Introduction and Design
Viewed from a bird’s eye, gaming laptops seem to be a homogenous bunch. Although there are rare exceptions like the Alienware M11x, most are 15.6” or 17” models with quad-core processors and discrete mobile graphics, most frequently the Nvidia GTX 460M. The two gaming laptops we’ve most recently reviewed, the ASUS G53 and MSI GT680R, most certainly fit into this mold.
Upon closer inspection, however, the market for gaming laptops begins to expand and multiply into a wide array of options. While the big players like ASUS, Toshiba and MSI are happy to offer their pre-configured models with roughly similar hardware, customized rigs are as numerous as stars in the sky. Everyone has heard of Alienware, of course, but you may not have heard of companies like Origin, Falcon Northwest, AVADirect, AFactor Gaming, Malibal, Digital Storm and Maingear, just to name a few (or if you have, you may have only heard of their desktops).
Maingear’s eX-L15 is a stereotypical example of a custom gaming laptop. It’s big and it’s bulky, but its appearance is not much different from your average laptop. Inside, however, there is a buffet of high-end hardware.
Subject: Mobile | May 24, 2011 - 03:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, Thinkpad, X1
There is a lot to love about the ThinkPad X1, inside a Core i5-2520M @ 2.5 GHz (with Intel HD 3000 graphics of course) 4GB of DDR3 and a 7200RPM 320GB HDD powers a 13.4" 1366 x 768 LCD which is covered with Corning Gorilla glass. All that in a package weighing 3.73lbs and with dimensions of 13.26" x 9.1" x 0.84". Even the back plate is interesting, with a USB 3.0 port, HDMI port, Mini DisplayPort port and a powered eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, in addition to the card reader and USB 2.0 ports. Unless you are married to the IPS LCD on the X220 TechSpot highly recommends this laptop.
“A couple of months ago we were checking out Lenovo’s then latest ThinkPad offering, the X220. Based on Intel’s second generation Core processors, this system was classic business-oriented ThinkPad throughout. A few months before the X220, I had the IdeaPad U260 in-house which was classified by Lenovo as a “thin, light, stylish travel companion”.
I mention those two units as a transition to what we have for review today, the new ThinkPad X1. As the thinnest ThinkPad ever, the X1 seemingly takes the best features from the X220 and the U260 and merges them into one. The result is an extremely thin and sleek 13.4” notebook that is a real follow-up model to the X300 series that many came to own and love a couple of years ago.”
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s Review @ TechReviewSource
- Toshiba Satellite M645-S4118X Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch 2011 Edition @ TweakTown
- Cooler Master NotePal LapAir Notebook Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Samsung Series 9 900X3A-A01CA Laptop Review - This May Be a Work of Art... Almost @ The SSD Review
- Acer Iconia Tab A500 Review @ t-break
- Motorola Xoom WiFi 32GB Review @ t-break
- Tablets- just not there yet @ t-break
- Motorola Atrix and lapdock video review @ The Inquirer
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (Verizon Wireless) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Smartphone, the abridged version: Ars reviews the HP Veer
- Otterbox Commuter and Impact Series Cases for the HTC EVO 4G Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Samsung Galaxy S II Review @ TechReviewSource
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review @ t-break
- Doro PhoneEasy 410gsm Cell Phone Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Motherboards, Systems, Mobile | May 21, 2011 - 03:11 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: hardware, ECS, computex
ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) will be attending this years Computex 2011 convention, and they plan to unveil a slew of new hardware. During the week, they will be showing off new motherboards, a new graphics card, four All-In-One PCs, two tablets, two notebooks, and an eBook reader of all things.
For the DIY enthusiasts, ECS will be showing off a AMD 990FX chipset motherboard, which will support AMD's Bulldozer processors, as well as a new series of motherboards "for cloud computing, home server, (and) work station." While they were not willing to give out details at this time, they will have live high end gaming setups for attendees to demo at the show. Further, ECS is releasing a NVIDIA GeForce 560 graphics card. Again, they did not share any specifications, they claim that their card is 40% faster than its 460 predecessor.
All-In-One PCs will also be receiving a large showing at the ECS booth, with three SKUs of their "PC—G11" touch screen computer with wireless connectivity. The DS110, MS300, and MS150 specifically will provide different levels of performance thanks to three differing levels of hardware (they mention CPUs and chipsets).
On the mobile front, ECS is unveiling two tablets. The S10 is a 10.1" Atom Z670 tablet with a resolution of 1366x768 and HDMI out along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, and "3G or GPS." The V07 is a 7" tablet based on similar specifications that will be released in August 2011. The MB40 and MB50 are 14" and 15" Sandy Bridge powered notebooks with LED displays at 1366x768 and featuring a 6-in-1 card reader. Further, ECS is debuting a 6" and 8" touch screen eBook reader with WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G. The eBook reader will feature either a monochrome or multicolor display, and will run the Android mobile operating system.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 20, 2011 - 02:04 AM | Scott Michaud
For those who desire an alternative to Windows 7 in their netbooks or Android in their tablet: The Linux Foundation, Intel, Nokia, Novell, and AMD are continuously developing an alternative mobile operating system based on Linux. While there are currently large doubts about how many participants are still active members in this project there must be someone still coding away because version 1.2 was released to the public.
- An updated Netbook “User Experience”
- An updated in-vehicle “User Experience”
- Developer preview for those wishing to install MeeGo on tablets
- And of course an updated SDK
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 18, 2011 - 05:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra, nvidia, kal-el, amazon
At the beginning of the month we reported that Amazon seems to be moving into the tablet space with an order for hundreds of thousands of touchscreens per month. There is now more evidence that the Kindle manufacturer is looking specifically to do an Android tablet due to the processors rumored to be included. We think you will be smiling very soon.
Roadrunner Stew: Water, Roadrunner, Diced Apple
Intel Talks Mobile Hardware And Shows Off 32nm Medfield Android Smart Phone At Investor Meeting 2011
Intel held its annual Investor Meeting today, where the chip maker talked software, the state of the business, as well as new hardware and leveraging microarcitecture leadership. This installment focuses on the mobile hardware aspects.
Partway through the Intel Investor Meeting 2011, David Perlmutter stepped on stage for his keynote speech. As the Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Architecture Group, he delved into the advancements that Intel has made in smaller transistor manufacturing, and how those advancements will help Intel to break into the mobile and handheld computing market with low power and high performance SoCs (System on a Chip). During the meeting, Intel stated that it has always been known for performance, but not necessarily for being low power. With their recent advancements in moving to smaller manufacturing nodes; however, Intel has positioned itself to have power efficient processors that are low power and with power to deliver a fluid user experience in mobile devices. David explains that power efficency follows along with Moore's Law in that as the transistors get smaller (and with Intel's advancements such as 3D transistors), the chips become much more power efficient. With each successive shrink in manufacturing nodes, Intel has seen higher transistor switching speeds and lower current leakage compared to previous generations:
What as these new power efficent chips amount to, is Intel's new ability to break into the mobile market and become extremely competitive with the ARM architecture(s). David showed off two examples during the Investor Meeting 2011 in the form of an Android smart phone and 7" tablet powered by 32nm Medfield mobile chips.
The Medfield powered Android smart phone.
An Intel powered Android tablet that will be available to developers soon.
The phone is a hyper threaded, 32nm Intel Medfield mobile processor that runs the Android 2.x operating system and is poised to compete with the current dual core ARM powered smart phones. A dual core version of the mobile SoC is also planned in the future. When questioned if the rumored quad core ARM smart phones would pose a problem for Intel's planned single and dual core phones, David responded that the number of cores is only one aspect of performance, and is a measurement "much like megahertz was in the '90s" and hinted not to count Intel's processors out even when competing against quad core ARM processors.
The tablet did not recieve as much attention as the concept phone; however, we do know that it is capable of running Android Honeycomb, is 7", and will be powered by a very similar 32nm Medfield chip.
Intel projects that by 2015, not only will they have passed 14nm manufacturing nodes (which are planned for 2014) but the SoCs will have 10 times the graphics and computational power as their chips released this year.
From the keynotes at this year's meeting, Intel is both enthusiastic and confident in their ability to finally dive into the mobile market in force and become a heavywieght competitior to ARM. Their plans to bring the x86 instruction set and power sipping chips to the handset and netbook markets is a bold move, but if their projections hold true may result in a massive market share increase and further innovation in an even more competitive mobile market.
Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 04:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: open source, arduino, Android
During Google IO, Google announced for their Android cell phone operating system a new Open Accessory API. This API is currently supported on Android 2.3.4 and 3.1 (Honeycomb) for cell phones and tablets respectively. This Open Accessory API is a "complete solution" of hardware and software for an Android ADK (Android Accessory Development Kit). On the hardware side of things, Google's reference design uses an Arduino board as well as USB host circuitry from Circuits@Home. using the Google ADK or Open Accessory compatible boards from Microchip and RT Corporation compatible boards, developers are able to offer hardware accessories that are able to communicate over USB (and Bluetooth in the future) to software applications.
The interesting part about Open Accessory is that when first plugging an Android phone into an Open Accessory piece of hardware, the hardware is able to indicate to the phone what software applications it needs in order to interact with and be controlled by the phone.
According to Hugo Barra, “with the ADK, we are welcoming hardware developers into the Android community, and giving a path to building great Android accessories quickly and easily.” He emphasises that the openness of Android Open Accessory means that there are no NDAs, no licensing fees, and no approval process in building the hardware or accompanying software.
Along with the ADK comes Android@Home, which is a new open wireless protocol that will allow "every appliance in your home" to communicate with your android phone.
Google wants to ramp up the imaginations of developers, and encourage them to develop new methods of notification systems and more immersive game-play. Much as the popular Parrot AR.Drone has augmented reality gaming aspects, Google wants to encourage game developers to utilize Android@Home to make their games more immersive by using the environment. During the IO presentation, they demonstrated flickering lights while playing Quake which reacted to gunfire in the game.
By choosing to go open source for not only the software but the hardware behind the Android Open Accessory API, they will enable as many people with as many ideas as possible to have a chance to develop accessories for the Android platform. This freedom of imagination will encourage innovation, and in a competitive OS market, innovation is good for the consumer.
You can read more about the Arduino and how it may affect Apple's way of dealing with third party accessories over at Make.
Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 01:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: chrome, DIY, Chromium OS
If you can't wait for someone to release a mobile PC with the Chromium OS preinstalled, then why not pick up your own laptop and install Chromium yourself? ExtremeTech walks you through the process, from finding or making a build to install and installing it on a bootable USB device to moving that installation onto an internal drive. There are links to troubleshooting sites and they reveal that the default password seems to be facepunch.
"On June 15, Samsung and Acer will release the first consumer-oriented Chrome OS laptops, or Chromebooks as Google likes to call them. Both hardware- and software-wise, these netbooks are nothing special: You can download Chrome OS's open source brother, Chromium OS, for free -- and at around $400 for a Chromebook, you would certainly expect some better hardware than what Samsung and Acer are offering.
In fact, for around $300 you can get a cheaper and more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed -- and it only takes about 30 minutes to wipe Windows and install Chrome OS yourself. You'll end up with a better and cheaper Chromebook -- and to top it off, you'll have a spare Windows 7 license that you can give to your mom."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- CyberPower's X6-9300 and MSI's GT680R: Fighting for Your Mobile Gaming Dollar @ AnandTech
- Lenovo T420: The Ultimate Business Machine @ InsideHW
- Lenovo IdeaPad U260 Review @ t-break
- Sony Vaio F-Series @ The Inquirer
- Samsung NC110-A01 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP EliteBook 8460p: Everything But The Screen @ AnandTech
- HP ProBook 6360b Review @ TechReviewSource
- Cooler Master CM Storm SF-19 Strike Force Notebook Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Targus Truss Leather iPad Case Review @ Tech-Reviews.co.uk
- Four bars? The disconnect between bars and cell signal @ Ars Technica
- LG Optimus 2X (G2x / P990) Android Phone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- HTC HD7: Now With NoDo @ AnandTech
- iPhone 4 Commuter Series Quick Look @ t-break
- iPhone 4 App Review: Type n Walk @ t-break
- HTC Incredible S: HTC at its Best @ InsideHW
- HTC Flyer review @ Engadget
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 10:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: udk, ios, game
Indie videogame developers have a great challenge keeping up with the industry. Technology is advancing quickly, the skills required to output games with the quality of the greatest developers keep diversifying, and the time required to detail each part keeps exploding. Though it is highly unlike that the next Call of Duty will come from a single person there are tool developers aiming to decrease the burden for projects of all sizes.
Do you think that was an onomatopoeia said by indie devs?
Epic Games released UDK in November 2009 to help developers make their own 3D PC games without needing to develop their own engine and associated toolset or needing to pay a hefty license fee up front. Since then, Epic has added support for iOS development to allow developers to create games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. New versions have come out on an approximately monthly basis and May is no different.
This release is incrementally better than previous builds with a few usability tweaks like grouping objects and modifying them together, the ability to copy and paste vertex coloring, and performance importing art assets. As usual a few dozen documentation pages were updated to reflect changes in the game engine. While UDK does not remove the pain of making a good game, it does soften the blow a lot, which is all we got thus far.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 06:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, conference call
NVIDIA made their quarterly conference call on May 12th which consisted of financial results up to May 1st and questions from financial analysts and investors. NVIDIA chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang projected that future revenue from the GPU market would be “flattish”, revenue from the professional market would be “flattish”, and revenue from the consumer market would be “uppish”. Huang did mention that he believes that the GPU market will grow in the future as GPUs become ever more prevalent.
How's the green giant doing this quarter? Read on for details.
For the professional market, NVIDIA discussed their intention to continue providing proof-of-concept applications to show the benefit of GPU acceleration which they hope will spur development of GPU accelerated code. Huang repetitively mentioned that the professional market desires abilities like simultaneous simulation and visualization and that a 10% code-rewrite would increase performance 500-1000%, but current uptake is not as fast as they would like. NVIDIA also hinted that GPUs will be pushed in the server space in the upcoming future but did not clarify on what that could be. NVIDIA could simply be stating that Tesla will continue to be a focus for them; they also could be hinting towards applications similar to what we have seen in recent open sourced projects.
For consumers, Huang made note of their presence in the Android market with their support of Honeycomb 3.1 and the upcoming Icecream Sandwich. Questions were posed about the lackluster sales of Tegra tablets but Huang responded stating that the first generation of tablets were deceptively undesirable due to cost of 3G service. He went on to say that the second wave of tablets will be cheaper and more available in retail stores with Wi-Fi only models more accessible to consumers.
nVihhhhhhhhhdia. (Image by Google)
The bulk of the conference call was centered on nVidia’s purchase of Icera though not a lot of details were released being that the purchase is yet to be finalized. The main points of note is that as of yet, while NVIDIA could integrate Icera’s modems onto their Tegra mobile processors, they have no intention of doing so. They also stated they currently have no intention of jumping into the other mobile chip markets such as GPS and near-field communications due to the lesser significance and greater number of competitors.
I think the new owners like the color on the logo.
The last point of note from the conference call was that they expect that Project Denver, NVIDIA’s ARM-based processor, to be about 2 generations away from accessible. They noted that they cannot comment for Microsoft but they do reiterate their support for Windows 8 and its introduction of the ARM architecture. The general theme throughout the call was that NVIDIA was confident in their position as a player in the industry. If each of their projects works out as they plan, it could be a very well justified attitude.