ultra HD display output.

Portable and powerful gaming
The ROG Strix GL702VM delivers powerful performance in a light and portable package capable of fitting snuggly in messenger bags or backpacks. The GL702VM employs a 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB GDDR5, 16GB of high-performance DDR4 RAM, and a vibrant 17.3” Full HD display. The anti-glare matte display features G-SYNC technology to create beautifully smooth gaming experiences, eliminating tearing, and reducing stutter and lag.

The GL702VM uses a specially engineered triple fan cooling system. The cooling system features independent heatsinks, heatpipes, and fans for the CPU and GPU, while a third fan is positioned to provide additional cooling to the GPU during lengthy gaming sessions to prevent performance throttling due to heat and maximize framerates.

Built for gamers, featuring the latest technologies
The ROG Strix GL702VM features an anti-ghosting tactile gaming keyboard with 1.6mm of travel distance and up to 30-key rollover protection, ensuring each keystroke is accurately recorded. The keyboard features highlighted WASD keys and neon orange accents throughout, complimented by an aluminum lid with a hairline texture finish.

The G702VM is also outfitted with a USI 3.1 Thunderbolt Type-C port, for single-cable data and signal transmission rates of up to 40Gbps, while also capable of serving as a display output, or for future performance upgrades through external GPU enclosures, such as the upcoming ASUS XG Station II.

ROG Gaming Center
The ROG Gaming Center is available on all ROG gaming notebooks and is a portal to ROG utilities, apps, and tools. System monitoring, overclocking settings, setting macro keys, display and audio tuning, lighting effects, network optimization, and more are available via the ROG Gaming Center software.

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Source: ASUS

Just Delivered: ZTE Axon 7 (64GB Quartz Gray LTE)

Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2016 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 7, just delivered

You can, for all intents and purposes, say that I haven't really had a smartphone until now. The only one that came close was my LG Optimus One, which ran Android 2.2 and had a few dozen megabytes of usable, internal storage. That said, I got it for about a hundred bucks around five years ago. I wanted a portable computer based on a modern Android OS for quite some time, but could never justify the cost give how little it would be used outside of WiFi.

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This year changed that quite a bit. With ZTE, OnePlus, ASUS, and other companies fighting for the mid-range space, it seemed like now would be a good time to buy, and the ZTE Axon 7 ended up being my choice. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, which is all over the place it seems, supports OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan, although the depends on the handset vendor to ship the compatible drivers. Since it's likely that ZTE will ship those APIs, especially when Android N is pushed to it, I was able to justify the extra cost with software development. It also has a beautiful, AMOLED display and surprisingly good sound, especially for voice-centric bands like The Tragically Hip.

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One thing that confused me was Newegg's pre-order bonus. For purchasing the device, already about half the price of comparable phones, they throw in a pair of Monster over-ear headphones for free. Yes, nothing is truly for free, and Monster products typically don't cost anywhere near their retail price, which claims to be $200 CDN, but the phone, itself, already seemed like it was pocket change over cost. Makes you wonder how much ZTE is selling it to Newegg for, and whether it's sustainable.

Anywho, I have now joined the modern mobile world.

Source: ZTE

Apple Dual-Sourcing Its iPhone 7 Modems

Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 16, 2016 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple

Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.

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This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.

Source: Fudzilla

The watercooled Asus ROG GX800VH

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2016 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, GX800VH, watercooling

Kitguru got their hands on the ASUS ROG GX800, the gaming laptop with the docking station that provides watercooling.  The design is unique and it certainly looks big enough to deal with the heat produced by a pair of desktop class GTX 1080s and an overclocked i7-6820HK.  The laptop's cooling system links to the radiator and pump inside the docking station via a small port on the bottom of the laptop, which also has dual 330W power bricks to add extra power to the system.  From the testing it seems ASUS really did do a great job, the four different profiles based on the amount of power and cooling available to the laptop do have an effect on performance which shows in the benchmarks.  The price is going to be equally impressive, when ASUS finally releases the GX800.

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"The model code suggests that GX800 is an upgrade of GX700, however that is wide of the mark. GX800 has a similar appearance to GX700 but the hardware is all new, starting with a pair of Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI. Yes, two 1080s in a laptop, driving a 4K display for maximum gaming pleasure."

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Source: Kitguru

It's not a Proton Pack, it's the MSI VR One backpack PC

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 12, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: VR One, msi, VR, backpack, htc vive

MSI released some more images of their VR One backpack PC designed to give you more freedom of movement when playing around in VR and to make it easier to cart around to show off to friends and relations.  We know very little about the internals as of yet, it will have an unspecified overclocked CPU and a GTX 10 series graphics card and will weigh 2.2kg empty, 3.6kg with a batteries installed; it ships with two which are hot-swappable.  At 1.5 lbs each, it will be very interesting to see which storage cell technology they used to reach the estimated 1.5 hours of full speed gameplay.  It also ships with an adapter so you can utilize mains power.

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The VR One is HTC VIVE optimized though in theory an Oculus should work as the connectivity includes an HDMI port, MiniDP and one ultra-speed Thunderbolt 3 port, aka USB 3.1 Type-C as well as four USB 3.0 ports.   Cooling is provided by two 9cm ultra blade fans and 9 heat pipes which should only produce noise 41dBA which is good as the system will be on your back while you are using it.

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Not all the flashing lights on the backpack are for show, LEDs will tell you the status of your battery to let you know when to swap it out.  This can be achieved without shutting the system down, presumably there is a physical switch on the armoured shell of the backpack to allow this feat as it would not accomplish much simply doing it in VR.  You can pop by MSI for more information on the MSI Dragon Center system software and the SHIFT Technology, aka the fan controller.

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Source: MSI

Apple Announces iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with A10 SoC

Subject: Mobile | September 7, 2016 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, mobile, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, DCI P3, apple, a10

Another Apple announcement is in the books, and with it comes the expected refresh to the iPhone lineup. The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some notable upgrades from the previous models, though it's the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack that has been getting much of the attention.

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Looking past the omission of the headphone jack for a moment, what exactly is new and noteworthy here? For starters, the iPhone 7 brings a new SoC to the table with the A10, a new design that is Apple's first foray into a "big.LITTLE" type of configuration. Unlike the A9 SoC's processor, a dual-core 1.85 GHz design, the A10 now offers a pair of high-performance cores, and a pair of high-efficiency cores that Apple says require only 1/5 of the larger pair's power. This sort of processor configuration is obviously similar to a number of existing ARM designs, which similarly combine faster and slower cores in an effort to reduce power consumption - though the 1/5 number is significant. It will be enlightening to see what the actual core speeds are - as well as particulars on the GPU, which is "50% faster" than the A9's PowerVR GT7600.

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Other major updates include the cameras, which now features optical image stabilization (OIS) in the regular 7 as well as the 7 Plus (it was a 6/6s Plus-exclusive feature previously). The camera - or rather cameras - on the iPhone 7 Plus provide separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses, and allow for some powerful depth-of-field effects as demoed during the presentation. The displays contain another significant update - but not in resolution. The previous (low) 750x1344 resolution from the 6s remains in the iPhone 7, with the 7 Plus sticking to 1080x1920. The upgrade comes from the backlighting, which now provides 25% greater brightness and much wider color from the DCI P3 color space.

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The lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack was rumored for months leading up to today's announcement, and of course it will be a controversial topic. The Lightning connector is the only port on the iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Lightning-connected earbuds are included along with a 3.5 mm adapter (which also includes the DAC and headphone amp). The new haptic motor for the new non-mechanical home button is partly to blame for the omission of the headphone jack, but might also have been removed as part of the process to make the iPhone water resistant - a first for Apple.

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Wireless earbuds ("AirPods") were also announced, which look pretty much like the existing "EarPods" with the cord cut off. One final note on sound: the new iPhones have stereo speakers for the first time, with sound claimed to be 50% louder than previous, and now emanating from both ends of the phone.

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The family of iPhones now includes the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, along with existing 6s, 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE. In a surprising move, Apple announced that they would upgrade last year's 6s models to shipping with double the base storage - 32GB vs. 16GB - for the same price.

Pre-orders for the new iPhones begin on September 9th, with pricing beginning at $649 for the 32GB iPhone 7, and $769 for the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus.

Source: Apple

Samsung Responds to Galaxy Note 7 Issue

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7

According to Samsung, there have been 35 reported cases of defective Galaxy Note 7 batteries. In response, they will voluntarily replace all existing Galaxy Note 7 devices “over the coming weeks”. They have also stopped selling the devices, presumably, because they are capable of fixing the devices for existing customers, until the stock can be replaced.

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This comes after reports that Galaxy Note 7 phones have been either catching fire or exploding. Some outlets are claiming that Samsung has confirmed 35 cases of fire or explosion, but, unless these outlets have more information than on the public statement, Samsung has only confirmed 35 complaints, and it's possible that other, related issues were included in that tally (like feeling excessively hot).

They did not mention a specific way for Galaxy Note 7 owners to request a replacement in their press release, but their technical support contact information is available here. I assume that they will point you in the right direction.

Source: Samsung