Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 13, 2013 - 03:16 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: w3c, Sauce Labs, modern.IE, IE
The main benefit of open Web Standards is that it allows for a stable and secure platform for any developer to target just about any platform. Still, due to the laws of No Pain: No Gain, those developers need to consider how their application responds on just about every platform. Internet Explorer was once the outlier, and now they are one of the most prominent evangelists. It has been barely two months since we reported on the launch of modern.IE for Microsoft to integrate existing solutions into their product.
Enter Sauce Labs. The San Francisco-based company made a name for themselves by providing testing environments for developers on a spread of browsers across Android, iOS, Linux, MacOSX, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows XP. The company, along with competitor BrowserStack, got recent recognition from Adobe when the software company shut down their own also-competing product.
When we first covered modern.IE back in February (again, here), the initiative from Microsoft was created to help test web apps across multiple versions of Internet Explorer and check for typical incompatibilities. With the addition of Sauce Labs, Microsoft hopes to provide better testing infrastructure as well as automatic recommendations for common issues encountered when trying to develop for both "modern" and legacy versions of their web browser.
In my position, this perfectly highlights the problems with believing you are better than open architectures. At some point, your platform will no longer be able to compete on inertia. Society really does not want to rely on a single entity for anything. It is almost a guarantee that a standard, agreed-upon by several industry members, will end up succeeding in the end. Had Microsoft initially supported the W3C, they would not have experienced even a fraction of the troubles they currently face. They struggle in their attempts to comply with standards and, more importantly, push developers to optimize for their implementation.
There are very good reasons to explain why we do not use AOL keywords anymore. Hopefully the collective Microsoft keeps this grief in mind, particularly the Xbox and Windows RT teams and their divisions.
After the break: the press release.
Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 05:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, jelly bean, galaxy s4, exynos octa, android 4.2.2
Samsung recently launched its new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, and users will be able to pre-order it from several US carriers later this month.
AT&T customers will be able to pre-order the 16GB Galaxy S4 for $199.99 and 32GB model for $249.99 beginning April 16. Those prices are contingent on a two-year contract. US Cellular will also be carrying the new flagship smartphone, but has not announced how much it will cost. Customers can register to be notified when it becomes available, however. T-Mobile is also going to offer the Samsung Galaxy S4, but customers will need to pay full price. According to UK mobile site Phones Review, T-Mobile will offer the smartphone on its new no-contract plans for $99 plus a $20 per month fee until it is paid off starting May 1. Regrettably, there is no word on when (or whether) a Verizon or Sprint-comparable model will show up.
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers up the following specifications. On the outside, the phone features a 5” Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. A 2MP webcam and 12MP auto-focus camera with LED flash are also included. The internals of the phone are also impressive, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD cards). The 2,600 mAh battery seems a bit weak compared to the one in the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but space constraints likely limited the battery size despite the beefier processor and higher-resolution display. Sensors and I/O include accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, and gesture. Wireless radios include a cellular modem (4G LTE, 3G HSDPA), A-GPS+GLONASS, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Qualcomm 600 SoC consists of a quad core Krait 300 processor clocked at 1.9GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU.
Note that the US version does not use the higher-performance Samsung Exynos 5 Octa SoC. For reference, the international model's SoC has the following features:
The Exynos 5 Octa consists of a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU and both a quad core Cortex A15 clocked at 1.6GHz and a 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor with four cores. The two ARM processors are configured in big.LITTLE configuration, so technically it is still a quad core phone--but the lower-power Cortex A7 cores will be used for background tasks and/or to save power while shutting down the Cortex A15 cores when CPU load allows.
The Galaxy S4 will come in White Frost or Black Mist colors. It is an impressive phone and one that I’m considering for my next upgrade pending good reviews. Another good consequence of the S4 launching is price reductions for the Galaxy S3, which may be an option if you don’t have impending upgrade pricing and can’t justify paying the approximate $600 full price of the S4--but still want a new Android phone.
Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 12:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wevideo, video editor, Android
An online video editing company called WeVideo recently added an Android app to its services. The new WeVideo Android application allows users to capture, edit, and share videos taken by a number of Android 4.2 smartphones and tablets.
Video that has been captured by your phone can be edited, trimmed, stylized, saved to the phone, and published to Youtube, Vimeo, and the company’s own WeVideo site. The video editor also syncs with the WeVideo browser editor and will allow you to capture video on your phone and then edit it on other computers in the online editor. Once published, the app also gives you the option to post a link to Facebook and Twitter that leads to the video.
You can select multiple clips and arrange them on a timeline. The clips can be trimmed and volume can be adjusted. Once on the timeline, you can apply automated styles that include background music, transitions, filters, titles, and effects.
According to WeVideo, the Android video editor is compatible with the following devices:
- Samsung Galaxy S4 (upcoming phone)
- HTC One (upcoming phone)
- Samsung Galaxy S III
- Samsung Galaxy Note
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- Google Nexus
- Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD
- HTC Droid DN
- Sony Xperia S
- Sony Xperia Z
The app is a free download from the Google Play store (which recently got a facelift).
You can grab it here.
Overall, it seems to have good reviews, but it does have its share of 1-star reviews as well (as pretty much every app does heh). If you have been looking for an Android-equivalent to iMovie this might be a good option -- especially since it’s free.
Subject: Mobile | April 11, 2013 - 11:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, galaxy mega, galaxy, android 4.2
Samsung recently officially unveiled its new line of Galaxy Mega smartphones. The new phones (there are currently two on tap) run Android 4.2 and feature relatively gigantic screen sizes. As rumors suggested, and likely in order to keep costs down, the Galaxy Mega phones come without a stylus (like the Note series). Also, the displays are lower resolution than the flagship Galaxy S 4’s 1080p display.
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Galaxy Mega 5.8. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 measures 167.6 x 88 x 8mm and weighs 199 grams. On the outside, the smartphone features a black glossy finish, a 6.3” 720p display, an 1.9MP front-facing camera above the display, and an 8MP rear camera. The phone is powered by a 1.7GHz dual core ARM SoC, 1.5GB of RAM, and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage (which can be expanded via microSD cards). Further, it has a 3,200 mAh battery.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 includes accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Poximity, and Gyroscopic sensors. It is compatible with LTE 100/50Mbps, and HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks. A Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (supporting Wi-Fi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS/GLONASS, and NFC radios round out the smartphone’s wireless connectivity options. The phone also features USB 2.0 and MHL support for getting an HDMI output via a powered adapter.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 drops down in physical size and weight to 162.6 x 82.4 x 9mm and 182 grams respectively. The phone also drops MHL, NFC, and 802.11ac support. The Galaxy Mega 5.8 has a white glossy finish surrounding a 5.8” TFT touchscreen display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A 1.9MP camera serves video calling duties while the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera for taking higher-quality stills and video.
The smaller (but still huge) Galaxy Mega 5.8
Internal hardware includes a dual core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Wireless connectivity includes a cellular modem compatible with HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS+GLONASS. There is no 16GB SKU, but storage space can be expanded via microSD cards.
Samsung has not released pricing information, but the two new Galaxy Mega phones will be available globally. Europe and Russia will be the first countries to get the new smartphone, which will be in May. From there, the phones will gradually roll out to other markets. Users can expect the hardware to cost less than both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 as the Mega has lower-cost hardware despite the physically larger display. If you just want a large display without paying for the extra horsepower of other flagship smartphones, the Mega series should be a decent option. I would estimate AT&T will sell them for around the $150 mark on contract when they do make a US appearance.
More information along with photos of the new mega-sized Galaxy Mega phones can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 10:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android
Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.
Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.
Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.
From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.
Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 08:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580
The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.
Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.
On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:
- GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
- DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
- Bluetooth 3.0 LE
- GPS (AGPS)
It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).
What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | April 7, 2013 - 10:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: DirectX, DirectX 12
Microsoft DirectX is a series of interfaces for programmers to utilize typically when designing gaming or entertainment applications. Over time it became synonymous with Direct3D, the portion which mostly handles graphics processing by offloading those tasks to the video card. At one point, DirectX even handled networking through DirectPlay although that has been handled by Games for Windows Live or other APIs since Vista.
AMD Corporate Vice President Roy Taylor was recently interviewed by the German press, "c't magazin". When asked about the future of "Never Settle" bundles, Taylor claimed that games such as Crysis 3 and Bioshock: Infinite keep their consumers happy and also keep the industry innovating.
Keep in mind, the article was translated from German so I might not be entirely accurate with my understanding of his argument.
In a slight tangent, he discussed how new versions of DirectX tends to spur demand for new graphics processors with more processing power and more RAM. He has not heard anything about DirectX 12 and, in fact, he does not believe there will be one. As such, he is turning to bundled games to keep the industry moving forward.
Neowin, upon seeing this interview, reached out to Microsoft who committed to future "innovation with DirectX".
This exchange has obviously sparked a lot of... polarized... online discussion. One claimed that Microsoft is abandoning the PC to gain a foothold in the mobile market which it has practically zero share of. That is why they are dropping DirectX.
Unfortunately this does not make sense: DirectX would be one of the main advantages which Microsoft has in the mobile market. Mobile devices have access to fairly decent GPUs which can use DirectX to draw web pages and applications much smoother and much more power efficiently than their CPU counterparts. If anything, DirectX would be increased in relevance if Microsoft was blindly making a play for mobile.
The major threat to DirectX is still quite off in the horizon. At some point we might begin to see C++Amp or OpenCL nibble away at what DirectX does best: offload highly-parallel tasks to specialized processing units.
Still, releases such as DirectX 11.1 are quite focused on back-end tweaks and adjustments. What do you think a DirectX 12 API would even do, that would not already be possible with DirectX 11?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 6, 2013 - 05:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webkit, Blink, Android, Google Chrome, ChromeOS
There once was a web browser named Konqueror which was quite common in the Linux community. At its core was the KHTML rendering engine, a nice standards-compliant layout package; KHTML was so nice that Apple decided to create WebKit based on it. Since then, WebKit has been the basis of Google Chrome and other applications such as Steam as of a few years ago.
And even though the project maybe never be done, Google stuck a fork in it.
Blink is a new layout engine, based on WebKit, soon to be implemented in Google Chrome. By soon, I mean practically the next release. It stands to reason, too: a forked project by definition starts out looking nearly identical because they both start from the same point. The two projects will be able to evolve in different directions as each begin to differ in needs and desires.
So what does it mean? Firstly, web developers do not need to worry about a new vendor-prefix until at least Google starts to worry about one. According to their above Q&A, they currently seem more interested in reducing prefix support rather than adding new ones. Personally, I expect that at some point they will likely need to add some as standards evolve.
In terms of the future: I feel that multiple rendering engines will only be better for the future of the web. Sure, it can be difficult for web developers to test their products across a variety of devices but that is a drop in the bucket compared to the misery caused when a dominant player gets complacent. A noncompeting player will stop innovating and maybe pull away from open standards.
Then again this pretty much always happens: no-one is satisfied with monopolies. Thankfully the WebKit license made it easy for dissatisfied parties to take action. In turn, WebKit can benefit from many of these developments at their leisure, particularly before their products look too dissimilar.
Subject: Mobile | April 4, 2013 - 04:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Cyberpower, Fangbook X7-200, gaming laptop
If you are one of the few with the money and desire for a gaming laptop you have probably looked at CyberPower as a supplier in the past. They recently updated their Fangbook series and Legit Reviews got a look at the X7-200 model, with a Core i7-3630QM, GeForce GTX 675MX, 16GB of DDR3-1600 and a 60GB Intel 520 SSD for your OS backed up by a WD Scorpio Black 750GB for storage. Thankfully they chose a 1920x1080 panel for this 17.3" screen as 1366 would not live up to the components inside. There are quite a few other extras in this laptop, up to and including a KillerNIC; read the full review for the entire list.
"The fine folks at Cyberpower PC have sent us over one of their latest creations, and truth be told, I'm looking forward to this one! What we have today is the Cyberpower Fangbook X7-200 gaming notebook. The entire Fangbook series features a massive 17.3" screen (1920x1080 HD LED-Backlit), Intel Core i7-3630QM quad-core processors (to start), and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX and GTX 680M graphics. To say that these things are beasts doesn't do them justice. The Fangbook has the different versions to it, each with slightly different specifications and price points. The Fangbook X7-200 that we have in our hands today starts out at $1549..."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire S7 @ The Inquirer
- Dell Latitude E6430s vs Latitude E6430u: classic vs Ultrabook @ Hardware.info
- Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS VivoBook S500CA Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo ThinkPad W530 @ Hardware.info
- Cyberpower PC Fangbook X7-200 Gaming Notebook Review @ Ninjalane
- Toshiba Satellite U845T-S4165 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Samsung Series 9 13.3-inch Ultrabook @ Hardware.info
- Mobile GPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- LG Optimus L9 Smartphone @ Tweaktown
- Sony Xperia TX Smartphone @ Tweaktown
- 3DMark for Android review: which mobile GPU is the fastest @ Hardware.info
- Seidio Surface for Nexus 4 @ LanOC Reviews
- Dell XPS 10 review: Windows RT according to Dell @ Hardware.info
- 3DMark for Android: Tested on Several Popular Android Devices @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte S1082 Windows 8 Slate Tablet @ Modders-Inc
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Oyen Digital
Oyen Digital, a popular manufacturer of portable storage enclosures and devices, provided us with its MiniPro™ eSATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure for testing USB 3.0 enhanced mode on the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard. This enclosure offers support for USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA ports in conjunction with a 2.5" hard drive. We put this enclosure on the test bench with the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe board to test the performance limits of the device. The MiniPro™ enclosure can be found at your favorite e-tailer for $39.95.
The MiniPro™ SATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure is a simple aluminum enclosure supporting any 2.5" form factor hard drive up to SATA III speeds. The enclosure itself supports USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA connections. Because of its use of the ASMedia 1053e chipset for USB 3.0 support, the enclosure supports both USB 3.0 normal mode transfer speeds and UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode transfer speeds. UASP mode is a method of bulk transfer for USB 3.0 connections that increases transfer speeds through the use of parallel simultaneous packet transfers. Per our sources at ASUS, UASP can be explained as follows:
The adoption of the SCSI Protocol in USB 3.0 provides its users with the advantage of having better data throughput than traditional BOT (Bulk-Only Transfer) protocol, all thanks to its streaming architecture as well as the improved queuing (NCQ support) and task management, which eliminated much of the round trip time between USB commands, so more commands can be sent simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to the multi-tasking aware architecture, the performance is further enhanced when multiple transfers occur.
The downside of UASP is that the receiving device (Flash drive/external hard drive etc) must also be UASP enabled for the protocol to work. This requires checking your peripherals before purchase. However since UASP is an industry standard, the device support for ASUS UASP implementation is not restricted to a particular controller manufacturer or device type, so the overall number of peripherals available should undoubtedly grow.
Technical Specifications (taken from the Oyen Digital website)
eSATA 6G (Up to 6.0 Gbps)
USB 3.0: (Up to 5.0 Gbps)
|SATA III (up to 15mm SATA 2.5" HDD/SSD)|
|Windows XP/Vista/7/8 & above; MAC OS 10.2 & above; Linux 2.4.22 & above|