IFA 2015: Acer Aspire V Notebook Series Gets Skylake and Advanced Wi-Fi

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer

Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.

Aspire_V3-372_white_acercp_straight on.jpg

The Aspire V 13

"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."

MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.

Aspire V15 Nitro VN7-592_08.jpg

The Aspire V 15 Nitro

What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:

  • 6th Gen Intel Core processors
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
  • NVIDIA GeForce graphics
  • (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
  • Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model

Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.

Aspire V17 Nitro VN7-792_win10_02.jpg

The Aspire V 17 Nitro

Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.

Source: Acer

IFA 2015: Lenovo Introduces New ideapad Notebook Lineup

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, Lenovo, laptops, Intel Skylake, Intel Braswell, IFA 2015, ideapad 500S, ideapad 300S, ideapad 100S, Ideapad, gtx, APU, amd


Lenovo has unveiled their reinvented their ideapad (now all lowercase) lineup at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and the new laptops feature updated processors including Intel Braswell and Skylake, as well as some discrete AMD and NVIDIA GPU options.


At the entry-level price-point we find the ideapad 100S which does not contain one of the new Intel chips, instead running an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU and priced accordingly at just $189 for the 11.6” version and $259 for the 14” model. While low-end specs (2GB RAM, 32GB/64GB eMMC storage, 1366x768 screen) aren’t going to blow anyone away, these at least provide a Windows 10 alternative to a Chromebook at about the same cost, and to add some style Lenovo is offering the laptop in four colors: blue, red, white, and silver.


Moving up to the 300S we find a 14” laptop (offered in red, black, or white) with Intel Pentium Braswell processors up to the quad-core N3700, and the option of a FHD 1920x1080 display. Memory and storage options will range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD. At 0.86" thick the 300S weighs 2.9 lbs, and prices will start at $479.

A lower-cost ideapad 300, without the “S” and with more basic styling, will be available in sizes ranging from 14” to 17” and prices starting between $399 and $549 for their respective models. A major distinction will be the inclusion of both Braswell and Intel 6th Gen Skylake CPUs, as well at the option of a discrete AMD GPU (R5 330M). 


Last we have the ideapad 500S, available in 13.3”, 14”, and 15.6” versions. With Intel 6th Gen processors up to Core i7 like the 300S, these also offer optional NVIDIA GPUs (GTX 920M for the 13.3", 940M for the 14"+) and up to FHD screen resolution. Memory and storage options range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD, and the 500S is a bit thinner and lighter than the 300S, with the 13.3” version 0.76” thick and 3.4 lbs, moving up to 0.81” and 4.6 lbs with the 15.6” version.

A non-S version of the ideapad 500 will also be available, and this will be the sole AMD CPU representative with the option of an all-AMD solution powered by up to the A10-7300 APU, or a combination of R7 350M graphics along with 6th Gen Intel Core processors. 14” and 15” models will be available starting at $399 for the APU model and $499 with an Intel CPU.

All of the new laptops ship with Windows 10 as Microsoft’s newest OS arrived just in time for the back-to-school season.

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2015: Lenovo Announces ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460 2-in-1 Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: YOGA 460, YOGA 260, ultrabook, thinkpad yoga, skylake-u, Lenovo, laptop, IFA 2015, 2-in-1

The newest versions of the ThinkPad Yoga are here, and these updated models feature the latest Intel 6th Gen Core (Skylake-U) mobile processors while retaining the trademark 360-degree hinge.


First up we have the ThinkPad Yoga 260, the 12.5-inch variant. This is the original form-factor from the ThinkPad Yoga S1, and while screen size and resolution options haven’t changed virtually everything else about this new laptop has.

The Yoga 260 makes use of the newest Intel CPUs from Core i3 to i7, and unlike that first TP Yoga S1 this uses DIMMs which creates the possibility of upgrading after purchase – but that probably won’t be necessary as the configuration options allow for a very powerful system:

  • 12.5-inch multi-touch display with 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel Core i3-6100U, i5-6200U, i5-6300U, i7-6500U, i7-6600U processors
  • Up to 16 GB DDR4 DIMM
  • Up to 512 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth® 4.1, WiFi Combo Card, SCR, LTE-A
  • 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+ and microSD ports
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10 / Windows 7

The ThinkPad Yoga 260 starts at 2.9 lbs and will be offered in both black and silver finishes. We will update with pricing/availability when available.

Next there is the 14-inch version, the ThinkPad Yoga 460.


The specs for the larger version of the new ThinkPad Yoga are a little more business-oriented than the 260 with an anti-glare screen option, DDR3L memory, and standard HDD storage available, and the 460 also adds a discrete GPU option:

  • 14-inch multi-touch display with 1920x1080 (glossy or anti-glare) or 2560x1440 (glossy) resolution
  • Up to 6th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors
  • Up to 8 GB DDR3L
  • Up to 1TB HDD, 256 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi Combo Card, 802.11ac WLAN, WWAN Connectors
  • 3x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+, 4-in-1 Media Card Slot
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10


The Yoga 460 is constructed from a carbon fiber material and starts at 3.9 lbs, and will also be offered with either a black or silver finish. We’ll update with pricing/availability information for this one as well when it's announced.

Source: Lenovo

What, no ethernet?!? ASUS trims the ZenBook UX305

Subject: Mobile | August 27, 2015 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: asus, ZenBook UX305

That is correct, the 12mm thick Zenbook UX305 from ASUS does not have a LAN port, it is wireless or nothing for this ultrabook.  It does have three USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI, a 3.5mm jack for audio and an SD card reader so you will be able to use some wired peripherals with this ultramobile device.  At a mere 1.2 kg the machine is very light and with a M-5Y10 which can clock between 800MHz up to 2GHz with Turbo Boost it will run when you need it and be gentle on your battery when you do not.  KitGuru has posted a review of the UX305 here.


"The ZenBook UX305 is the latest Ultrabook offering from Asus. When I last reviewed one of their products – the hybrid T300 Chi – it greatly impressed me. The UX305 is a similar device, with a Core M processor, 8GB RAM and another SanDisk M.2 SSD. This time, however, it is a conventional laptop, and is priced at £649.95."

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Source: KitGuru
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell


The Dell Venue 10 7000 Series tablet features a stunning 10.5" OLED screen and is designed to mate perfectly with the optional keyboard. So how does it perform as both a laptop and a tablet? Read on for the full review!


To begin with I will simply say the keyboard should not be an optional accessory. There, I've said it. As I used the Venue 10 7000, which arrived bundled with the keyboard, I was instantly excited about this design. The Venue 10 is a device that is as remarkable for its incredible screen as much as any other feature, but once coupled with the magnetically attached keyboard becomes something more - and quite different than existing implementations of the transforming tablet. More than a simple accessory the keyboard felt like it was really a part of the device when connected, and made it feel like a real laptop.

I'm getting way ahead of myself here so let's go back to the beginning, and back to a world where one might consider purchasing this tablet by itself. At $499 for the 16GB model you might reasonably ask how it compares to the identically-priced Apple iPad Air 2. Well, most of the comparison is going to be software/app related as the Venue 10 7000 is running Android 5.1 Lollipop, and of course the iPad runs iOS. The biggest difference between these tablets (besides the keyboard integration) becomes the 10.5-inch, 2560x1600 OLED screen, and oh what a screen it is!


Continue reading our review of the Dell Venue 10 7000 convertible tablet!!

Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Qualcomm

A third primary processor

As the Hot Chips conference begins in Cupertino this week, Qualcomm is set to divulge another set of information about the upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor. Earlier this month the company revealed details about the Adreno 5xx GPU architecture, showcasing improved performance and power efficiency while also adding a new Spectra 14-bit image processor. Today we shift to what Qualcomm calls the “third pillar in the triumvirate of programmable processors” that make up the Snapdragon SoC. The Hexagon DSP (digital signal processor), introduced initially by Qualcomm in 2004, has gone through a massive architecture shift and even programmability shift over the last 10 years.


Qualcomm believes that building a balanced SoC for mobile applications is all about heterogeneous computing with no one processor carrying the entire load. The majority of the work that any modern Snapdragon processor must handle goes through the primary CPU cores, the GPU or the DSP. We learned about upgrades to the Adreno 5xx series for the Snapdragon 820 and we are promised information about Kryo CPU architecture soon as well. But the Hexagon 600-series of DSPs actually deals with some of the most important functionality for smartphones and tablets: audio, voice, imaging and video.

Interestingly, Qualcomm opened up the DSP to programmability just four years ago, giving developers the ability to write custom code and software to take advantages of the specific performance capabilities that the DSP offers. Custom photography, videography and sound applications could benefit greatly in terms of performance and power efficiency if utilizing the QC DSP rather than the primary system CPU or GPU. As of this writing, Qualcomm claims there are “hundreds” of developers actively writing code targeting its family of Hexagon processors.


The Hexagon DSP in Snapdragon 820 consists of three primary partitions. The main compute DSP works in conjunction with the GPU and CPU cores and will do much of the heavy lifting for encompassed workloads. The modem DSP aids the cellular modem in communication throughput. The new guy here is the lower power DSP in the Low Power Island (LPI) that shifts how always-on sensors can communicate with the operating system.

Continue reading about the Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP!

Qualcomm Introduces Adreno 5xx Architecture for Snapdragon 820

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 12, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 820, snapdragon, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, qualcomm, adreno 530, adreno

Despite the success of the Snapdragon 805 and even the 808, Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 810 SoC had a tumultuous lifespan.  Rumors and stories about the chip and an inability to run in phone form factors without overheating and/or draining battery life were rampant, despite the company’s insistence that the problem was fixed with a very quick second revision of the part. There are very few devices that used the 810 and instead we saw more of the flagship smartphones uses the slightly cut back SD 808 or the SD 805.

Today at Siggraph Qualcomm starts the reveal of a new flagship SoC, Snapdragon 820. As the event coinciding with launch is a graphics-specific show, QC is focusing on a high level overview of the graphics portion of the Snapdragon 820, the updated Adreno 5xx architecture and associated designs and a new camera image signal processor (ISP) aiming to improve quality of photos and recording on our mobile devices.


A modern SoC from Qualcomm features many different processors working in tandem to impact the user experience on the device. While the only details we are getting today focus around the Adreno 530 GPU and Spectra ISP, other segments like connectivity (wireless), DSP, video processing and digital signal processing are important parts of the computing story. And we are well aware that Qualcomm is readying its own 64-bit processor architecture for the Kryo CPU rather than implementing the off-the-shelf cores from ARM used in the 810.

We also know that Qualcomm is targeting a “leading edge” FinFET process technology for SD 820 and though we haven’t been able to confirm anything, it looks very like that this chip will be built on the Samsung 14nm line that also built the Exynos 7420.

But over half of the processing on the upcoming Snapdragon 820 fill focus on visual processing, from graphics to gaming to UI animations to image capture and video output, this chip’s die will be dominated by high performance visuals.

Qualcomm’s lists of target goals for SD 820 visuals reads as you would expect: wanting perfection in every area. Wouldn’t we all love a phone or tablet that takes perfect photos each time, always focusing on the right things (or everything) with exceptional low light performance? Though a lesser known problem for consumers, having accurate color reproduction from capture, through processing and to the display would be a big advantage. And of course, we all want graphics performance that impresses and a user interface that is smooth and reliable while enabling NEW experience that we haven’t even thought of in the mobile form factor. Qualcomm thinks that Snapdragon 820 will be able to deliver on all of that.

Continue reading about the new Adreno 5xx architecture!!

Source: Qualcomm

It's been a busy year for phones so far ... who is coming out on top?

Subject: Mobile | August 11, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, Moto G, galaxy s6, LG G4, iphone 6, HTC One M9, blackphone

The Inquirer has taken a look back at the past years smartphone releases with an eye towards providing a resource to help you compare them.  So far there are 11 phones in their round up, including the somewhat maligned Blackphone which was intended to be completely secure but turned out to be a little less invulnerable than advertised.  An overview of each phone is provided covering basic statistics such as screen size and resolution and often the processor inside.  As you would expect they also include a link to their reviews of the phone and they plan on updating the article as new phones are released.


"THE SMARTPHONE MARKET is becoming increasingly competitive, make it harder and harder for buyers to choose which handset is right for them."

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Source: The Inquirer

Khronos Group at SIGGRAPH 2015

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 10, 2015 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, spir, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, opengl sc, OpenGL ES, opengl, opencl, Khronos

When the Khronos Group announced Vulkan at GDC, they mentioned that the API is coming this year, and that this date is intended to under promise and over deliver. Recently, fans were hoping that it would be published at SIGGRAPH, which officially begun yesterday. Unfortunately, Vulkan has not released. It does hold a significant chunk of the news, however. Also, it's not like DirectX 12 is holding a commanding lead at the moment. The headers were public only for a few months, and the code samples are less than two weeks old.


The organization made announcements for six products today: OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenGL SC, OpenCL, SPIR, and, as mentioned, Vulkan. They wanted to make their commitment clear, to all of their standards. Vulkan is urgent, but some developers will still want the framework of OpenGL. Bind what you need to the context, then issue a draw and, if you do it wrong, the driver will often clean up the mess for you anyway. The briefing was structure to be evident that it is still in their mind, which is likely why they made sure three OpenGL logos greeted me in their slide deck as early as possible. They are also taking and closely examining feedback about who wants to use Vulkan or OpenGL, and why.

As for Vulkan, confirmed platforms have been announced. Vendors have committed to drivers on Windows 7, 8, 10, Linux, including Steam OS, and Tizen (OSX and iOS are absent, though). Beyond all of that, Google will accept Vulkan on Android. This is a big deal, as Google, despite its open nature, has been avoiding several Khronos Group standards. For instance, Nexus phones and tablets do not have OpenCL drivers, although Google isn't stopping third parties from rolling it into their devices, like Samsung and NVIDIA. Direct support of Vulkan should help cross-platform development as well as, and more importantly, target the multi-core, relatively slow threaded processors of those devices. This could even be of significant use for web browsers, especially in sites with a lot of simple 2D effects. Google is also contributing support from their drawElements Quality Program (dEQP), which is a conformance test suite that they bought back in 2014. They are going to expand it to Vulkan, so that developers will have more consistency between devices -- a big win for Android.


While we're not done with Vulkan, one of the biggest announcements is OpenGL ES 3.2 and it fits here nicely. At around the time that OpenGL ES 3.1 brought Compute Shaders to the embedded platform, Google launched the Android Extension Pack (AEP). This absorbed OpenGL ES 3.1 and added Tessellation, Geometry Shaders, and ASTC texture compression to it. It was also more tension between Google and cross-platform developers, feeling like Google was trying to pull its developers away from Khronos Group. Today, OpenGL ES 3.2 was announced and includes each of the AEP features, plus a few more (like “enhanced” blending). Better yet, Google will support it directly.

Next up are the desktop standards, before we finish with a resurrected embedded standard.

OpenGL has a few new extensions added. One interesting one is the ability to assign locations to multi-samples within a pixel. There is a whole list of sub-pixel layouts, such as rotated grid and Poisson disc. Apparently this extension allows developers to choose it, as certain algorithms work better or worse for certain geometries and structures. There were probably vendor-specific extensions for a while, but now it's a ratified one. Another extension allows “streamlined sparse textures”, which helps manage data where the number of unpopulated entries outweighs the number of populated ones.

OpenCL 2.0 was given a refresh, too. It contains a few bug fixes and clarifications that will help it be adopted. C++ headers were also released, although I cannot comment much on it. I do not know the state that OpenCL 2.0 was in before now.

And this is when we make our way back to Vulkan.


SPIR-V, the code that runs on the GPU (or other offloading device, including the other cores of a CPU) in OpenCL and Vulkan is seeing a lot of community support. Projects are under way to allow developers to write GPU code in several interesting languages: Python, .NET (C#), Rust, Haskell, and many more. The slide lists nine that Khronos Group knows about, but those four are pretty interesting. Again, this is saying that you can write code in the aforementioned languages and have it run directly on a GPU. Curiously missing is HLSL, and the President of Khronos Group agreed that it would be a useful language. The ability to cross-compile HLSL into SPIR-V means that shader code written for DirectX 9, 10, 11, and 12 could be compiled for Vulkan. He expects that it won't take long for a project to start, and might already be happening somewhere outside his Google abilities. Regardless, those who are afraid to program in the C-like GLSL and HLSL shading languages might find C# and Python to be a bit more their speed, and they seem to be happening through SPIR-V.

As mentioned, we'll end on something completely different.


For several years, the OpenGL SC has been on hiatus. This group defines standards for graphics (and soon GPU compute) in “safety critical” applications. For the longest time, this meant aircraft. The dozens of planes (which I assume meant dozens of models of planes) that adopted this technology were fine with a fixed-function pipeline. It has been about ten years since OpenGL SC 1.0 launched, which was based on OpenGL ES 1.0. SC 2.0 is planned to launch in 2016, which will be based on the much more modern OpenGL ES 2 and ES 3 APIs that allow pixel and vertex shaders. The Khronos Group is asking for participation to direct SC 2.0, as well as a future graphics and compute API that is potentially based on Vulkan.

The devices that this platform intends to target are: aircraft (again), automobiles, drones, and robots. There are a lot of ways that GPUs can help these devices, but they need a good API to certify against. It needs to withstand more than an Ouya, because crashes could be much more literal.

Manufacturer: Lenovo


After spending some time in the computer hardware industry, it's easy to become jaded about trade shows and unannounced products. The vast majority of hardware we see at events like CES every year is completely expected beforehand. While this doesn't mean that these products are bad by any stretch, they can be difficult to get excited about.

Everyone once and a while however, we find ourselves with our hands on something completely unexpected. Hidden away in a back room of Lenovo's product showcase at CES this year, we were told there was a product would amaze us — called the LaVie.


And they were right.

Unfortunately, the Lenovo LaVie-Z is one of those products that you can't truly understand until you get it in your hands. Billed as the world's lightest 13.3" notebook, the standard LaVie-Z comes in at a weight of just 1.87 lbs. The touchscreen-enabled LaVie-Z 360 gains a bit of weight, coming in at 2.04 lbs.

While these numbers are a bit difficult to wrap your head around, I'll try to provide a bit of context. For example, the Google Nexus 9 weighs .94 lbs. For just over twice the weight as Google's flagship tablet, Lenovo has provided a full Windows notebook with an i7 ultra mobile processor.


Furthermore the new 12" Apple MacBook which people are touting as being extremely light comes in at 2.03 lbs, almost the same weight as the touchscreen version of the LaVie-Z. For the same weight, you also gain a much more powerful Intel i7 processor in the LaVie, when compared to the Intel Core-M option in the MacBook.

All of this comes together to provide an experience that is quite unbelievable. Anyone that I have handed one of these notebooks to has been absolutely amazed that it's a real, functioning computer. The closest analog that I have been able to come up with for picking up the LaVie-Z is one of the cardboard placeholder laptops they have at furniture stores.

The personal laptop that I carry day-to-day is a 11" MacBook Air, which only weighs 2.38 lbs, but the LaVie-Z feels infinitely lighter.

However, as impressive as the weight (or lack thereof) of the LaVie-Z is, let's dig deeper into what the experience of using the world's lightest notebook.

Click here to continue reading our review of the Lenovo LaVie-Z and LaVie-Z 360