IFA 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer Book Trio with Haswell + Atom

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: z2760, transformer book trio, Transformer, ifa 2013, haswell, atom, asus

You want to hear about maybe the craziest device announcement you'll see all year?  ASUS just unveiled the Transformer Book Trio, a device they are dubbing a "three-in-one" that combines hardware from the Haswell architecture and an Atom Z2760 SoC to offer up a tablet, notebook and even a DESKTOP experience.

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The Transformer Book Trio is a detachable ultraportable notebook at a glance with a top portion that can be removed and becomes an 11.6-in, 1920x1080 IPS multi-touch screen based Android tablet powered by the Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail platform.  It includes 64GB of on-board flash storage.

When the display is docked to the keyboard the Trio can switch instantly between a Windows 8 and Android environment by pressing a single key.  Data is even shared between the two units via the tablet's 64GB of flash storage. 

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Here is where things get even more interesting: when detached, the base station of the Transformer Book Trio is not simply dead weight.  As quoted from the ASUS press release below: "With an external display connected via Mini DisplayPort or Micro-HDMI, the PC Station can be used as a self-contained desktop PC featuring Windows 8, which means two people, in two different places, can use the Transformer Book Trio at the same time."

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Crazy right??  There are more details and specifications below, after the break!  I have already inquired about pricing and availability and I'll post more information as soon as I have it!

Read the full press release on the new ASUS Transformer Book Trio!!

Source: ASUS

Corsair Announces High-Capacity, High-Peformance USB 3.0 Flash Drives

Subject: Storage, Mobile | September 3, 2013 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, flash drive, corsair

FREMONT, California — September 3, 2013 — Corsair®, worldwide designer of high-perform­­­­­­ance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the immediate availability of three new USB 3.0 flash drive models—Flash Voyager GS, Flash Voyager Mini, and Flash Voyager LS.

Flash Voyager GS

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The Flash Voyager GS are large-capacity, high performance USB 3.0 flash drives housed in sleek, scratch-resistant brushed metal enclosures. Available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities, the drives take full advantage of high-speed USB 3.0 interfaces reaching speeds of up to 285MB per second read and 180MB per second write, while providing full USB 2.0 backward compatibility for older systems. Their brushed metal housings resist scratches and fingerprints and can be attached to a key ring. Like all Corsair flash drives, they are compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, with no driver installation necessary.

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Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0

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The Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0 are tiny USB flash drives with full-size USB 3.0 performance. Their USB 3.0 interfaces allow for file transfer speeds that are dramatically faster than USB 2.0. For maximum compatibility, the drives fully support USB 2.0. At just 1.25” (32mm) long and equipped with a detachable key ring loop, the Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0 drives are convenient and easy to take everywhere. The drives are housed in a slim, stylish, and durable brushed metal housing that protects data and resists wear and tear.

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Flash Voyager LS

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The Flash Voyager LS are high-performance USB 3.0 flash drives with a premium retracting design that protects their USB connectors and eliminates the need for a protective cap. They are small enough to attach to a key ring, and are fully backward compatible with USB 2.0. Their attractive brushed metal design resists scratching and fingerprints. They drives are available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities.

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Source: Corsair

Lenovo Launches Premium ThinkPad X240 Business Ultrabook

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 2, 2013 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: x240, ultrabook, Thinkpad, Lenovo, ifa

Lenovo recently launched a new high end business ultrabook called the ThinkPad X240. The 12”  ultrabook is aimed at road warriors and business professionals that want high end hardware in a portable form factor.

The ThinkPad X240 is a 12-inch, 20.3mm (0.79”) thick, notebook that weighs less than three pounds (1.34kg). It has large trackpad, backlit keyboard, 720p webcam, Dolby Home Theater Advanced Audio 2 technology, up to a 1080p display, and full size ports. External IO includes VGA, Ethernet, a combo headphone/mic jack, SD card reader, HDMI out, and two USB 3.0 ports.

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Internal specifications include Intel Haswell processors with HD 4400 graphics, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, and up to a 1TB hard drive. The system comes with a TPM chip and finger print reader and can be further configured with a 3G/4G LTE cellular radio, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and NFC radios.

The X240 also features Lenovo's Power Bridge technology which allows users to hot swap batteries while a 3-cell internal battery keeps the system powered up. When the 3-cell internal battery is paired with a removable 6-cell battery, Lenovo rates the X240 at 10 hours of battery life.

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The new ThinkPad X240 is portable and fairly powerful with battery life that business professionals value. Should the reviews hold up, it looks like a solid machine. It will be available around the end of October with a starting price of $1,099.

Source: Lenovo

HTML5 Popularity Growing as an Application Platform

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 1, 2013 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: html5, app

Write once and run everywhere. Web developers, just a few years ago, would scoff and make some offhand comment about several versions of a major browser. The last couple of versions are adhering to standards even better than some other vendors. Applications which can reasonably ignore legacy versions, such as mobile apps embedding the rendering engine of their host OS, are able to reuse large chunks of code. Likewise, browsers have since refocused on performance and feature-parity with native platforms.

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Image Credit: Forrester via ZDNet

Forrester Research, as reported by ZDNet, conducted a survey of 478 North American and European mobile developers. Across all responders, 41% of man-hours are on average spent on native applications. 46% of man-hours are split fairly evenly between web apps and hybrid apps which contain both native and web components.

As such, more time is spent developing applications which take advantage of web standards, to some extent, than apps which do not.

The report finds enterprise applications are more likely to shift towards web technologies than consumer apps. This makes sense in two ways: enterprise software use default user interface elements and, to some extent, less tolerance for the platform owner unilaterally managing compatibility. I would also expect developers of consumer apps to be more concerned about performance and snappy response.

But web technologies are still getting better. Even Epic Games expects many Unreal Engine 4 titles to be handled directly by web browser -- even fully offline experiences. I mean, if you have ever designed a website, you have probably tested it within some random directory in your hard drive. Just because it runs in a web browser, does not mean it requires an internet connection.

It should, however, imply compatibility with other browsers. The curse and the blessing for web developers.

Source: ZDNet

A Linux powered laptop from System76 with all the trimmings

Subject: Mobile | August 27, 2013 - 11:07 AM |
Tagged: linux, ubuntu, system76, Gazelle Pro

The component list of System76's Gazelle Professional laptop reads like a $1000+ ultrabook, a Core i7 4900MQ, 8GB of DDR3-1600, a 120GB Intel 520 SSD and 15.6-inch 1080p display.  Instead of Windows it ships with Ubuntu 13.04, part of the reason you can purchase the base model for $830.  Support for Haswell's HD Graphics 4600 is solid, with performance  far beyond the old HD Graphics 3000; the Ivy Bridge GPU can sometimes outperform Haswell but that will change as drivers improve.  Take a peek at the benchmarks in Phoronix's review.

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"System76 recently sent over their Haswell-based Gazelle Professional laptop that sports HD Graphics 4600, a fancy Intel SSD, 8GB of system memory, and a beautiful HD display. This Haswell Linux laptop has already been used for testing within a few Phoronix articles while now is a full look at this Ubuntu laptop along with some comparison performance tests."

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Source: Phoronix

Block Second Generation GSM texts and calls

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 26, 2013 - 10:05 AM |
Tagged: sweet justice, GSM, hack

[H]ard|OCP has stumbled upon some research even more wonderful than TV-B-Gone, a way to mod your GSM phone to be able to block the reception of phone calls and texts on cellphones using the same provider as you do.  No longer will idiots who are unable to watch a movie in the theater without constantly calling their friends to let them know what they think of it impinge upon your experience.  The hack essentially makes your phone respond to every query from the phone provider as being the target device for the call or text and thanks to a tweak to the software on the phones baseband processor the hacked phone responds to that query before the legitimate phone has a chance.  This will not work on 3G or 4G phones as it is only effective against GSM but the researchers who developed the tweak estimate that 11 modified phones would be enough to completely take down the ability of Germany's third largest provider to provide service in a single cell.

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"By making simple modifications to common Motorola phones, researchers in Berlin have shown they can block calls and text messages intended for nearby people connected to the same cellular network. The method works on the second-generation (2G) GSM networks that are the most common type of cell network worldwide. In the U.S., both AT&T and T-Mobile carry calls and text messages using GSM network."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Futuremark Gets Down To... Its... Business with VR-Zone

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 22, 2013 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: Futuremark, AnTuTu, benchmarking

VR-Zone tossed the bees nest in a paint shaker and received a fairly sedate outcome.

A little background information is required. AnTuTu, a mobile benchmark developed by AnTuTu Labs, has been accused of inaccurate scores and bias towards specific hardware. Leaked BayTrail-T benchmarks, surpassing our expectations of Intel's capabilities, were harshly refuted based on AnTuTu's credibility. More recently, certain Samsung GPUs have been allegedly recorded self-overclocking during that benchmark but not elsewhere.

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Scene from Cloud Gate, latest Windows 3DMark.

Oliver Baltuch, president of Futuremark, accepted an interview with VR-Zone to discuss business and ethics in their marketplace. Futuremark is a direct competitor to AnTuTu and a household name in the benchmarking community. Being modest Fins, self-proclaimed, they did not wish to discuss whether AnTuTu was less honest than they are. Futuremark does disagree with AnTuTu's process, however, and has some suggestions for better results.

The design process for 3D Mark Android begun with 25 pages of specification proposal. Each vendor is given a chance to reply to that proposal and these responses are compared. Changes to the specification must be reviewed by a committee sitting between the financial department and the engineering department.

Baltuch made the point that all of their finances for the last five years, according to Finnish law, can be reviewed for about $7 USD. Despite being a private company, the law mandates no deals can be made in secret.

On the engineering side of things, drivers are approved only if they follow specific guidelines. Unapproved results will be removed from their website and leaderboards followed by a polite conversation with the manufacturer. Drivers are not allowed to identify their benchmarks intent on modifying settings due to that information.

Almost every benchmark they release gets negative responses from some upset vendor or vendors.

The relatively short interview is wrapped up with commentary on iOS benchmarks. Futuremark is nearing completion of their first benchmarking app. Apple disallows apps to exceed 60 frames per second, through vsync, which unnecessarily hinders benchmark scores. Working around this, Futuremark developed a method to render frames which are not displayed on screen to keep the processors from idling once at frame rate cap.

Ryan must love that idea...

This concept has, according to the interview, reached internal QA review and is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Futuremark develops benchmarks for x86 Windows, Windows RT, Android, and iOS. Scores are intended to scale linearly to their metrics and are designed to allow cross-platform performance comparisons.

Also check out our interview with Oliver Baltuch from last February discussing 3D Mark.

Source: VR-Zone

Samsung Open Sources exFAT File System

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | August 20, 2013 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: exFAT, Samsung

But Linux distributions still cannot officially use it... sort of?

Samsung added support for exFAT on Linux, in kernel, with one of their tablets. At some point code was leaked on GitHub. At some other point the Software Freedom Conservancy determined certain GPL-dependent modifications were published in binary form alone. Eventually Samsung properly released their source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

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I am still unclear about how Samsung was allowed to do so, however. Copyright was never the main concern with exFAT but rather the patents Microsoft holds over the file system. The GPL mandates that code it covers must come with a non-exclusive worldwide and royalty-free license for applicable patents except under certain conditions. I would be curious how this license was accomplished unless Microsoft granted Samsung a patent license prior to March 28, 2007 (or some loophole like that).

I understand how people might be sympathetic to Microsoft and others asserting software patents because they are a for-profit business but that does not apply everywhere. You need to be careful when you apply a license to something as upstream as a file system or a kernel as everything downstream relies upon your decision.

Just imagine if you were separated from the contents of your SDXC card because, somehow, this patent found its way into the portfolio of a troll firm?

Current implementations of the file system are in user space until Samsung's in-kernel module. The Software Freedom Conservancy praised Samsung -- not only for their source code contribution -- but also for how open and public their response was.

Source: Phoronix
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer:

Introduction and Design

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It seems like only yesterday (okay, last month) that we were testing the IdeaPad Yoga 11, which was certainly an interesting device. That’s primarily because of what it represents: namely, the slow merging of the tablet and notebook markets. You’ve probably heard people proclaiming the death of the PC as we know it. Not so fast—while it’s true that tablets have eaten into the sales of what were previously low-powered notebooks and now-extinct netbooks, there is still no way to replace the utility of a physical keyboard and the sensibility of a mouse cursor. Touch-centric devices are hard to beat when entertainment and education are the focus of a purchase, but as long as productivity matters, we aren’t likely to see traditional means of input and a range of connectivity options disappear anytime soon.

The IdeaPad Yoga 11 leaned so heavily in the direction of tablet design that it arguably was more tablet than notebook. That is, it featured a tablet-grade SOC (the nVidia Tegra 3) as opposed to a standard Intel or AMD CPU, an 11” display, and a phenomenal battery life that can only be compared to the likes of other ARM-based tablets. But, of course, with those allegiances come necessary concessions, not least of which is the inability to run x86 applications and the consequential half-baked experiment that is Windows RT.

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Fortunately, there’s always room for compromise, and for those of us searching for something closer to a notebook than the original Yoga 11, we’re now afforded the option of the 11S. Apart from being nearly identical in terms of form factor, the $999 (as configured) Yoga 11S adopts a standard x86 chipset with Intel ULV CPUs, which allows it to run full-blown Windows 8. That positions it squarely in-between the larger x86 Yoga 13 and the ARM-based Yoga 11, which makes it an ideal candidate for someone hoping for the best of both worlds. But can it survive the transition, or do its compromises outstrip its gains?

Our Yoga 11S came equipped with a fairly standard configuration:

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Unless you’re comparing to the Yoga 11’s specs, not much about this stands out. The Core i5-3339Y is the first thing that jumps out at you; in exchange for the nVidia Tegra 3 ARM-based SOC of the original Yoga 11, it’s a much more powerful chip with a 13W TDP and (thanks to its x86 architecture) the ability to run Windows 8 and standard Windows applications. Next on the list is the included 8 GB of DDR3 RAM—versus just 2 GB on the Yoga 11. Finally, there’s USB 3.0 and a much larger SSD (256 GB vs. 64 GB)—all valuable additions. One thing that hasn’t changed, meanwhile, is the battery size. Surely you’re wondering how this will affect the longevity of the notebook under typical usage. Patience; we’ll get to that in a bit! First, let’s talk about the general design of the notebook.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Convertible Notebook!

Kingston MobileLite Wireless WiFi Storage device

Subject: Mobile | August 19, 2013 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: kingston, MobileLite Wireless, wifi, wireless storage

Carting a large sized USB drive around is handy but Kingston has gone one step further with the MobileLite Wireless device which acts as a WiFi router for an attached USB drive or SD card.  It sports a 1800mAh 3.7v battery which should allow for up to 5 hours of usage and up to 3 devices can connect at any time making it a nice WAP you can carry around with you.  By not including any storage media Kingston kept the price down and with SD support you can store quite a bit in the device as long as you purchased a large SD card. The transfer rates that HiTech Legion were seeing were not incredible but would suffice for streaming video and certainly data.

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"Kingston MobileLite Wireless is a flexible Wi-Fi storage device that is lightweight and portable. The MobileLite Wireless acts as a USB hub and a card reader when plugged in to a laptop or a desktop computer. When unplugged, the MobileLite Wireless can then be used as a wireless file server, allowing up to three simultaneous wireless device connections to access the data stored on both the USB port or the SD card reader slot when populated."

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