An iPhone users look at the Galaxy S4

Subject: Mobile | July 11, 2013 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s4

The Tech Report's resident Apple fan stepped away from his iPhone to try out the hottest Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4.  He used them in parallel to be able to contrast their usability and while he loved the larger size of the S4 the TouchWiz was perhaps not his favourite part of the phone.  As an Apple user he was a little surprised by the setup required to personalize the phone to his preferences, which is understandable when iOS is the only phone OS he had really spend time with.  Take a peek at the article and maybe forward it on to a friend who would do well to read it.

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"Last year, TR's Cyril Kowaliski bought an iPhone 5. For the past three weeks, however, he's been using one of the finest Android handsets on the market: the Samsung Galaxy S4. Here's what he has learned."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another Wrench – GeForce GTX 760M Results

Just recently, I evaluated some of the current processor-integrated graphics options from our new Frame Rating performance metric. The results were very interesting, proving Intel has done some great work with its new HD 5000 graphics option for Ultrabooks. You might have noticed that the MSI GE40 didn’t just come with the integrated HD 4600 graphics but also included a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M, on-board.  While that previous article was to focus on the integrated graphics of Haswell, Trinity, and Richland, I did find some noteworthy results with the GTX 760M that I wanted to investigate and present.

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The MSI GE40 is a new Haswell-based notebook that includes the Core i7-4702MQ quad-core processor and Intel HD 4600 graphics.  Along with it MSI has included the Kepler architecture GeForce GTX 760M discrete GPU.

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This GPU offers 768 CUDA cores running at a 657 MHz base clock but can stretch higher with GPU Boost technology.  It is configured with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 2.0 GHz

If you didn’t read the previous integrated graphics article, linked above, you’re going to have some of the data presented there spoiled and so you might want to get a baseline of information by getting through that first.  Also, remember that we are using our Frame Rating performance evaluation system for this testing – a key differentiator from most other mobile GPU testing.  And in fact it is that difference that allowed us to spot an interesting issue with the configuration we are showing you today. 

If you are not familiar with the Frame Rating methodology, and how we had to change some things for mobile GPU testing, I would really encourage you to read this page of the previous mobility Frame Rating article for the scoop.  The data presented below depends on that background knowledge!

Okay, you’ve been warned – on to the results.

Continue reading our story about GeForce GTX 760M Frame Rating results and Haswell Optimus issues!!

New Ultrathin ThinkPad T440S Appears On Lenovo Website

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:40 AM |
Tagged: laptop, Lenovo, Thinkpad, haswell, Intel, windows 8

A new ultrathin laptop for business users has appeared on Lenovo’s website. Called the Lenovo ThinkPad T440S, it is an Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell"-powered machine running Windows 8.

The ThinkPad T440S features a magnesium and carbon fiber chassis that is 21mm thick. It has a full size, spill resistant, keyboard with multimedia function keys, a TrackPoint, and a multi-touch trackpad. The T440S has a 14” display with optional multi-touch and a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

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This laptop will start at 3.5 pounds. It can be configured with two 3-cell batteries with one internal and one removable battery. In this configuration, users can swap out the removable battery for a spare without powering down the system (a technology Lenovo calls Power Bridge). Other features include a 720p webcam with dual noise canceling mics.

IO includes three USB 3.0 ports, one Mini DisplayPort and one VGA video output, and a SD card reader. The T440S also comes equipped with an NFC radio.

Unfortunately, additional specifications and pricing data is not yet listed on the Lenovo site. If you are a business user in need of a thin and light laptop, keep a lookout on this product page for more information as the laptop gets closer to release.

Source: Lenovo

More Details On Upcoming Nokia Lumia 1020 WP8 Smartphone With 41MP Camera Emerge Ahead of Release

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:01 AM |
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8, nokia lumia 1020, nokia, lumia 1020

Additional details have emerged concerning Nokia’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphone with 41MP camera: the Lumia 1020 “EOS.” Thanks to Windows Phone Central, several of the rumored specifications have been confirmed and new photos of the hardware are available.

According to the new information, the new smartphone is officially the Lumia 1020 and it will run the latest update of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.0 mobile operating system. It will be an AT&T exclusive in the United States and should be available around the end of June, at the earliest.

The smartphone features a polycarbonate body (like its other WP8 phones) that will come in yellow, white, or black. The front of the device is dominated by a 4.5” 720p AMOLED display. The rear of the phone sports the most interesting bit of hardware on this phone, which is the PureView camera.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone 8 Smartphone with OIS 41MP Camera.jpg

The camera features a 41MP sensor and Xenon and LED flashes. Other specifications include F2.2 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization. Nokia will be bundling a pre-installed Pro Camera app that will allow users to adjust ISO, white balance, manual focus, shutter speed, and flash usage.

The Lumia 1020 will take a 32MP and super-sampled (7:1) 5MP photo simultaneously at a 16:9 aspect ratio or a single 4:3 aspect ratio photo at 38MP. Unfortunately, video functionality has not been detailed.

Internal specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (rumor) SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (not expandable). Wireless technology includes an FM radio, NFC (Near Field Communication) radio, Wi-Fi, cellular (bands not specified yet), and an optional back cover that enables wireless charging. If the SoC is indeed the Snapdragon 800, that means four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at up to 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and a 4G LTE modem.

The new Nokia Lumia 1020 WP8 flagship is being shipped to various Microsoft stores on June 22nd, and is coming to AT&T at the end of June. The AT&T subsidized price with a 2 year contract has not been announced, but the off-contract price is allegedly $602.

Source: WPCentral
Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Battle of the IGPs

Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers.  What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing. 

Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks.  Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs.  It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.

 

Battle of the IGPs

Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today.  With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products.  In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge.  Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up. 

 

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When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself.  Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments.  Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later.  Now is later.

So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air.  A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options.  Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2.  The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand. 

Continue reading our story on Frame Rating with Haswell, Trinity and Richland!!

HTC Releases Q2 2013 Results, Better than Q1 But Still Down YoY

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: htc, financial results, Android

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has released financial results for its Q2 2013. All things considered, HTC had a good quarter, but it is still far from reaching the performance of the prior year.

HTC had quarterly revenue of approximately $2.35 billion (NT $70.7 billion), net income of $41.5 million (NT $1.25 billion), and Earnings Per Share (EPS) of $0.05 (NT $1.50).

HTC One Android Smartphone.jpg

The previous quarter (Q1'13) saw HTC achieve revenue of $1.42 billion (NT $42.8 billion), net profit of $2.82 million (NT $85 million), and EPS of $.003 (NT $0.10). The company's HTC One smartphone is likely a contributor to the improved performance QoQ.

Year over Year (YoY), HTC is still down quite a bit. In Q2 of 2012, HTC had revenue of $3.02 billion (NT $91.04 billion), net profit of $245.6 million (NT $7.4 billion), and EPS of $0.30 (NT $8.90). The following chart shows the figures in USD in a handy table.

  Q2 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2012
Revenue $2.35 Billion $1.42 Billion $3.02 Billion
Net Income $41.5 Million $2.82 Million $245.6 Million
Earnings Per Share $0.05 $0.003 $0.30

YoY, HTC's Q2 revenue is down about 22% while net profit and EPS are both down about 83% respectively. The recent financial report is not all bad news, however. HTC is recovering from its fall and saw a positive increase over the first quarter of 2013 with 65.5% higher quarterly revenue. Profit and EPS also saw a massive jump over the previous quarter. The HTC announcement did not include and outlook for investors, but the company is refocusing on quality hardware and had a positive quarter.

Source: HTC

Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

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Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail

Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.

The Droid Guy compiled it with a few scores from competing, ARM, devices.

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Image Credit: The Droid Guy

The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.

Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.

If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.

I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.

Just Delivered: Samsung Galaxy Centura Android Smartphone (SCH-S738C)

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, sch-s738c, Samsung, just delivered, galaxy centura, android 4.0.4

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Find the Galaxy Centura on Amazon!

I recently decided to move away from AT&T and try out a Straight Talk plan on the recommendation of friends. Moving to Straight Talk also meant getting a new phone though, because when I went to Straight Talk last month AT&T compatible SIM cards were still not available.

Long story short, I ended up getting the Samsung Galaxy Centura smart phone and Straight Talk's $45/month no-contract offering, which is around half of what I was paying AT&T! The phone itself cost $100.

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The Samsung Galaxy Centura is smartphone that operates on Verizon's network and runs Android 4.0.4. Not the latest and greatest Android, but Samsung has not "blessed" the phone with its TouchWiz UI and a nice step up from the Samsung Infuse 4G's Android 2.3 OS that Samsung never bothered updating further (heh).

The Samsung Galaxy Centura is model number SCH-S738C (GP). It measures 4.44" (H) x 2.4" (W) x 0.45" (D) and weighs 4.4 ounces. The front of the phone features a 3.5" 262K TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480. A small speaker grill and Tracfone logo sit at the top, while a Samsung logo and three capacitive buttons sit below the screen. The buttons are menu, home, and back. The front of the phone is black and surrounded by a glossy blue bezel that also matches the battery door.

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The back of the phone has another Samsung logo, a speaker grill, and a 3MP camera capable of shooting 3MP stills and 640 x 480 video. The back of the phone comes off and doubles as the battery door. Samsung has put several clips along the edges to hold it in place, and may actually be a bit too secure as it can be hard to get the door off.

A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone, a power button is located on teh right side, and two volume buttons are located on the left edge. The bottom edge includes a micro-USB connector.

Internally, the Galaxy Centura features a Qualcomm MSM7625A SoC with a single core Snapdragon S1 processor (45nm, Cortex-A5) clocked at 800 Mhz, an Adreno 200 GPU, and a CDMA cellular radio. Additionally, the SoC is paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card under the battery door), and a decent 3.7V, 5.55 Wh, 1500 mAh battery. Other internal hardware includes an accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth radio, and Wi-Fi radio. I am not as familiar with CDMA as GSM, but the Centura operates on Verizon's equivalent to AT&T's 3G network for data and vocie (though not at the same time). It is currently connected to Verizon's EVDO Rev. A:8 network. As far as network data speed, the fastest results I have been able to get, as measured by speedtest.net, are 1,276 kbps down and 487 kbps up.

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While it had no problems running Android games at decent frame rates, 3DMark mobile pushed it to its limits. It scored 536 in the Ice Storm benchmark and 281 in the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, for example. Unfortunately, this 3DMark app was not available when I had the Infuse 4G so I am not able to offer up comparison results.

Now that the specifications and pricing is out of the way, I can talk a bit about first impressions. I have been using the smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and it is a fairly solid device, especially considering the price of the hardware (and the monthly plan is cheap too). It is noticeably slower at some tasks than my old Samsung Infuse, but that is to be expected with slower-clocked hardware. With that said, performance was actually much better than I expected it to be. The phone is able to run apps and games without issue, though when multi-tasking the game frame-rate starts to dip. Switching between applications (especially with a game running) is not as snappy as with my Infuse, but not terribly slow either. I'm not sure if it's the newer version of Android or not, but the software side of things seems to work well on this hardware.

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The physical smartphone is plastic, but it feels well built. Admittedly, I have dropped my new phone quite a few more times than I would have liked (heh), but it has held up really well. It has not yet gone plastic to concrete yet though. Dropping it on tile and carpet has not caused any issues, however. When holding the phone and using the touchscreen, there is no creaking of the battery door and it seems to stand up to pressure without problems. With that said, I do have one complaint about the physical hardware, and that is that when holding the phone in the landscape position, the end of the back cover next to the speaker grill gives too much and makes a creaking noise when pressed in (say, when playing a racing game). That is the only area that exhibits that issue, however. It is likely due to the fact that Samsung carved out a bit internally for the microSD card and speaker underneath the back cover on the phone itself whereas the rest of the phone's back cover fits snugly to the back of the phone.

Overall, I'm happy with the phone, it gets excellent signal where I live now and is a good Android (albeit 4.0.4) experience for only $100 for the hardware. If you are off contract right now and thinking about switching to one of the many MVNOs (and live in an area with good Verizon coverage), I'd recommend trying out the Samsung Galaxy Centura from what I've experienced thus far. It is not the latest or fastest hardware by far, but it has great price/performance.

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.

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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!