Leaked Screenshots Reveal New Features in BlackBerry OS 10.2.0.483

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 05:39 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi direct, evernote, blackberry, BB10.2, BB10

BlackBerry, the company formerly known as RIM, is continuing to work on improving its BB 10 mobile operating system. In fact, version 10.2 adds a number of relatively minor, but rather useful, new features.

Leaked screenshots of a development build show that BlackBerry has added Wi-Fi Direct support, for example. Wi-Fi direct operates like the legacy ad-hoc mode in that it does not require a wireless access point. It allows devices to form a wireless link directly, and this wireless link can be in addition to the BlackBerry 10-powered phone's traditional infrastructure mode Wi-Fi connection between it and your home router. File sharing and printing are the main use cases for this technology.

BlackBerry 10.2 OS adds Wi-Fi Direct.png

The new build also includes a native Evernote application, a tweaked settings panel with an App Manager option to kill unruly apps, and the ability to add subscribed-to calendars to the BlackBerry Hub.

BlackBerry 10 OS Evernote App.png

Finally, the leaked screenshots revealed what could be the best new feature in that build 10.2.0.483 adds so-called actionable notifications. This functionality allows you to respond to BBMs or other notifications from the notification itself, and without having to switch to the app. These quick-reply notifications are bound to be very useful!

BlackBerry 10 OSQuck Reply Actionable Notifications.png

My first smartphone was a BB device (Bold 9000), and while I have since moved into the land of Android devices (with a quick stop at Maemo), BB10 looks interesting and is something that I've been watching since its release. I hope that BlackBerry is able to pull it together and move forward with new devices and its latest mobile OS attempt.

For more juicy BlackBerry 10 details, keep an eye on the BB 10.2 leaked screenshot thread over at CrackBerry Forums!

BlackBerry Reports $84 Million Operating Loss In First Fiscal Quarter 2014

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 2, 2013 - 03:22 AM |
Tagged: RIM, financial results, blackberry, BES10, BB10

BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) recently posted its financial report detailing performance in the first fiscal quarter 2014. Unfortunately, it did not perform nearly as well as investors hoped. BlackBerry experienced increases in quarterly revenue and units shipped, but it still ended up with a hefty operating loss.

Specifically, at the end of fiscal Q1 2014, BlackBerry reported revenue of $3.1 billion with 6.8 million devices shipped and an operating loss of $84 million. The $3.1 billion in revenue is a 15% increase versus the previous quarter ($2.9 billion) and a 9% increase YoY (year over year). Despite the operating loss (which is actually an improvement over the $518 million operating loss in the previous year), BlackBerry still managed to ship 6.8 million units, which is 13% increase versus the previous quarter. BlackBerry did not detail how many of those devices where BB10 devices, but it is estimated to be 2.7 million of the 6.8 million devices shippped versus 1 million BB10 devices shipped in the previous quarter. At least BB10 is gaining some small amount of traction. Among those BlackBerry devices shipped in Q1'14, the company did state that it shipped 100,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

Speaking of the PlayBook, the company had to break its promise to users with the statement that it would not be providing an update for the tablets to its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. The reason given was that the company ran into performance issued on the PlayBook hardware when attempting to get BB10 running, and because they were not able to get it running smoothly they are not giong to release any update after all.

Needless to say, investors where not pleased with the performance of the company or of BlackBerry 10 which (despite being an interesting mobile OS) has not caught on like many had hoped. Instead, the BlackBerry OS is reported to occupy fourth place in the market behind Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone. BlackBerry's stock price dropped as much as 26% following the release of the financial report, according to GSMArena.

According to the company, the following quarter will see improvements, but it will still be operating at a loss. BlackBerry will continue to forge ahead with BlackBerry 10 OS and the accompanying hardware. The company will further development of BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) 10, and a cross-platform version of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) social messaging client. Handsets are going to be the focus with no new tablets. Finally, BlackBerry is going to continue focusing on cost cutting and company streamlining efforts to reduce overhead and other expenses.

The full financial report is available here on the BlackBerry website.

It is not all bad news. BlackBerry still has a fighting chance and I hope they can turn things around and make the new BlackBerry a success. What do you think about BlackBerry's performance so far this year/ Have you seen any BB devices being used instead of the typical iPhone or Android handset?

Source: BlackBerry

Microsoft Surface Pro With 256GB SSD Now Available For $1,199.99

Subject: Mobile | July 1, 2013 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 8 tablet, windows 8, Surface Pro, microsoft, 256GB

A recent product listing at CDW indicates that Microsoft is adding a new Surface Pro tablet SKU to its existing lineup of 10.6" tablets. The new SKU ups the storage ante to a 256GB solid state drive.

The Surface Pro tablet is otherwise identical to the existing Surface Pros, however. Specifications include an Intel Core i5 3317U processor with HD 4000 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 10.6" 1080p display wrapped in a magnesium chassis.

The 256GB model continues to run Windows 8 Pro, which means that users will have a bit more than 200GB to play around with after Windows, Office, and a few apps are installed.

The 256GB Surface Pro will cost $1,199.99, which means that the extra 128GB of storage comes at a $200 premium over the existing 128GB Surface Pro ($999.99).

Personally I find the Surface Pro to be too expensive for my taste, especially when $1,200 does not even get me a physical keyboard. I would rather grab one of those Windows 8 convertible tablets I've covered recently. On the other hand, if you are using the Surface Pro for business and you need as much built-in storage as possible, at least the new Surface Pro SKU with 256GB SSD is an option now.

Source: CDW

A Humble Bundle for those on the go

Subject: Mobile | June 28, 2013 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, humble bundle

If you are unaware of the Humble Bundle then you have really let yourself down as a gamer, while you won't find AAA titles in the bundles you will find a wide variety of quality games at a price you get to choose.  The latest bundle that was assembled comes with support for a new platform to the bundle, Android 6.  Overclockers Club are not totally in love with the games offered in this bundle but with the extra games available for those tossing in about $5.00 or more you still get a great value and support charity as well.  Check out their overview of the bundle, or just head straight to the Bundle page and pick up a selection of cross-platform games.

9db3e418ee9072aa513627d9a498b7606b5277ab.png

"Overall the Humble Bundle with Android 6 is not the strongest bundle we have seen, but certainly has its strengths. It is hard to see why you would not want to get at least the base games, while the two BTA titles may only be worth the few dollars more to a smaller group of you. No matter how you look at it though, the bundle is a great deal and even if it had only one strong title, it would be a great deal. If additional BTA titles are added at the halfway point, as typically happens, the bundle will only get better."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Internet Explorer 11 is for Windows 7, Too!

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 28, 2013 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: BUILD, BUILD 2013, internet explorer, IE11, Windows 7

Windows 8.1 will be bundled with Microsoft's latest web browser, Internet Explorer 11. The line of browsers, starting with Internet Explorer 9, are very competent offerings which approach and eclipse many competitors. Microsoft has made some errors since then, breaking standards for personal gain, but their recent efforts in supporting W3C – and even arch-nemesis Khronos – displays genuine good faith.

ie10-dev.png

HTML5 Developer Tools rivalling even Mozilla and Google

But Windows XP never surpassed Internet Explorer 8, and apart from glitch and vulnerability fixes, Windows 7 is in almost exactly the same state as the day Windows 8 shipped. Internet Explorer 10 made it to the platform, late and reluctantly, along with severely neutered back-ports of Windows 8 DirectX enhancements. The platform update was welcome, but lacks the importance of a full service pack.

More importantly, the hesitation to bring IE10 to Windows 7 suggested that it would be the last first-party web browser the platform would see.

Not true, apparently. During their Build conference, Engadget claims to have spoke with a Microsoft representative who confirmed Windows 7 will receive the latest Internet Explorer. This is good news for every user of IE and every web designer with a cool WebGL implementation but is held back by browser market share concerns.

Honestly, my main concern is with the future of Internet Explorer, 12 and beyond. I am encouraged by the recent effort by Microsoft, but with Windows RT demanding for every browser to be built atop Internet Explorer, it better keep up or we are screwed. The web browser might be our operating system in the near future, applications should not be held back by the least of all possible platforms – be it Internet Explorer, Webkit, or any other dominant browser.

Of course, I should note that Engadget was not being specific with their source, so some grain of salts would be wise until it ships.

Source: Engadget

Samsung Reveals Two New Windows 8 ATIV Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, Samsung, office 2013, haswell, atom z2760, ativ tab 3, ativ q, ativ, android 4.2.2

Late last week, Samsung announced new hardware at an event in London. Among the products shown off, Samsung unveiled the 10.1" ATIV Tab 3 and the 13.3" ATIV Q Convertible notebook. Both machines are x86-64 and run the full version of Windows 8.

Samsung ATIV Q

The ATIV Q is the premium device, with Intel's latest Haswell processor, a high resolution display on a unique sliding hinge design, and a thin ultra-portable form factor. The 13" convertible notebook is 14mm thick and weighs about 2.8 pounds. The system features an impressive 13" touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 (275 PPI) and 178-degree viewing angles.

The ATIV Q has a unique sliding hinge design that allows the display to lay flat in slate tablet mode, held above the keyboard parallel to the keyboard, and in laptop mode with the display snapped to the top of the keyboard and at an angle. The display further supports the company's S-Pen stylus. In order to maintain the 14mm thick figure, Samsung has packed the processor and some of the other internals into the display hinge rather than the traditional placement in the laptop's base (under the keyboard). The hinge also hosts USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports. Here's hoping the build quality is good and the hinge is sturdy as having the internals packed into the hinge is a risky proposition.

Other IO (located around the laptop's base) includes USB, power, and Ethernet jacks. Note that the ATIV Q does not have a touch pad. Users will need to use the eraser point or the touchscreen to navigate.

Samsung ATIV Q Convertible Tablet.jpg

Internally, the ATIV Q features an Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a battery that is reportedly capable of delivery 9 hours of normal usage. The integrated HD 4400 graphics will not get you much, but it is just barely enough to run older games at around 30 FPS at 1280 x 1024 and reduced quality settings according to reviews of systems with similar specs around the net.

On the software side of things, the ATIV Q runs the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Samsung is also bundling the PC with a virtualized installation of Android 4.2.2 that runs on top of -- and can share files with -- Windows 8. Users can access and run traditional Windows applications, Windows 8 (Metro/Modern UI/Whatever It is Called This Week) apps, and applications from the Google Play store. The WIndows 8 and Android OSes further share folders such that files can be shared between them. Application shortcuts for the Android apps can also reportedly be linked to from the Windows 8 Start Screen.

ATIV Tab 3

The ATIV Tab 3 was also announced at the Samsung event in London. This device is a 10.1" tablet measuring 8.2mm thick and weighing 550g (approximately 1.21 lbs). It is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The 10.1" display has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Samsung is reportedly including a battery rated at 10 hours of usage. The system supports microSD cards for expansion, which is good because there is not going to be much storage space left for user-space files after the OS and bundled programs.

Samsung ATIV Tab 3 Atom Z2760 SoC.jpg

The ATIV Tab 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8 and the full version of Microsoft Office 2013.

Pricing and availability for the two new ATIV tablets has not yet been announced. The Q is a tablet to watch out of for though. So long as the build quality is there, I think it will be popular with those fans of convertible notebooks (of which I am one).

Source: Ars Technica
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

P6052455_0.jpg

As headlines mount championing the supposed shift toward tablets for the average consumer, PC manufacturers continue to devise clever hybrid solutions to try and lure those who are on the fence toward more traditional machines.  Along with last year’s IdeaPad Yoga 13 and ThinkPad Twist, Lenovo shortly thereafter launched the smallest of the bunch, an 11.6” convertible tablet PC with a 5-point touch 720p IPS display.

Unlike its newer, more powerful counterpart, the Yoga 11S, it runs Windows RT and features an NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core system on a chip (SoC).  There are pros and cons to this configuration in contrast to the 11S.  For starters, the lower-voltage, fanless design of the 11 guarantees superior battery life (something which we’ll cover in detail in just a bit).  It’s also consequently (slightly) smaller and lighter than the 11S, which gains a hair on height and weighs around a quarter pound more.  But, as you’re probably aware, Windows RT also doesn’t qualify as a fully-functional version of Windows—and, in fact, the Yoga 11’s versatility is constrained by the relatively meager selection of apps available on the Windows Store.  The other obvious difference is architecture and chipset, where the Yoga 11’s phone- and tablet-grade ARM-based NVIDIA Tegra 3 is replaced on the 11S by Intel Core Ivy Bridge ULV processors.

But let’s forget about that for a moment.  What it all boils down to is that these two machines, while similar in terms of design, are different enough (both in terms of specs and price) to warrant a choice between them based on your intended use.  The IdeaPad Yoga 11 configuration we reviewed can currently be found for around $570 at retailers such as Amazon and Newegg.  In terms of its innards:

specs_0.png

If it looks an awful lot like the specs of your latest smartphone, that’s probably because it is.  The Yoga 11 banks on the fact that such ARM-based SoCs have become powerful enough to run a modern personal computer comfortably—and by combining the strengths of an efficient, low-power chipset with the body of a notebook, it reaps benefits from both categories.  Of course, there are trade-offs involved, starting with the 2 GB memory ceiling of the chipset and extending to the aforementioned limitations of Windows RT.  So the ultimate question is, once those trade-offs are considered, is the Yoga 11 still worth the investment?

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Tegra 3 notebook!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Apple

Overview

Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.

IMG_0095.JPG

Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.

While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.

Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.

IMG_0061.JPG

In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.

From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that  Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.

Continue reading our review of the MacBook Air 11" (2013)!!

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Kepler-based Mobile GPUs

Late last month, just before the tech world blew up from the mess that is Computex, NVIDIA announced a new line of mobility discrete graphics parts under the GTX 700M series label.  At the time we simply posted some news and specifications about the new products but left performance evaluation for a later time.  Today we have that for the highest end offering, the GeForce GTX 780M. 

As with most mobility GPU releases it seems, the GTX 700M series is not really a new GPU and only offers cursory feature improvements.  Based completely on the Kepler line of parts, the GTX 700M will range from 1536 CUDA cores on the GTX 780M to 768 cores on the GTX 760M. 

slide2.jpg

The flagship GTX 780M is essentially a desktop GTX 680 card in a mobile form factor with lower clock speeds.  With 1536 CUDA cores running at 823 MHz and boosting to higher speeds depending on the notebook configuration, a 256-bit memory controller running at 5 GHz, the GTX 780M will likely be the fastest mobile GPU you can buy.  (And we’ll be testing that in the coming pages.) 

The GTX 760M, 765M and 770M offering ranges of performance that scale down to 768 cores at 657 MHz.  NVIDIA claims we’ll see the GTX 760M in systems as small as 14-in and below with weights at 2kg or so from vendors like MSI and Acer.  For Ultrabooks and thinner machines you’ll have to step down to smaller, less power hungry GPUs like the GT 750 and 740 but even then we expect NVIDIA to have much faster gaming performance than the Haswell-based processor graphics.

Continue reading our performance review of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M mobility GPU!!

MSI Ships GE40, the New Standard in High Performance Portable Gaming

Subject: Mobile | June 13, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: msi, ge40

City of Industry, Calif. – June 13, 2012 – MSI Computer Corp, leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the availability of the GE40, the perfect combination of ultrabook portability and deadly gaming capability.

GE40-Photo_01.jpg

Armed with state of the art components, including an Intel® Haswell Core i7 processor and NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760M, the GE40 weighs only 4.4 lbs. and measures less than 1-inch thick, making it the ideal choice for gamers seeking superior performance and mobility.

The GE40 takes full advantage of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 760M performance by adding a Matrix display that allows users to output to 3 displays simultaneously (including the native notebook display). To complement the GE40’s superior graphics, MSI incorporated Sound Blaster Cinema and Audio Boost, two technologies that deliver amazing surround sound with realistic and immersive sound clarity.

“The GE40 was designed for mobile gamers seeking the best in gaming performance but not wanting to carry around larger laptops,” said Andy Tung, vice president of sales for MSI US. “Even though the GE40 is exceptionally light and nimble, it is still packed with high-performance components worthy of a desktop replacement unit.”

The GE40 comes in a full aluminum body featuring a psychedelic dragon eye backlit design and is available in two configurations: 750GB HDD or 125GB mSATA SSD plus a 750GB HDD for increased performance. It also comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory, Giga LAN adaptor and 2 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0 ports.

To celebrate the launch of the GE40, MSI is holding the “Just Game!” Giveaway through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MSI.ComputerUS. Participants will have the opportunity to win over $4000 in prizes, including a completely new MSI GE40 valued at $1,399.99. For more information about MSI’s complete lineup of gaming laptops, the GE40 or the giveaway, visit http://www.msimobile.com or www.usgaming.msi.com.

GE40.png

Source: MSI