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.

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"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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Source: MSI

Razer Blade Haswell Gaming Notebook is Damn Sexy, Powerful

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:47 PM |
Tagged: E3, razer, blade, haswell, gtx 765m, geforce

With the launch of Intel's Haswell processor, accessory maker-turned notebook vendor Razer announced a pretty slick machine, the Blade.  Based on a quad-core, 37 watt Core i7 Haswell CPU and a GeForce GTX 765M GPU, the Razer Blade packs a lot of punch.

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It also includes 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, an mSATA SSD and integrates a 14-in 1600x900 display.  The design of the unit looks very similar to that of the MacBook Pro but the black metal finish is really an attractive style change. 

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The embedded battery is fairly large at 70 Whr and Razer claims this will equate to a 6 hour battery life when operating non-gaming workloads.  With a weight just barely creeping past 4 lbs, the Razer Blade is both portable and powerful it seems.

razer3.jpg

The price tag starts at $1799 so you won't be able to pick one of these up on the cheap, but for users like me that are willing to pay a bit more for performance and style in a slim chassis, the Blade seems like a very compelling option.  There are a lot of questions left to answer on this notebook including the thermal concerns of packing that much high frequency silicon into a thin and light form factor.  Does the unit get hot in bad places?  Can the screen quality match the performance of Haswell + Kepler? 

We are working with Razer to get a model in very soon to put it to the test and I am looking forward to answering if we have found the best gaming portable on the market.

Acer's new Liquid phablet, just how fabulous is it?

Subject: Mobile | June 10, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: acer, phablet, liquid s1

The Liquid S1 is Acer's challenger in the chimeric market segment that bridges both tablets and phones, often referred to as a phablet.  Measure 83mm across (3.2") and 9.6mm thick this 195g device is almost all touchscreen, a bigger screen than the Galaxy Note 2 by a few centimeters and sporting a 1250x720 resolution.  It is running Android Jelly Bean with the Butter upgrade as well as Acer's proprietary interface tweaks.  Inside you will find a quad-core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage, though The Inquirer did not specify the exact make of the CPU.

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"The Acer Liquid S1 looks to challenge the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which has a 5.35in display, with its even larger 5.7in HD touchscreen. We got some time with the device to see how a phone of this size fares in the hand."

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Source: The Inquirer