Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 25, 2015 - 12:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows phone, windows 10 mobile, Surface Pro, Skylake, microsoft band, microsoft, lumia, Intel
Earlier this month, Microsoft sent out invites to members of the press for an event to be held on October 6th at the Skylight at the Moynihan Station in New York City. Naturally, Microsoft was short on details on what exactly will be covered. The rumor mill on the Internet (surely the most reliable of sources!) is set on the idea that the event will be used to launch a slew of new hardware products and refresh its mobile and wearable product stacks.
The rumored products include at least two new Windows Phone 10 Lumia smartphones, a refreshed Microsoft Band 2, and new Surface Pro 4 tablet.
On the smartphone front, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both have fairly generous specifications for Windows Phone devices (running Windows 10 Mobile). The 950 sports a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 display, a six core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of internal memory, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery pack.
Moving up to the 950XL allegedly gets you a larger 5.7-inch display (though it is still at the same 1440p resolution) and a faster Snapdragon 810 SoC (four Cortex A57 at up to 2GHz and four lower power A53 cores along with the Adreno 430 GPU). Oddly, the battery pack is rumored to be only slightly larger than the Lumia 950 at 3,300 mAh which may result in lower battery life thanks to the larger display and faster processor.
Both phones will also feature a 20 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front camera, an iris scanner for Windows Hello, Qi wireless charging support, and a USB Type-C port for data and charging purposes.
Further, Microsoft is reported to be launching the Microsoft Band 2, a new (and sleek looking) wearable. The band, powered by an ARM Cortex M4 SoC and two 100 mAh batteries will sport a curved display and improved ergonomic design that can be used to see notifications, track your fitness, and interact with your smartphone using the built in microphone. The Band 2 is said to be compatbile with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android operating systems and connects via Bluetooth 4.0.
Lastly, rumors are pointing towards a new Surface Pro tablet being launched at the event though there has yet to be a consensus on the (alleged) specifications. Some rumors point towards Skylake while others point at Core M (Broadwell) being the processor of choice. Personally, I am leaning towards Microsoft using one of the new mobile Skylake chips for this possible Surface Pro 4 tablet PC. Broadwell with Iris Pro graphics would be nice to see, however...
In any event, I suppose that we will just have to wait and see what comes of this event in two weeks time. I do not have much to say on the smartphone or Surface Pro fronts (except that the tablet will be expensive no matter what the hardware ends up being, heh), but I’m liking the new Microsoft Band -- if they could somehow hit a lower price point I’m sold!
What are your thoughts on the rumors--what new hardware are you expecting to be announced next month?
Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2015 - 10:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android
PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.
Full Story Listing:
The last time I used an Apple phone as my primary device was with the release of the iPhone 3G. It remained by my side for a full year when it was replaced by the…Palm Pre in mid-2009. Yes, I loved that Pre, but let’s not depress anyone here today. After my time with the Palm device I moved over to the world of Android with the HTC Evo 4G in early 2010. The move wasn’t easy at the time – Android was messy, frequently unstable and the app ecosystem was still getting started.
But I stuck with the Google platform, diving headfirst into a world of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, etc. I moved through countless Android phones in my never ending quest to find better hardware and, maybe more importantly, better software. I had the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 5 – I had phones from Samsung, LG and Motorola. Even oddball companies like OnePlus found their way into my pocket, so to speak. Most recently the everyday device has been the Motorola Droid Turbo, purchased due to its faster processor and extended battery life.
In the past year or so PC Perspective has put emphasis on the mobile market in terms of phones and tablet reviews. You can find reviews of the ASUS Zenfone 2, Motorola Moto E, and Galaxy Note 4 on pcper.com, in addition to numerous articles that look at the SoC architectures from Qualcomm, ARM, Intel and others. And for every phone review you actually saw, there are 1-2 other phones that are purchased or sampled, used for context and internal testing.
But despite the fact that Ken, Allyn and others on the PC Perspective staff have and use Apple products, I personally had spent no time with any iPhone since the release of the iPhone 3G. With Apple by far the most dominant player in the mobile space, this is just dumb on my part. How can I pretend to offer informed opinions on the selection of smartphones to our readers and viewers without even giving the annually updated Apple iPhone a chance?
To fix this, I ordered myself an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Rather than just get the phone in, run some benchmarks, take some sample photos and write a typical review of the new iPhone 6s, I thought it might be interesting to our readers to take them along on a journey. Starting tomorrow when the iPhone 6s arrives I will be swap out my Verizon SIM card and commit to using it as my only mobile phone for the next 30 days. I think it’s only fair, considering the drastic ecosystem differences between Android and iOS, to engulf myself in the iPhone platform completely rather than simply keep it with me as a secondary device. (That’s something I typically do with Android review units.)
My new smartphone. I'm not sure I'm ready.
As an Android user for many years, I am familiar with many of the stereotypes associated with the iPhone and its users: closed platform, overpriced hardware, complications with access to data and photos, etc. But is it really that bad? Too many of my friends and family use iPhones for me to believe it’s THAT bad. So I’m going to find out.
I'm honestly nervous about a handful of things already:
- How much am I going to miss having Quick Charge capability?
- How many Lightning cables am I going to have to buy to replace the locations I have micro USB cables at?
- How can I easily access the full resolution photos I take on the phone?
- Am I REALLY going to have to use iTunes again?
- Will I be able to recreate the workflow I am used to on Android? Apps like Gmail, Calendar, Keep and doubleTwist are essential!
- Will this new "Move to iOS" applications on the Play Store actually work?
I plan to write frequent entries to this series, offering up my thoughts on the performance, application ecosystem, camera, battery life, gaming capability, accessory market and more. You'll see some posts that simply discuss my experiences that day and others that show performance data or battery metrics. What is it like to suddenly decide to “change sides” at this point in the Android / iOS war?
Let’s find out.
Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2015 - 07:55 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: usb, snapdragon 820, Quick Charge 3.0, Quick Charge, qualcomm, mobile, battery charger
Qualcomm has announced Quick Charge 3.0, the latest iteration of their fast battery charging technology. The new version is said to not only further improve battery charging times, but also better maintain battery health and reduce temperatures.
One of the biggest issues with fast battery charging is the premature failure of the battery cells; something my first Nexus 6 (which was replaced due to a bad battery) can attest to. The new 3.0 standard adds "Battery Saver Technology" (BST) which constantly varies the current delivery rate based on what the battery can safely accept, thus preventing damage to the cells. This new version of Quick Charge also claims to offer lower temps while charging, which could be partly the result of this variable current delivery.
The other change comes from "Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage" (INOV), which can vary the voltage delivery anywhere from 3.6V to 20V in 200mV increments depending on the device's negotiated connection. INOV will allow Quick Charge 3.0 to charge a full 2x faster than the original Quick Charge 1.0 (it's 1.5x faster than QC 2.0), and 4x over standard USB charging as it provides up to 60W to compatible devices.
This new Quick Charge 3.0 technology will be available soon with devices featuring upcoming Qualcomm SoCs such as the Snapdragon 820.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 22, 2015 - 08:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Nexus, google, Android
Well, the event is apparently official. It's the contents that are rumored...
It's been a little while since Google announced new Android phones, almost a year in fact. Two phones have been rumored this year, which are allegedly named the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. I am not sure how much of the leaks are pure speculation, versus grounded in actual fact, so I will leave it as an exercise to you to read a couple of links that summarize them. A grain of salt will be necessary of course. It's not that we are afraid to look at rumors, as we do so frequently, but I'd rather not play arbitrator this time. I don't think that I can research this topic enough to arrive at a sufficient level of confidence at the moment.
What I can say is that Google will host an event on September 29th, 2015, to announce whatever they have. The invitations have gone out to sites like CNet and it will present devices that use Android 6.0 M, which Google announced stands for “Marshmallow” last August. An updated Chromecast is also expected to be launched at the same event.
Subject: Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, GTX 980M, GT72 Dominator Pro
It will cost you a pretty penny to pick up but if you are a laptop gamer the new MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is going to tempt you. The laptop contains the mobile GTX 980 which Ryan recently covered, powerful enough to make G-SYNC run smoothly as well as offering support for sending 4K video. The actual notebook display is 1080p, sufficient for mobile gaming but you will want to invest in a serious 4K HDMI monitor to game on when you are at home. The PR is below and you can read more about the options and models straight from MSI right here.
City of Industry, Calif. – Sept 22, 2015 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, celebrates its 29th anniversary, presenting the availability of its flagship gaming notebook, the GT72 Dominator Pro, with NVIDIA’s most advanced and highest performance GPU, the GeForce GTX 980.
Designed to bring desktop gaming graphics to a notebook, NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX GPU runs all 2048 cores at full clocks and full performance, resulting in the most immersive experience available. NVIDIA’s newest GPU is also built for overclocking and virtual reality, with NVIDIA Maxwell architecture and loaded with NVIDIA GameWorks VR Technologies for blistering fast and highly responsive VR graphics. 3D Mark 11 performance, when over-clocking, is expected to reach over P14,500 points, which is as powerful as that of desktops with GTX980 graphics. MSI fans may experience smoother DirectX 12 extreme gaming effects on Windows 10 for enhanced image quality and details with 3K or even 4K resolutions.
“The combination of NVIDIA’s latest GPU and the cutting edge components inside the GT72 Dominator Pro will astound even the most serious desktop gamers,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “The GT72 Dominator has always been a mobile gaming beast, and now the beast is even more powerful.”
MSI’s refreshed GT72 Dominator Pro armed with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU is ready to shatter records with Intel’s latest Core i7 processor, up to 32 GBs of DDR4 RAM, Killer Gaming Network Connectivity, and more. In additional, it enjoys NVIDIA’s BatteryBoost technology for longer battery life, NVIDIA’s Optimus technology that optimizes notebook performance, and a vast array of other features such as G-SYNC and Surround gameplay technology.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 11:48 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: transformer book, TP200SA, T100HA, intel atom, convertible tablet, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asus, 2-in-1
ASUS has updated their Transformer Book lineup today with new options for both the convertible tablet and 2-in-1 laptop designs.
First up we have the revised T100 model, the T100HA, which has a significant hardware update. Now featuring an Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5 Z8500 processor over the current T100TA's Bay Trail-T options, and the T100HA also features 4GB of memory standard.
Here's a look at the full specs from ASUS:
- Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom 'Cherry Trail' x5 Z8500 (up to 2.24 GHz, 2MB L2)
- Display: 10.1in WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS panel
- Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
- Networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Tablet I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps), 1x Micro USB port, 1x Micro HDMI, 1x Micro SD card slot, 1x headphone/mic combo jack
- Keyboard dock I/O: 1x USB 2.0
- Cameras: 2MP front / 5MP back
- Operating System: Windows 10
- Size: (Tablet) 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.33 inches; (Keyboard Dock)
- 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.28~0.39 inches
- Weight: (Pad only) 1.28 lbs; (Keyboard dock) 1.04 lbs
Next up we have the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA, an 11.6-inch 2-in-1 design with an Intel Celeron N3050 (Braswell) processor.
Here are specs for the TP200SA:
- Processor: Quad-core Intel Celeron 'Braswell' N3050 (up to 2.16 GHz, 2MB L2)
- Display: 11.6in WXGA (1366 x 768) IPS panel
- Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
- Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
- I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Micro
- HDMI, 1x Micro SD, 1x headphone/mic combo
- Camera: VGA front
- Operating system: Windows 10
- Color: Dark Blue
- Size: 11.69 x 7.93 x 0.73 inches
- Weight: 2.65 lbs
These new Transformer Book models are set for a late September availability with pricing at $299 for the T100HA and $349 for the TP200SA.
Pack a full GTX 980 on the go!
For many years, the idea of a truly mobile gaming system has been attainable if you were willing to pay the premium for high performance components. But anyone that has done research in this field would tell you that though they were named similarly, the mobile GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA had a tendency to be noticeably slower than their desktop counterparts. A GeForce GTX 970M, for example, only had a CUDA core count that was slightly higher than the desktop GTX 960, and it was 30% lower than the true desktop GTX 970 product. So even though you were getting fantastic mobile performance, there continued to be a dominant position that desktop users held over mobile gamers in PC gaming.
This fall, NVIDIA is changing that with the introduction of the GeForce GTX 980 for gaming notebooks. Notice I did not put an 'M' at the end of that name; it's not an accident. NVIDIA has found a way, through binning and component design, to cram the entirety of a GM204-based Maxwell GTX 980 GPU inside portable gaming notebooks.
The results are impressive and the implications for PC gamers are dramatic. Systems built with the GTX 980 will include the same 2048 CUDA cores, 4GB of GDDR5 running at 7.0 GHz and will run at the same base and typical GPU Boost clocks as the reference GTX 980 cards you can buy today for $499+. And, while you won't find this GPU in anything called a "thin and light", 17-19" gaming laptops do allow for portability of gaming unlike any SFF PC.
So how did they do it? NVIDIA has found a way to get a desktop GPU with a 165 watt TDP into a form factor that has a physical limit of 150 watts (for the MXM module implementations at least) through binning, component selection and improved cooling. Not only that, but there is enough headroom to allow for some desktop-class overclocking of the GTX 980 as well.
A Diverse Lineup
ThinkPads have always been one of our favorite notebook brands here at PC Perspective. While there certainly has been some competition from well-designed portables such as the Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the ThinkPad line remains a solid choice for power users.
We had the chance to look at a lot of Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup for Broadwell, and as this generation comes to a close we decided to give a brief overview of the diversity available. Skylake-powered notebooks may be just on the horizon, but the comparisons of form factor and usability should remain mostly applicable into the next generation.
Within the same $1200-$1300 price range, Lenovo offers a myriad of portable machines with roughly the same hardware in vastly different form factors.
First, let's take a look at the more standard ThinkPads.
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
The ThinkPad T450s is my default recommendation for anyone looking for a notebook in the $1000+ range. Featuring a 14" 1080p display and an Intel Core i5-5300U processor, it will perform great for the majority of users. While you won't be using this machine for 3D Modeling or CAD/CAM applications, general productivity tasks will feel right at home here.
Technically classified as an Ultrabook, the T450s won't exactly be turning any heads with it's thinness. Lenovo strikes a balance here, making the notebook as thin as possible at 0.83" while retaining features such as a gigabit Ethernet port, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, an SD card reader, and plenty of display connectivity with Mini DisplayPort and VGA.
Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2015 - 06:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, CyanogenMod, cyanogen, cortana
A few months ago, Cyanogen and Microsoft have agreed to bring some of the latter's services into the former's distribution of Android. While apps like Skype and OneNote will likely be the same experience as if the user just downloaded the apps directly, other Microsoft services could benefit from a tighter integration, such as OneDrive -- although we don't have any news on that front.
Another example is Cortana, and Cyanogen's CEO has just announced that the digital assistant is coming to the next version of Cyanogen OS. One of the distribution's goals is to create a version of Android that is not reliant upon Google's services, which initially sounds like they aim to eliminate these low-level services. With this announcement, it sounds more like they just want to inject third parties in its place, with Microsoft being at least the early partner.
This is a definite win for Microsoft on the services side of things. While I'm sure that many fans of the corporation believe that Microsoft is watering down their ecosystem, the company no longer views their software platform as the bounds of their market share. This deal is clearly acceptable to them, because they made it.
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: YOGA Tab 3, yoga, x5-Z8500, Tab 3 Pro, pico projector, Lenovo, IFA 2015, Dolby Atmos
Lenovo’s newest Yoga tablets have arrived boasting some serious entertainment cred. The main event is the YOGA Tab 3 Pro 10, a 10.1” Android device with a 2560x1600 display, built-in 70-inch projector, and Dolby Atmos digital surround (!).
It makes sense that Lenovo would have tailored their Android-powered Yoga 3 tablets for entertainment as tablets are often used for content consumption at home or on the go. But I wouldn’t have imagined Dolby Atmos (the new surround tech that adds vertical sounds to the mix) to find its way into a tablet, let alone one that will retail for $499. And let’s not forget about what Lenovo is calling a world first, that 70-inch rotating projector!
While there was no listed resolution for the projector I don’t think it’s full HD (likely 480p).
What about the rest of the tablet? It’s powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8500 quad-core processor, a 14 nm Cherry Trail part that features Intel HD graphics (up to 600 MHz) with 12 Execution Units which should help contend with the large 2560x1600 display resolution for GPU-intensive applications.
- 10.1-inch 2560x1600 IPS display
- Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5-Z8500
- 2GB LPDDR3 memory
- 16 GB or 32 GB onboard storage
- MicroSD slot (up to 128 GB)
- Rotating 70” Pico Projector, 50 nits, Digital Focus, Gesture Control
- 4x front-facing speakers, Dolby Atmos 3D Surround Sound
- Rear camera: 13 MP Auto Focus, Front camera: 5MP Auto Focus
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth® 4.0, Optional 4G LTE (select countries)
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
What kind of battery life can we expect? Thanks to a massive 10200 mAh battery the Yoga Pro 3 10” should last up to 18 hours, according to Lenovo. Pricing starts at $499 for the Wi-Fi version and $599 for the LTE model.
Rounding out the lineup are the non-pro YOGA Tab 3 8-inch and 10.1-inch models. These versions retain the Dolby Atmos audio and will be offered in LTE versions, but have considerably lower specs (identical for both other than battery):
- 8-inch 1280x800 IPS display
- Qualcomm Quad-Core 1.3GHz (APQ8009)
- 1 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage
- MicroSD slot (up to 128 GB)
- 8MP AF Rotatable camera
- 2x front-facing large-chamber speakers
- Dolby Atmos 3D Surround Sound
- Lenovo AnyPen Technology
- Bluetooth 4.0, Optional 4G LTE (select countries)
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
Batteries are 6200 mAh for the 8-inch providing up to 20 hours, and 8400 mAh providing up to 18 hours for the 10.1-inch version. The 8-inch version will start at $169 for Wi-Fi only and $199 for LTE, and the 10-inch version will be $199 for Wi-Fi only and $249 for LTE.
Availability for the new YOGA Tab series was not immediately available and will be updated when announced.