Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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Arguably some of the most thoughtful machines on the market are Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPads, which—while sporadically brave in their assertions—are still among the most conservative (yet simultaneously practical) notebooks available.  What makes these notebooks so popular in the business crowds is their longstanding refusal to compromise functionality in the interest of form, as well as their self-proclaimed legendary reliability.  And you could argue that such practical conservatism is what defines a good business notebook: a device which embraces the latest technological trends, but only with requisite caution and consideration.

Maybe it’s the shaky PC market, or maybe it’s the sheer onset of sexy technologies such as touch and clickpads, but recent ThinkPads have begun to show some uncommon progressivism, and unapologetically so, too.  First, it was the complete replacement of the traditional critically-acclaimed ThinkPad keyboard with the Chiclet AccuType variety, a decision which irked purists but eventually was accepted by most.  Along with that were the integrated touchpad buttons, which are still lamented by many users.  Those alterations to the winning design were ultimately relatively minor, however, and for the most part, they’ve now been digested by the community.  Now, though, with the T440s (as well as the rest of Lenovo’s revamped ThinkPad lineup), we’re seeing what will perhaps constitute the most controversial change of all: the substitution of the older touchpads with a “5-button trackpad”, as well as optional touchscreen interface.

Can these changes help to keep the T440s on the cusp of technological progress, or has the design finally crossed the threshold into the realm of counterproductivity?

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Compared with nearly any other modern notebook, these specs might not hold many surprises.  But judged side-by-side with its T430s predecessor, there are some pretty striking differences.  For starters, the T440s is the first in its line to offer only low-voltage CPU options.  While our test unit shipped with the (certainly capable enough) Core i5-4200U—a dual-core processor with up to 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost clock rate—options range up to a Core i7-4600U (up to 3.30 GHz).  Still, these options are admittedly a far cry from the i7-3520M with which top-end T430s machines were equipped.  Of course, it’s also less than half of the TDP, which is likely why the decision was made.  Other notables are the lack of discrete graphics options (previously users has the choice of either integrated graphics or an NVIDIA NVS 5200M) and the maximum supported memory of 12 GB.  And, of course, there’s the touchscreen—which is not required, but rather, is merely an option.  On the other hand, while we’re on the subject of the screen, this is also the first model in the series to offer a 1080p resolution, whether traditional or touch-enabled—which is very much appreciated indeed.

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That’s a pretty significant departure from the design of the T430s, which—as it currently appears—could represent the last T4xxs model that will provide such powerhouse options at the obvious expense of battery life.  Although some markets already have the option of the ThinkPad S440 to fill the Ultrabook void within the ThinkPad 14-inch range, that notebook can even be outfitted with discrete graphics.  The T440s top-end configuration, meanwhile, consists of a 15W TDP dual-core i7 with integrated graphics and 12 GB DDR3 RAM.  In other words, it’s powerful, but it’s just not in the same class as the T430’s components.  What’s more important to you?

Continue reading our review of the ThinkPad T440s!!!

You Got Something? Lenovo's Buying. Google Sells Motorola.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 1, 2014 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, google

Lenovo has a few billion dollars to throw around, apparently. The company, typically known for consumer and enterprise PCs, just finished buying more food off of IBM's plate with the acquisition of their x86 server and mainframe business. That business was not as profitable for IBM compared to their rest of their portfolio. $2.3 billion, mostly in cash, was the better choice for them (albeit a reluctant one).

Another $2.9 billion yields them a lean subset of Motorola.

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Not Google, either.

Lenovo has been wanting a bigger share of the phone and tablet market. Unlike when Google purchased Motorola, Lenovo was not as concerned with owning the patent portfolio. $2.9 billion is a small fraction of $12.5 billion sum that Google valued Motorola at, but Lenovo only wanted about a tenth of the patents. That said, a tenth of the patents is still a couple thousand of them.

For the longest time, I have been thinking that Google was going the wrong route with Motorola. It seemed like any attempt to use the company as a cellphone manufacturer would either bleed money in failure or aggravate your biggest partners. I figured it would be best for Google to pivot Motorola into a research company which would create technologies to license to handset developers. This could be a significant stream of revenue and a love letter to their OEMs while retaining the patents they desired.

I did not think to spin off or sell the rest.

Ironically, that is very close to what we have today. Google, eventually, got rid of the cellphone division except for their licensed "Nexus" trademark. Google kept their patents and they kept the Motorola research team ("Motorola Advanced Technology and Patents Group").

It does not quite line up with my expectation, however; at least not yet. The Motorola research team would need to produce technology to license to partners and maybe other handset manufacturers; also, the time they spent with their toe in handset development bathwater could have already harmed their relationships, irreparably.

As for Lenovo, it seems like a clear win for the company. Motorola still has significant brand power and an open dialog with carriers worldwide at a cost of just a few billion. I do have questions how Lenovo will integrate the brand into their portfolio. Specifically, which company's name will be on each product? I expect it would have to be "Lenovo" but I also believe they have to put the Motorola trademark somewhere, right?

Anyway, who do you predict Lenovo to purchase next? Has the insanity ended?

Source: The Verge

64-bit Android is Down By the Bay

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 21, 2014 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: x86, Intel, Android, 64-bit

Given how long it took Intel to release a good 64-bit architecture, dragged ear-first by AMD, it does seem a little odd for them to lead the tablet charge. ARM developers are still focusing on 32-bit architectures and current Windows 8.1 tablets tend to stick with 32-bit because of Connected Standby bugs. Both of these should be cleared up soon.

Also, 64-bit Android tablets should be available this spring based on Bay Trail.

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According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Android will be first to 64-bit on its x86 build while the ARM variant hovers at 32-bit for a little while longer. It would not surprise me if Intel's software engineers contributed heavily to this development (which is a good thing). I expect NVIDIA to do the same, if necessary, to ensure that Project Denver will launch successfully later this year.

The most interesting part about this is how the PC industry, a symbol of corporate survival of the fittest, typically stomps on siloed competitors but is now facing the ARM industry built on a similar Darwin-based logic. Both embrace openness apart from a few patented instruction sets. Who will win? Well, probably Web Standards, but that is neither here nor there.

Source: Ars Technica

MSI's GX70 & GX60 Destroyer Notebooks with R9-M290X

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 20, 2014 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: msi, gaming laptop

MSI is launching two new laptops, the GX70 Destroyer and the GX60 Destroyer, in their gaming lineup. Both are based on the AMD A10-5750M Richland APU and R9-M290X 2GB discrete graphics. MSI included the fastest AMD mobile graphics processor available which targets just above 30FPS in true 1080p Battlefield 4 on Ultra settings. Of course, this could change to some extent when Mantle appears. They also allow access to the APU's HD8650G graphics portion for power-saving while driving three monitors.

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The main difference between the two is that the GX70 houses a 17.3-inch 1080p screen while the GX60 contains a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Both contain the same processor, both can be configured with up to 16 GB of RAM, and both have the same aforementioned GPUs standard. They both even have BluRay writers for optical media (seemingly standard at that). They also have keyboards designed by SteelSeries and Ethernet ports designed by Qualcomm (Killer / BigFoot).

System Specifications
Model GX70 Destroyer GX60 Destroyer
Operating System Windows 8.1
CPU AMD A10-5750M 3.5GHz
Memory Up to 16GB DDR3-1600 (2 DIMMS)
Graphics AMD R9-M290X 2GB + HD8650G
Display 17.3-inch 1080p LED 15.6-inch 1080p LED
Video Out 1x mini Display-Port, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 1x VGA
I/O
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • 802.11 B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0, Killer LAN
  • SDXC Card Reader
Battery 9-Cell (7800mAH)

Still no word on pricing or availability.

Source: MSI
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Lenovo introduces a unique form factor

Lenovo isn't a company that seems interested in slowing down.  Just when you think the world of notebooks is getting boring, it releases products like the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the Yoga 2 Pro.  Today we are looking at another innovative product from Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10.  While the tablets share the Yoga branding seen in recent convertible notebooks these are NOT Windows-based PCs - something that I fear some consumers might get confused by.  

Instead this tablet pair is based on Android (4.2.2 at this point) which brings with it several advantages.  First, the battery life is impressive, particularly with the 8-in version that clocked in more than 17 hours in our web browsing test!  Second, the form factor of these units is truly unique and not only allows for larger batteries but also a more comfortable in-the-hand feeling than I have had with any other tablet.  

Check out the video overview below!  

You can pick up the 8-in version of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet for just $199 while the 10.1-in model starts at $274.

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The Lenovo Yoga Tablet is available in both 8-in and 10.1-in sizes though the hardware is mostly identical between both units include screen resolution (1280x800) and SoC hardware (MediaTek quad-core Cortex-A7).  The larger model does get an 8000 mAh battery (over the 6000 mAh on the 8-in) but isn't enough to counter balance the power draw of the larger screen.

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The 1280x800 resolution is a bit lower than I would like but is perfectly acceptable on the 8-in version of the Yoga Tablet.  On the 10-in model though the pixels are just too big and image quality suffers.  These are currently running Android 4.2.2 which is fine, but hopefully we'll see some updates from Lenovo to more current Android versions.

Continue reading about the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10 devices!!

Manufacturer: StarTech

Introduction and Design

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We’re always on the hunt for good docking stations, and sometimes it can be difficult to locate one when you aren’t afforded the luxury of a dedicated docking port. Fortunately, with the advent of USB 3.0 and the greatly improved bandwidth that comes along with it, the options have become considerably more robust.

Today, we’ll take a look at StarTech’s USB3SDOCKHDV, more specifically labeled the Universal USB 3.0 Laptop Docking Station - Dual Video HDMI DVI VGA with Audio and Ethernet (whew). This docking station carries an MSRP of $155 (currently selling for $123 on Amazon.com) and is well above other StarTech options (such as the $100 USBVGADOCK2, which offers just one video output—VGA—10/100 Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 ports). In terms of street price, it is currently available at resellers such as Amazon for around $125.

The big selling points of the USB3SDOCKHDV are its addition of three USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet—but most enticingly, its purported ability to provide three total screens simultaneously (including the connected laptop’s LCD) by way of dual HD video output. This video output can be achieved by way of either HDMI + DVI-D or HDMI + VGA combinations (but not by VGA + DVI-D). We’ll be interested to see how well this functionality works, as well as what sort of toll it takes on the CPU of the connected machine.

Continue reading our review of the StarTech USB3SDOCKHDV USB 3.0 Docking Station!!!

CES 2014: Gigabyte Aorus Brand Launches with X7 Slim Gaming Notebook

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: x7, gigabyte, gaming notebook, CES 2014, CES, aorus

An interesting development that popped out of CES this year was the announcement of a new brand from Gigabyte, Aorus, focused on gaming peripherals and a gaming notebook.  The gaming notebook was particularly impressive as it was able to pack in a ton of high-end hardware in an ultra-slim design that should rival the likes of MSI and Razer.  

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The Aorus X7 weighs in at 6.4 pounds and just 0.9 inches think but is powered by an Intel Haswell 4th Generation processor and a pair of GTX 765M GPUs running in SLI.  Storage options include a pair of mSATA ports for RAID-0 and a 2.5in hard drive (up to 1TB).  

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For connectivity the X7 includes USB 3.0 x3, USB 2.0 x2, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort,  and an SD card reader.  Four SODIMM memory slots allow for upgrades up to 32GB.  For a slim gaming machine and an estimated 3DMark score of P7393, the X7 looks damned enticing. 

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The Aorus X7 will be available this month at Newegg.com and should be priced starting at around $1500.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: ARM and Huawei Show First True 8-Core Smartphone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, arm, Huawei, mediatek, 8 core

While clearly the need for an 8-core smartphone is still a debate, the enablement of hardware partners like Huawei, Mediatek and ARM are creating an ecosystem that enables the software developer to stretch their legs and innovate.  While wandering around CES we ran into the Huawei G750 smartphone, the first to be powered by a true 8-core (octa-core) processor.

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This phone likely isn't going to find its way to the US market but the design was solid and the user interface, as you would expect, was snappy and smooth.  This processor from Mediatek, the MT6592, has the ability to run all 8 Cortex-A7 cores at the same time when the needs arise.  Rather than go with the big.LITTLE design route Mediatek instead include 8 of the "little" cores in this design.

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Each core is capable of clocking in at 2.0 GHz (though this Huawei model seems to cap at 1.7 GHz) and MediaTek claims that this allows support for 4K high bit-rate H.264 video playback as well as H.265 and VP9 playback.  

The concern of a "core race" in the mobile market is definitely real though you have to be impressed by the drive for hardware vendors to improve capabilities.  Now we just need to be sure that the software ecosystem and the power management designs are keeping up.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: Corsair Flash Voyager GO is On-The-Go (OTG)

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: OTG, On-The-Go, Flash Voyager GO, corsair, CES 2014, CES

So this makes sense, finally. USB On-The-Go is a specification which allows for devices to perform as either a USB Host or a USB Slave at will. In other words, your can plug your phone into your PC via its MicroUSB 3.0 (Update: It looks like I'm wrong and it's Micro USB 2.0) connection to synchronize files and charge it and then, later, have that same port accept USB thumb drives. Of course, that requires a USB storage device with a MicroUSB 3.0 2.0 plug.

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The Corsair Flash Voyager GO USB OTG is one such thumb drive. It has the ability to plug into MicroUSB 3.0 2.0 ports on Android OTG-compatible phones and tablets. For convenience, it also has the ability to plug into full-sized USB 3.0 making it useful for both phone and laptop or desktop. USB 2.0 is also supported. It registers as a standard USB Mass Storage Device so no special software is required for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux.

I find this very interesting albeit I am not a mobile user. I do wonder when we will see large capacity harddrives using this standard. It seems like a natural progression as demand for phones with video-out increases. Flash memory is nice but, when compared to microSD cards which are not vulnerable and hanging out of the USB port, I am not sure if there is enough capacity. Again, I am not a mobile user. I know that someone out there already has their credit card out.

The Flash Voyager GO will be available in 16 GB ($19.99 USD), 32 GB ($29.99 USD), and 64 GB ($49.99 USD) variants. It is rated to transfer at up to 135 MB/s over USB 3.0.

Press release after the break.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Corsair

CES 2014: Asus Announces the PadFone X (AT&T Exclusive) and PadFone mini for US

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 08:29 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, PadFone Mini, padfone, LTE Advanced, HD Voice, CES 2014, CES, Carrier Aggregation, atom z2580, asus, Android

Asus’ PadFone is a cool idea that’s never yet made it stateside—but that’s all about to change with the advent of the PadFone X, which will be headed exclusively to AT&T at some point in the future (TBA).  The PadFone was a concept first introduced in 2011 that involves a smartphone which docks with a larger tablet for seamless transition between screen sizes.  Everything is also constantly and instantly synced between the two gadgets via independent Wi-Fi and cellular data connections without the need to manually invoke synchronization.  Any applications which are currently running on either device will automatically resize to fit the other screen when the PadFone is docked or undocked.

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It’s a really clever design that we’re happy to see is coming to the US.  Pricing and detailed specifications are still up in the air, but here’s what we do know about it:

  • 5-inch 1080p screen
  • Docks with a 9-inch 1080p companion tablet station
  • Brushed metal frame with soft-touch back cover
  • Dual front speakers

A “large” battery in the companion tablet station also allows for charging of the 5-inch PadFone when docked, providing “2 times longer” battery life.

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The PadFone X supports a couple of new technologies on AT&T’s network as well to help improve voice quality:

  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE): This is a new technology which allows for much better quality voice transmission using a codec referred to as HD Voice (technically called Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband).
  • Carrier Aggregation: A part of LTE Advanced, this allows for the grouping of up to five separate 20 MHz bands to produce up to a maximum aggregated bandwidth of 100 MHz.  Essentially, it translates to better voice quality for the PadFone X.

More details about the PadFone X will be announced soon.

In the meantime, Asus also unveiled the PadFone mini, which is not tethered to any particular carrier.  It’s essentially a more basic version of the PadFone X, and judging by the screen resolution alone (800x480 for the phone and 1280x800 for the tablet), it’s clear that it’s intended more for the mainstream market than tech enthusiasts.

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The full specs are as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Atom Z2560 processor
  • RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
  • Storage: 8 GB internal w/ Micro SD slot for expansion
  • Screen:
    • Phone: 800x480 IPS
    • Station: 1280x800 IPS
  • Camera: 8 MP rear camera (f/2.0) and 2 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery:
    • Phone: 4.5Wh, 1170mAh, non-removable polymer battery
    • Station: 8.3Wh, 2100mAh, non-removable polymer battery
  • Weight/Dimensions:
    • Phone: 116g; 124.42 (L) x 61.44 (W) x 6.3-11.2 (H) mm
    • Station: 260g; 199.85 (L) x 119.43 (W) x 13.91 (H) mm
  • Five color choices: Black, White, Red, Blue, and Yellow
  • Dual-SIM support
  • New ZenUI interface layered atop Android OS, which provides new apps, visual tweaks, and some useful extras.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more on both devices as it’s announced!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus