CES 2014: Gigabyte Aorus Brand Launches with X7 Slim Gaming Notebook

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: x7, gigabyte, gaming notebook, CES 2014, CES, aorus

An interesting development that popped out of CES this year was the announcement of a new brand from Gigabyte, Aorus, focused on gaming peripherals and a gaming notebook.  The gaming notebook was particularly impressive as it was able to pack in a ton of high-end hardware in an ultra-slim design that should rival the likes of MSI and Razer.  

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The Aorus X7 weighs in at 6.4 pounds and just 0.9 inches think but is powered by an Intel Haswell 4th Generation processor and a pair of GTX 765M GPUs running in SLI.  Storage options include a pair of mSATA ports for RAID-0 and a 2.5in hard drive (up to 1TB).  

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For connectivity the X7 includes USB 3.0 x3, USB 2.0 x2, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort,  and an SD card reader.  Four SODIMM memory slots allow for upgrades up to 32GB.  For a slim gaming machine and an estimated 3DMark score of P7393, the X7 looks damned enticing. 

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The Aorus X7 will be available this month at Newegg.com and should be priced starting at around $1500.

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CES 2014: ARM and Huawei Show First True 8-Core Smartphone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, arm, Huawei, mediatek, 8 core

While clearly the need for an 8-core smartphone is still a debate, the enablement of hardware partners like Huawei, Mediatek and ARM are creating an ecosystem that enables the software developer to stretch their legs and innovate.  While wandering around CES we ran into the Huawei G750 smartphone, the first to be powered by a true 8-core (octa-core) processor.

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This phone likely isn't going to find its way to the US market but the design was solid and the user interface, as you would expect, was snappy and smooth.  This processor from Mediatek, the MT6592, has the ability to run all 8 Cortex-A7 cores at the same time when the needs arise.  Rather than go with the big.LITTLE design route Mediatek instead include 8 of the "little" cores in this design.

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Each core is capable of clocking in at 2.0 GHz (though this Huawei model seems to cap at 1.7 GHz) and MediaTek claims that this allows support for 4K high bit-rate H.264 video playback as well as H.265 and VP9 playback.  

The concern of a "core race" in the mobile market is definitely real though you have to be impressed by the drive for hardware vendors to improve capabilities.  Now we just need to be sure that the software ecosystem and the power management designs are keeping up.

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CES 2014: MSI Previews the Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, msi, 290x, radeon, amd, Lightning, R9 290X

The MSI Lightning series of graphics cards continues to be one of the best high end enthusiast lines available as we have seen with our reviews of the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning and the R7970 Lightning.  At CES this week in Las Vegas the company was showcasing the upcoming card in the series based on the latest AMD Hawaii GPU.

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The MSI R9 290X Lightning features an updated triple cooler design and heat pipe cooler that appears to be truly impressive.  If the weight of the card is any indication, this GPU should be running considerably cooler than most of the competition.  

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MSI has included a dual BIOS option, updated Military Class 4 components and hardware but be prepared to sacrifice three slots of your motherboard to this monster.  Power requirements are interesting with a pair of 8-pin power connectors and a single 6-pin connector, though the 6-pin is going to optional.

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The power of the card still comes from AMD's latest R9 290X Hawaii GPU, so you can be sure you'll have enough gaming power for just about any situation.  We implored MSI to make sure that the overclocks of this card, probably in the 1050-1100 MHz range, are maintained consistently through extended game play to avoid any awkward variance discussions. 

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CES 2014: Oculus Rift Prototype... Because Seeing Dots is a Symptom of NOT Throwing Up?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 03:35 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, CES, CES 2014

Ryan awaited his Oculus Rift eagerly right from the time he placed his Kickstarter donation. He was able to use the device for a few minutes at QuakeCon and last year's CES but he wanted to game for longer sessions to get feel for it. As it turned out, a few minutes in to an Unreal Tournament 3-based demo, he felt the onset of motion sickness.

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Image Credit: Oculus via Ars Technica

The company was at this year's CES with a new prototype called "Crystal Cove". This version looks somewhat like a mocap suit on your face, with various white dots to be recognized by a camera. The thought seems to be that motion capture techniques are lower latency and maybe even more precise than the motion sensors alone. That, combined with the OLED screen's new policy of quickly presenting frames for only a couple of milliseconds, is supposed to make a world of difference in terms of blurriness and nausea.

There are still concerns with the Oculus as a shipping product, however. When your eyes are covered by screens you are subjecting yourself to sensory deprivation. It may be immersive but it does not replace the reality that your body exists within. The cat may be at your feet even if it is not in your virtual world. This will obviously be less of an issue when combined with the Omni treadmill (or similar device) because it keeps your body in a defined space.

Still, advances seem to happen even more quick than a yearly basis. What do you expect the state of Oculus will be at next year's CES?

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: Kyle Orland (Ars Technica) Tries Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: CES 2014, CES, valve, Steam Controller

Valve has garnered a lot of hype leading up to this CES. This event was the launch of Steam Machines from their OEM partners. The line-up for their keynote speech was intense, Ryan tweeting in the crowd a whole half of an hour before the speech. Finally, at 7:59 pm EST, Gabe begun to speak... and taking questions by 8:02. Included below is a dramatization of the event.

Yes, I know, "Simpsons did it..."

... South Park probably did it too.

As previously reported, thirteen OEM designs were presented and available to discuss their product. Steam controllers came up during the question period and brought out a pretty big detail: while Valve will be making the Steam Controller, other manufacturers will be allowed to make their own. Currently release date and expected price are still unknown.

Some journalists actually got their hands on the official Steam Controller and they, naturally, shared their thoughts. Kyle Orland of Ars Technica was one of them and his opinion was quite literally split down the middle. On the one hand, pun fully intended, aiming felt about as comfortable and effective as a mouse. On the other hand, movement in legacy mode was aggravating without any tactile feedback signaling where any of the eight directions (up, down, left, right, and the diagonals) start and end.

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Again, this opinion only stands for shooter-style games in "Legacy Mode". Developers can use the controller more effectively when they design their title for the actual API. Legacy mode maps controller input to mouse and keyboard events and signals.

He also had other comments (positive and negative) about the button layout and other aspects of the controller. It might be worth checking out if you keep in mind: it is early times and he only had a few minutes to base his opinion.

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: ADATA shows new PCIe SSD and unique OTG flash drive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: PCIe SSD, OTG, CES 2014, CES, adata

ADATA will be rolling out their own PCIe SSD, this solution opting for the SF3700 controller due out later this year. Their demo produced the same 1.8 Gb/sec sequential read speed we saw over at Kingston earlier today:

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While the above solution is SF3700-equipped M.2 adapted to standard PCIe by a ustom PCB, ADATA was also showing an operational PCB which had the components direct mounted:

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Note the heat sink to help dissipate the heat produced by the SF3700. We hope the heat output will be optimized as development of this new controller progresses.

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We also saw a unique spin on the OTG-style USB flash drive we'd been seeing all around CES this year:

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Instead of having a common center containing the flash memory, they have made the center section into more of an adapter to bridge the super-small USB drive (right) across to the micro-USB port (left). An advantage of this format is that you could use the same adapter to bridge pretty much any standard USB flash drive over to an Android device.

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CES 2014: Plextor launches M6e PCIe SSD (and a sneak peek)

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:02 PM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, M6e, CES 2014, CES

This morning Plextor launched their new M6e PCIe SSD. Their press blast appears after the break, but before you do so, check out the pics we grabbed earlier today:

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The M6e is essentially an interposer board that simply interfaces the Marvell controller / Toshiba flash M.2 PCIe SSD to a standard desktop class PCIe connector. This solution is slower than the upcoming SF3700 solution being implemented by Kingston and ADATA, but this product is shipping now, while the SF3700 will not be production ready for at least another six months time.

Full press blast appears below:

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CES 2014: Kingston shows PCIe SSD, comfy headsets, DDR4, and gaming seats

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: SF3700, Predator, OTG, Need For Seat, kingston, CES 2014, CES

We swing by Kingston this morning to see what was cooking. Here we go:

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OTG compatible dual micro / standard USB drive that's physically a tiny bit smaller than the Corsair model we saw yesterday.

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This was probably the most comfortable headset I've ever put on. The padding is real leather wrapped over memory foam, and the arms are aluminum for durability. It really didn't feel like it was on at all, aside from the reduction in background noise from the room, assisted by the denser memory foam.

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Here is a reference Intel chassis populated with a whopping 384GB of DDR4-2133.

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This modules were populated with Hynix DDR4 modules.

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...and this staggering speed and capacity was able to be run by the reference board in multi-channel mode. That's a serious amount of RAM running at a serious speed. Speaking of things running at serious speeds:

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Here is the Kingston HyperX Predator, a PCIe SSD. The unreleased LSI SandForce SF3700 is capable of 1.8 GB/sec as it is a native PCIe implementation. The only catch is we will have to wait until mid-late 2014 for these to launch. Kingston is ready, but SandForce is not. Here is the 2.5" version of the same, demonstrating that the SF3700 is also capable of configuring for a SATA 6Gb/sec link:

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We also saw some cool looking "Need For Seat" office / gaming chairs. They were fairly comfortable, and the backs pivot nearly flat, just like the seats in your car:

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In addition to differing looks, each model has a different cushion layout, so I recommend trying to sit in the one you intend to buy prior to doing so.

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CES 2014: Firefox OS to Power Panasonic Smart TVs

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 04:18 AM |
Tagged: Panasonic, mozilla, Firefox OS, CES 2014, CES

Firefox OS is a thin Linux layer which immediately loads Gecko, the rendering engine behind Firefox and other Mozilla products, to handle everything else. The entire OS interface is developed in HTML5, CSS, Javascript, and other web standards. It suffices to say that it can handle web apps very easily (it is one).

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Panasonic and Mozilla have entered into a partnership, announced at CES, for future smart TVs to be powered by Firefox OS. This can be very useful for Panasonic. Provided they keep up with certifying new releases, performance should be about the only other barrier preventing their product from running the popular apps as they arise. It also lifts the burden away for developer support.

On the other hand, this could also be good for Firefox OS and the web itself. Mozilla is not a stupid organization and, while they certainly like their products adopted, I would not be surprised if they hope this effort brings content out to play. Netflix and other content providers who want to be on Panasonic's platform would need to support their flavor of Firefox OS. Netflix, in particular, has already made inroads with HTML5 albeit with certain encryption extensions.

Atwood's Law applies to televisions, too!

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Source: Panasonic

CES 2014: Razer Project Christine & Nabu... Because CES.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 03:30 AM |
Tagged: razer, Project Christine, Nabu, CES 2014, CES

Razer has a long history of announcing odd products at any given CES. Some of those products win prestigious awards such as Best of Show. A few of them also never see the light of day. This year, the company has two major announcements: a wristband computer called "Razer Nabu" and a modular computer concept called "Project Christine". The last one feels more like their April 1st announcements.

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First: the wristband. The Razer Nabu (isn't it ironic that the god of wisdom and writing is a homonym of JarJar's home planet) is said to be somewhere between a Nike+ FuelBand and a smartwatch. Track the number of steps you take, calories you burned, floors you climbed by stairs, distance you traveled, hours you slept, and do some stuff with location data. They can sense one another, if someone nearby is also wearing theirs, and optionally share information. It is also expected to connect to Razer Comms at some point. It is unclear how many of these applications can be done directly with the device and how many require an Android or iOS smartphone nearby.

Razer is currently accepting requests from developers looking to purchase the device for $49 USD. That may or may not be the final consumer price for whenever it makes a real launch.

The other product is a little less, concrete.

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Project Christine reminds me of that period where the tech world went nuts over the thought that Apple would design a modular Mac Pro. The thought is that you could swap modules in and out for upgrading purposes with peace of mind that you never need to open anything. Everything is external connections to black boxes. Razer seems to have taken that idea and run with it. Suffices to say, I am highly skeptical. I can think of about a dozen complications ranging from bandwidth to inventory to relative need compared to other solutions.

Sure, it looks cool, but just think about it (if it ends up being a legitimate project rather than a CES talking point). Are you really going to have Razer versions of every possible upgrade SKU? Would you really save anything over a custom solution or paying someone to do the technical work?

Interesting thought experiment, if nothing else, but I would be fairly shocked if we even see this mentioned again more than 8 months from now.

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Source: Razer