Ultra-cheap PC for education: 25$ gets you a very smart USB stick.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 5, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: usb computer, Education

In case you did not get enough solder for one day: you are in luck! David Braben, previously known for his work developing such games as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Thrillville, and Kinectimals, created an extremely low cost PC for educational use. His goal is ultimately to have computers like the one he created be accessible such that there would be functionally zero barriers to entry for students to pursue studying computing. A charity was created, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, under these beliefs to distribute this device hopefully sometime within the next 12 months.

Am I the only one who finds it weird that an affordable PC uses HDMI?

Given our demographic it would be blasphemous to not relay the specifications of the PC he created. The PC itself is slightly larger than a USB key in size and runs Ubuntu as its operating system though other distributions are likely possible. The processor is an ARM11 clocked at 700 MHz supported by 128MB of RAM and a GPU which supports OpenGL ES2.0 outputting at least 1080p resolutions. For connectivity it has USB port to attach to a keyboard and an HDMI port to attach to a monitor or flat screen TV. Storage is handled for by an SD card and other accessories are mountable such as the demonstrated 12 MP camera. While not explicitly listed on their site it appears as if connectivity is achieved wired via Ethernet through USB.
 
While this is obviously a low powered device its cost is only around 25$ and should be powerful enough to handle website interaction, scripting, and other educational applications. This PC and others like it should hopefully ensure that everyone has access to the internet and all of its educational, professional, and employment benefits.
Source: Geek.com
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HTC

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

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Watching today’s smartphone market brings back memories. Right now the transition from single-core to dual-core products is being made, as is a transition from older 3G networks to the latest 4G technology. I’m reminded of the excitement of the first dual-core x86 processors, as well as the rabid arguments surrounding them. 

Many dual-core phone are still “coming soon”, however, which means that single-core flagships like the HTC Thunderbolt are still able to impress. This 4.3” smartphone is everything you’d expect a premier high-end Android handset to be. As I’ll explain, that has its positive and negatives, but the specifications look great on paper.

Rumor: Amazon Tablet in 2011 looking more likely

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 4, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle, amazon

Amazon certainly has a knack for causing a ruckus in just about any industry they step into. Their inception placed them in stiff competition with bookstores and mail-order catalogs; since then they have branched out even as far as rental computing and storage, content production and publishing, and consumer electronics.

A recently rumored OEM order to Quanta Computer, already an OEM partner of RIM and Sony, proposes that Amazon is looking to beef up their portfolio to include Tablet PCs.

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Could Amazon be Kindling for a much bigger fire? 

According to DigiTimes’ accounts from an unnamed source the orders Amazon placed would be for touch screens. The source expects that units shipped would be around 700,000-800,000 units per month starting in the second half of the year. The total transaction is also expected to be worth $3.5 billion US for Quanta.
 
This rumor, if true, does not suggest which type of tablet Amazon would be up to. Currently Amazon is involved in the e-book market through their Kindle line which DigiTimes also suggests might receive a price cut to reposition itself in the market. Amazon is also currently invested in the Android platform through their Amazon Appstore for Android. They also developed an in-browser trial for Android Apps called Test Drive. This sequence of events tends to suggest that Amazon is gearing up for an Android-based tablet but does little more than just that: suggest.
Source: DigiTimes

New Gigabyte Business Notebook Is Feature Rich And Sleek

Subject: Mobile | May 3, 2011 - 02:09 AM |
Tagged: Road Warrior, laptop, gigabyte

Gigabyte recently announced in a press release a new ultra light notebook aimed at business users. More specifically, they unveiled the Gigabyte GS-AH6G3N, which is a laptop that purports to support the latest technology. According to the press release, the ultra light laptop brings to the table support for both Sandy Bridge processors and up to 8GB DDR3 RAM. A fingerprint reader and TPM module are also available for the security conscious. The 14" and less than 4.5 pound (2 kilogram) notebook is very sleek looking with sharp and clean lines detailing a dark black or silver body.

As a business notebook, it uses the Intel Mobile HM65 Express chip set, which means that you are looking at using the integrated processor graphics contained in the Core i 2xxx chips. To the road warriors' comfort, the integrated graphics should provide longer battery life while still running Windows 7’s Aero desktop smoothly. Another touted feature is the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports which will help in keeping large amounts of data backed up. An included HDMI port should help to sway business users who need to connect to projectors and large displays for their work in its favor (a VGA port is provided as well, for older projectors.)

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 The full specifications that Gigabyte list are as follows:

CPU LGA 1155 socket, Intel® Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 processor
OS Microsoft Windows 7
Display 14" LED Backlit at 1366x768 pixels
RAM DDR3 (2 slots) up to 8GB
Chipset Intel Mobile HM65 Express
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Hard Drive Sata 2.5", 9.5mm drivers.  Up to 750GB
Optical Disk Drive  (Optional) 9.5mm Super Multi DVD-RW
 I/O  2xUSB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA, RJ45, Mic-in, headphone-out, DC-in, docking connector, and 3-in-1 card reader (SD,MMC,Memory Stick)
 Audio  2x 1.5watt stereo speakers
 Communications  Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI, Bluetooth v3.0 + EDR (Wifi/BT Combo)
 Webcam  1.3 megapixel camera + microphone
 Security  Kensington lock, Fingerprint reader, and optional G-sensor and TPM
 Battery  6-cell Li-Ion 2600mAh 60WHr (claimed 7 hours of battery life)
 Dimensions  338 (W) x 235 (D) x 26.0 (H) mm
 Weight  ~2kg (with DVD drive and 6 cell battery), ~4.49 lbs
 Color  Silver / Black

 

Unfortunately for business users in the United States, Gigabyte branded notebooks can be a bit difficult to purchase as they are generally sold overseas.  Once this laptop has been on the market for a few months, they do start to trickle over into the US markets.  For overseas readers of PC Per; however, the Gigabyte notebook may be something to consider as in the end it shapes up to be a powerful but small notebook that should work well for those that need to travel light and fast for their business.

Source: Gigabyte
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design

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The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors. 

Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games. 

According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life. 

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Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.

Acer laptop, double the monitors hold the keyboard

Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2011 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: laptop, dual lcd, acer

The Acer Iconia 6120 is a little like a Nintendo DS, in that where you would expect input buttons you have another LCD.  Powered by an Intel Core i5 480M, an HM55 with IntelHD graphics powering the two 14" 1366 x 768 displays.  Benchmark Reviews demonstrates using it as both a dual display laptop and as a laptop screen and a touchscreen keyboard.  Check it out.

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"We've seen little innovation in laptop design in the last few years. Most companies seem to think that using a brushed aluminum finish or adding Intel's latest mobile CPU is all they need to do to freshen a product line. Still, Acer's not the first company to introduce a laptop with dual screens; the short-lived Toshiba Libretto W100 comes to mind, and gScreen Corporation's Spacebook has been touted since 2009, although it's still not available at the time of this writing. The Acer Iconia 6120, though, is a computer you can buy right now. Its dual screens offer new capabilities but come with some drawbacks as well. Benchmark Reviews takes a look at this unique laptop to see if it's worth your consideration."

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Mobile

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ultra-portable laptop

Subject: Mobile | April 27, 2011 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: ultra-portable, Thinkpad, Lenovo

Lenovo has added a laptop to their ultra-portable notebook lineup.  The ThinkPad X1 features a Core i5 2520M CPU, 8GB of RAM, 160GB SSD and a 13.3-inch screen made from Gorilla Glass with a 1366x768 resolution. All of those features in a small 0.84-inch-thick package. The ThinkPad X1 also included a good keyboard and the great build quality we come to expect from the ThinkPad brand.

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The bad news is the ThinkPad X1’s battery is sealed, meaning you will not be able to remove it yourself but the good news is the battery comes with a 3 year warranty and has a few replacement options. The battery can be replaced at a repair depot or Lenovo will have an on-site technician can come to replace the battery as early as the next business day. Lenovo clams the ThinkPad X1’s RapidCharge battery will last three times as long and will charge to 80% within 30 minutes.

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With all of features the ThinkPad X1 has. Is it worth the $2900 price tag? You can buy a 13-inch MacBook Air for $1299 but, it’s unfair to judge the two of them by price alone because of the differences in processor, memory and hard drive size. Is a faster processor, more memory, larger SSD and a better battery warranty worth the extra cost?

Source: zdnet

Hot pink Atom and Ion love; the new Eee PC 1215N

Subject: Mobile | April 26, 2011 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: atom, ion, asus

If you hadn't noticed the pink laptop in the carousel, it is Matt Smith's newest review for PC Perspective and is right up the alley of anyone looking for an inexpensive and light mobile PC.  With a 1.8GHz Atom D525 and NVIDIA ION 2 graphics it can perform light duties but is not a heavyweight in any sense of the word.  Unfortunately for the 1215N, Matt has found another model that does more work for less money, read on to see which competitor beat it.

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"Should you buy the Eee PC 1215N? That depends on your priorities. There are much quicker laptops of similar size priced between $100 and $200 more, and in terms of bang-for-your-buck, they make more sense. The 11.6” Acer Timeline X with the Core i3 processor is one great example. However, the ASUS Eee PC 1215N has advantages over many such competitors."

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Gaming

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS
Tagged: netbook, ion, eee pc, atom, asus

Introduction and Design

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You don’t hear much about Atom these days. It’s still there, still kicking, still being stuffed inside an endless stream of netbooks. Yet it’s also not very exciting, and hasn’t created much buzz. This isn’t a case of a journalistic blind spot; Atom just hasn't been update. The original was released in 2008, but Intel hasn’t released a major performance upgrade since. By comparison, the performance of mainstream mobile laptop processors has, in some benchmarks, doubled over the same time-span.  The processor performance of Atom, measured relative to the power of an average $600 laptop with a Core i3 dual-core, is actually becoming worse over time. 

Yet Atom has still dominated the laptop market because of one reason; there was no other alternative. For the first time, however, that’s changing. AMD has released its Fusion APUs, and we recently reviewed two different laptops with two different versions of that technology – the single-core E-240 in the Toshiba Satellite C655D and the dual-core E-350 in the Sony Vaio Y.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Sony

Introduction and Design

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Tech journalists are finicky beasts. A few years ago we were washing netbooks in praise, declaring that they promised a new era of accessibility and portability for the PC. But now the tables have turned – tablets have usurped the throne of “cool new thing” and tech news is all too eager to declare the netbook little more than a passing trend, soon to be booted out of the market by glorious touchscreen slates.

The truth, however, is not as extreme has the headlines suggest. Netbooks are another boring reality that won’t be going anywhere soon, despite declarations of death and injury.  But I can understand why they’ve lost the limelight. The improvements made to netbooks over the last three years have been incremental at best. While battery life has gradually grown, performance has barely moved. Intel, lacking competition from AMD, has had little reason to improve its Atom processors. 

Now AMD has finally brought an Atom competitor to the market in the form of its Fusion APUs. We already reviewed one laptop powered by Fusion, the Toshiba Satellite C655. That laptop, however, was equipped with AMD’s single-core E-240. It provided performance roughly on par with a dual-core Atom system we tested in 2010, but ultimately fell a bit shot of our expectations.