The other Android, a look at the OnePlus 2

Subject: Mobile | December 8, 2015 - 11:05 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, OxygenOS, oneplus 2, Android

OnePlus is not likely the first source you would think of when purchasing an Android phone but perhaps this review over at Techgage might just change that.  As you can see below the phones are rather attractive and OxygenOS is an interesting flavour of Lollipop 5.1.1.  The charge cable is also an interesting feature, it is USB Type-C, however the cable it ships with is specific to this phone and you should not be charging other USB devices with it as it is out of spec.  While there are advantages to a custom USB cable, there is also some danger associated with it so make sure to keep it separate from your other cables if you intend on picking this phone up.

The hardware includes an 8-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and Adreno 430 GPU powering a 5.5" 1080p IPS screen.  Depending on the model you choose you will either have 16GB local storage and 3GB of DDR4 or 64GB and 4GB.  Techgage liked the phone a lot, with a few caveats; check them out in the full review.

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"When a smartphone vendor comes along and offers its latest option as a “flagship killer”, it doesn’t exactly leave much room for leeway: it’s either going to be accurate, or off the mark. On paper, the OnePlus 2’s case seems to be solid, so let’s take a hard look at it and see if its promises are lived up to."

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Source: Techgage

NVIDIA Publishes 359.12 Hotfix Driver for GTX 860M

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | December 6, 2015 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, 860m

Users of notebooks with the GeForce GTX 860M GPU have apparently been experiencing crashes in many new titles. To remedy these issues, NVIDIA has published GeForce Hotfix Driver 359.12. If you do not have the GeForce GTX 860M, and all of your games work correctly, then you probably shouldn't install this. It has not been tested as much as official releases, by either Microsoft or NVIDIA, so other issues could have been introduced and no-one would know.

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If you do have that specific GPU though, and you are having problems running certain titles, then you can install the driver now. Otherwise, you can wait for future, WHQL-certified drivers too. Some users are apparently claiming that the issues were fixed, while others complain about crashes in games like Mad Max and Shadow of Mordor.

Source: NVIDIA

Lenovo Announces ThinkPad Yoga P40 Mobile Workstation

Subject: Systems, Mobile | December 2, 2015 - 05:09 AM |
Tagged: yoga, wacom, ThinkPad Yoga P40, Thinkpad, NVIDIA Quadro M500M, mobile workstation, Lenovo, ips, Intel Core i7

Lenovo has announced a pair of new mobile workstations at the Autodesk University event in Las Vegas, and the front-runner is the latest ThinkPad Yoga.

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This new ThinkPad Yoga P40 may look like the previous models, but it's loaded with workstation-level features and specs, beginning with the 2560x1440 IPS display with Wacom Active ES technology that boasts 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Lenovo says the software driving this digitizer has been carefully optimized with help from Wacom:

"Professional artists and designers have been clear with the need for absolute precision and accuracy. Working with Wacom, Lenovo developed a unique driver to get closer than ever to the ‘pen to paper’ experience. For a comfortable and realistic sketching experience, the rechargeable ThinkPad Pen Pro is included, along with additional pen tips providing varied levels of tactile feedback for the professional community."

The underlying hardware features 6th-Gen Intel Core i7 processors, graphics provided by a 2GB NVIDIA Quadro M500M card, up to 16GB of memory (SoDIMM), a 512 GB SSD, and Intel 8260 2x2 802.11ac wireless. The ThinkPad Yoga P40 also features the Lift 'n Lock keyboard from the original ThinkPad Yoga "with a frame that automatically rises around the keys when the Yoga device switches into tablet mode", and Mil-SPEC construction.

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Image credit: Laptop Mag

The ThinkPad P40 Yoga will be available beginning in Q1 2016, and pricing will start at $1399.

Source: Lenovo

Rumors Surrounding the LG NUCLUN 2 SoC

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 1, 2015 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, LG, Intel, arm

So this story came out of nowhere. Whether the rumors are true or false, I am stuck on how everyone seems to be talking about it with a casual deadpan. I spent a couple hours Googling whether I missed some big announcement that made Intel potentially fabricating ARM chips a mundane non-story. Pretty much all that I found was Intel allowing Altera to make FPGAs with embedded ARM processors in a supporting role, which is old news.

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Image Credit: Internet Memes...

The rumor is that Intel and TSMC were both vying to produce LG's Nuclon 2 SoC. This part is said to house two quad-core ARM modules in a typical big.LITTLE formation. Samples were allegedly produced, with Intel's part (2.4 GHx) being able to clock around 300 MHz faster than TSMC's offering (2.1 GHz). Clock rate is highly dependent upon the “silicon lottery,” so this is an area that production maturity can help with. Intel's sample would also be manufactured at 14nm (versus 16nm from TSMC although these numbers mean less than they used to). LG was also, again allegedly, interesting in Intel's LTE modem. According to the rumors, LG went with TSMC because they felt Intel couldn't keep up with demand.

Now that the rumor has been reported... let's step back a bit.

I talked with Josh a couple of days ago about this post. He's quite skeptical (as I am) about the whole situation. First and foremost, it takes quite a bit of effort to port a design to a different manufacturing process. LG could do it, but it is questionable, especially for a second chip ever sort of thing. Moreover, I still believe that Intel doesn't want to manufacture chips that directly compete with them. x86 in phones is still not a viable business, but Intel hasn't given up and you would think that's a prerequisite.

So this whole thing doesn't seem right.

Source: Android

Rumor About Samsung's Upcoming Flagship Phone

Subject: Mobile | November 29, 2015 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, s7, galaxy

The follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy S6 is already being rumored, which people are obviously calling the Galaxy S7. The last two phones were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, which takes place in late February / early March. Information coming out in November is a bit... early. Some sites believe that Samsung will announce the phone in January, but who knows? Some of the rumors are interesting, though.

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The one that catches my attention is the potential inclusion of a microSD card slot. External storage is rare these days, with Google removing it from their Nexus line and severely limiting what apps can do with the contents. That said, Android 6.0, recently released for a few devices, made further changes to increase its capabilities. You can now use SD cards as internal storage, but only if you agree to format and encrypt the storage to use only on that device. While the recent batch of Nexus phones don't include a microSD card slot, the changes might be enough to sway third-party manufacturers to include a slot.

As a developer, it would certainly be nice, especially if you intend to develop software that uses an SD card. Makes sense, right? Purchasing a developer phone that has all the features you might want to target?

Speaking of developer phones, the upcoming device should have a top-of-the-line processor in it. Reports are split between the Snapdragon 820 and the Exynos 8890. If it's the latter, availability is expected Q1 2016; the former started sampling a few months ago and was launched on November 11th. As such, SoC availability should be ready if Samsung intends to launch the phone early, regardless of the chosen chip, but that's probably not the limiting factor. It is also entirely possible that Samsung could include different processors for different markets. Qualcomm was absent from the Galaxy S6 line, but the S5 had some sub-models using Qualcomm processors and others Samsung's own implementation.

Either way, they are fast processors that support OpenGL ES 3.1 + AEP at the very least. The Adreno 530 is rated for about 550 GFLOPs, which is a tiny bit faster than a GeForce 9800 GT, although with Vulkan-level feature support (provided correct drivers). Thankfully Google has been more friendly to Khronos-based standards, and Samsung even more so.

When will we know for sure? Don't know. How much will it cost? Don't know. What will it be officially called? Don't know, but anything other than Galaxy S7 would be surprising. Would it make sense for Samsung to shake up the date and other long-running details? Well, the Galaxy S6 launch was lackluster, so this would be the most likely time for them to be squirrely. We'll see.

Source: PCMag

ASUS Announces New N Series Laptops with Intel Skylake and 4K IPS

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 22, 2015 - 06:30 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, PCIe SSD, notebook, N752, N552, laptop, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 960M, asus, 4k

ASUS has added two new laptops to their N series line up premium, entertainment-focused laptops. The new models offer Intel’s 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 processors and high resolution IPS displays, as well as fast PCIe storage and discrete NVIDIA graphics.

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The new models are the 15.6-inch N552 and 17.3-inch N752, and both sizes offer wide-gamut IPS display options up to 3840x2160 with 100% sRGB coverage. The displays are powered by graphics up to a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors power both models, with a generous 16GB of RAM standard. Storage is provided via PCIe x4 storage with speeds of 1500 MB/s with capacities up to 512 MB, and external connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.

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While boasting powerful specs these N-series laptops are also geared toward entertainment, with ASUS drawing attention to the sound from their “SonicMaster” audio system, which boasts powerful B&O ICEpower class-D amplification for the laptop’s front-facing speakers. Other features include backlit keys which offer 1.8 mm travel, and aluminum covering the keyboard area and lid.

The new models haven’t shown up on the U.S. product pages just yet, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

Source: TechPowerUp

Blackberry exposes its Privs and the world ... likes it?

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2015 - 11:23 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, Priv, Android

Could it truly be enough to add a little Android to your Blackberry to bring them back to some form of popularity?  From what this contributor at The Register has to say it could very well be what the company once known as RIM needed.  The Priv is described as the least irritating Android phone they've ever used, which translates to high praise when you are talking about a Blackberry device.  The sliding keyboard is actually useful, the BlackBerry DTek security app is decent but requires a Google account to be linked to the phone, as do many other apps.  Check out the review to see if this is a berry flavoured Lollipop you might actually want a few licks at.

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"Other than that, none of which really counts, I think this might be my least disliked Android phone so far. It’s at least as good as the best Android phones I have used, because it’s the same as all other Androids, just minus the garbage often layered on top. And it’s better, because the BlackBerry stuff layered on top is very far from being garbage."

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Source: The Register

NVIDIA Re-Releases SHIELD Tablet as K1 - Cuts Price to $199

Subject: Mobile | November 18, 2015 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tablet, shield tablet k1, shield controller, shield, nvidia, gaming tablet, Android

NVIDIA has released their updated version of the SHIELD tablet with a new name, but very little has changed other than the name (now the SHIELD tablet K1) and the price - now $100 less expensive at $199.99.

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The SHIELD tablet K1 (pictured case and controller are not included)

Under the hood the 8-inch Android-powered tablet is identical to its predecessor, with the quad-core Tegra K1 processor with its 192 CUDA core GPU powering the gaming action on the 1920x1200 display. The controller is still a separate $59.99 purchase, but of course this is not required to use the tablet.

Here are full specs from NVIDIA:

  • Processor: NVIDIA Tegra K1 192 core Kepler GPU (2.2 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU with 2 GB RAM)
  • Display: 8-inch 1920x1200 multi-touch full-HD display
  • Audio: Front-facing stereo speakers with built-in microphone
  • Storage: 16 GB
  • Wireless: 802.11n 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS/GLONASS
  • I/O: Mini-HDMI output, Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD slot, 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support
  • Motion Sensors: 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis compass
  • Cameras: Front, 5MP HDR; Back, 5MP auto-focus HDR
  • Battery: 19.75 Watt Hours
  • Dimensions: Weight, 12.6 oz (356 g); H x W x D: 8.8 in (221 mm) x 5.0 in (126 mm) x 0.36 in (9.2 mm)
  • Operating System: Android Lollipop
  • Gaming Features: SHIELD controller compatible, GeForce NOW cloud gaming service, Console Mode, NVIDIA ShadowPlay
  • Included Apps: Google Play, NVIDIA SHIELD Hub, Fallout Shelter, NVIDIA Dabbler, Squid, Twitch

NVIDIA_SHIELD_tablet_K1.jpg

This update really comes down to price, as NVIDIA is being more aggressive about the adoption of their gaming tablet with the new MSRP. This doesn't come without some concessions, however, as the SHIELD tablet K1 ships without any accessories (no USB cable or charger). It's a move remienscent of Nintendo with the "New 3DS XL", which also shipped without a charger, and the standard micro-USB connection should be readily at hand for most of the target audience.

The question of course must be, is this now a more compelling product at $199? It does make the controller seem a bit more affordable considering the bundle will now run $260 - $40 below the previous tablet-only price. Time will tell (and of course you can let us know in the comments below!).

NVIDIA is selling the SHIELD tablet K1 directly from their web store, and it's already on Amazon for the same $199.99 price.

Source: NVIDIA

LG L15G Sunrise TracFone is $9.82 at Walmart

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2015 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: LG, tracfone, walmart

Don't expect much.

This $9.82 phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a 1.2 GHz, dual-core processor, which is backed by 512 MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage, which LG advertises as having “up to 1.15 GB usable”. It is also listed as having about 7 hours of talk time, with almost 10 days of standby (although that is probably with next to nothing running). These components power a phone with a 3.8-inch, 480x320 display. It is not compatible with LTE, but it does have WiFi and 3G.

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That said, the person writing this article is currently using an LG Optimus One from 2010, which runs Android 2.2 and doesn't even have enough on-device storage to install and use Firefox for Android. (My phone has ~60MB usable with basically nothing installed and a couple of built-in apps uninstalled.) So, for someone like me, this phone would actually be a step up and usable for something more than just phone calls.

... not much more, but maybe $10 worth of more?

Source: Walmart
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

Skylake Architecture Comes Through

When Intel finally revealed the details surrounding it's latest Skylake architecture design back in August at IDF, we learned for the first time about a new technology called Intel Speed Shift. A feature that moves some of the control of CPU clock speed and ramp up away from the operating system and into hardware gives more control to the processor itself, making it less dependent on Windows (and presumably in the future, other operating systems). This allows the clock speed of a Skylake processor to get higher, faster, allowing for better user responsiveness.

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It's pretty clear that Intel is targeting this feature addition for tablets and 2-in-1s where the finger/pen to screen interaction is highly reliant on immediate performance to enable improved user experiences. It has long been known that one of the biggest performance deltas between iOS from Apple and Android from Google centers on the ability for the machine to FEEL faster when doing direct interaction, regardless of how fast the background rendering of an application or web browser actually is. Intel has been on a quest to fix this problem for Android for some time, where it has the ability to influence software development, and now they are bringing that emphasis to Windows 10.

With the most recent Windows 10 update, to build v10586, Intel Speed Shift has finally been enabled for Skylake users. And since you cannot disable the feature once it's installed, this is the one and only time we'll be able to measure performance in our test systems. So let's see if Intel's claims of improved user experiences stand up to our scrutiny.

Continue reading our performance evaluation of Intel Speed Shift on the Skylake Architecture!!