CES 2014: SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive at Storage Visions

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:04 PM |
Tagged: wireless, sandisk, flash, CES 2014, CES

While at Storage Visions I checked out the new SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive. This is a flash drive capable as also doubling as a wireless network storage device - and it can do so under it's own power for 3-4 hours.

I really like the idea of such a device. Need several people to access the stuff on your drive? Click one button and you can! It charges off of the same USB connection used to connect it locally (i.e. the 'old school' way). Here's a closer view:

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CES 2014: A quick word with Samsung on SSD Magician, Firmware Updates, and Full Drive Encryption

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: SSD Magician, Samsung, CES 2014, CES

While at Storage Visions, I had a quick word with Chris Geiser of Samsung. Over the past few weeks there have been updates to 840 (PRO / EVO) SSD Firmware as well as to their SSD Magician software. These updates enable increased performance as well as full drive encryption (with no performance loss whatsoever). Check out the video below for full details:

So long story short, if you own these drives, consider updating your Magician Software, SSD firmware, and start protecting your data with full drive encryption. As always with any firmware upgrade, even though Samsung updates are non-destructive, it's a good idea to back up first regardless.

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CES 2014: Lenovo All-In-Ones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, all-in-one

Apple was famous for cramming as much PC hardware into a monitor as possible. At first, when the monitor was CRT-based, it looked weird. As monitors thinned, the computers became more classy. Leave it to the PC industry to fight over the smallest of details in order to get an edge over their competition. Several companies have been trying out various permutations of that idea and they sometimes hone in on one or more niches. Lenovo has four of these all-in-one PCs: the Horizon II, the N308, the A740, and the C560 Touch.

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The Lenovo Horizon II is up first. We reviewed the original Horizon and Ryan enjoyed it for the 2 hours of battery life he was able to surf the web on. He found the tabletop design very fun to play Monopoly with friends on. Its performance was not too bad either (although Battlefield 3 and Bioshock Infinite are no-gos). The Horizon II gives the option of a resolution boost from 1080p to 1440p and, if you are not feeling particularly attached to your money: options for a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 840A.

Maybe Battlefield is now... on the table... snicker snicker.

The Aura interface has been updated to version 2.0 and it interacts with phones via NFC. Speaking of mobile, the battery life is now expected to reach 4 hours per charge which would double what Ryan experienced if accurate. The Horizon II is also thinner and lighter with a weight of just 15.4 lbs which is over 3 lbs more light than the 18.95 lbs of the original Horizon.

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The Lenovo N308 is a step in a different direction. This Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 device includes an NVIDIA Tegra quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM. It has up to 3 hours of battery life and is a slightly more portable 19.5 inches (1600x900). It is still 10 lbs, though. It also has a gravity sensor which is great if you are playing a motion control game on this thing. No option for a wrist strap which is a blessing and a curse, I guess, when you're slinging around a 20-inch tablet? I think this is one of those things that will make more sense in person. Prices start at $449.

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The Lenovo A740 is more like a typical all-in-one computer. Monitor, stand, up to a Core i7 processor, up to a GeForce GTX 800 series GPU, 1TB HDD. The 27-inch display has a 1440p resolution and 10-finger touch sensor. The stand can also dip significantly which allows for 100 degrees of tilt. Prices start at $1499.

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Last, but not least, is the C560 Touch All-in-One PC. Starting at $549, it is Lenovo's budget all-in-one. It has a 23-inch 1080p touchscreen albeit one that can only track 5 fingers (which is still probably more than enough). You can give it up to 8 GB of memory and 2 TB of storage. All of this can be driven by a Haswell processor up to a Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce 705A 1GB GPU. The system is loaded with Windows 8.1. Nothing special with the stand. It stands up straight and looks interesting.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo ThinkPad and ThinkVision Products

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES

The professional line of products from Lenovo includes: a 28-inch 4K display, another 28-inch 4K display which moonlights as an Android tablet, a proper tablet powered by Bay Trail, and a laptop which might crack a smile from fans of the Optimus keyboard. If any of these devices gets your attention then you might be glad to know that each of them is under $1300 base price.

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I don't want to believe that it's just a badly Photoshopped "simulated image"... but...

First up is the ThinkVision Pro2840m 4K Display which is a professional-grade 28-inch 3840x2160 monitor for $799. The image gets me excited for the thin bezel although a separate press deck (seen below) shows a visibly different monitor, with the same model number, having a more-standard border. Cross your fingers and hope that it looks more like the above image than the one below. I find it doubtful, however, but I digress either way.

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... it is probably a significantly larger bezel.

Lenovo does not mention the panel type but they advertise a 5ms response time and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It has a 10bit color depth and a 72% color gamut which I am hoping refers to Adobe RGB which puts it roughly on par with my Wacom Cintiq 22HD. It could be 72% sRGB coverage, though, which would be problematic (especially for a professional panel).

Note that contrast ratio claims are messed with constantly. Most of these million-to-one claims are measured at separate times and often in separate environments. There have been tales of "black measurements" being taken in laboratory-controlled dark rooms with the panels off and white values recorded directly against the backlight. Static contrast ratios, measured with a black and white checkerboard pattern, are often not too far away from 1000:1. Plasma and OLED panels can get significantly better, however.

lenovo-think-02.jpg

Up next is the ThinkVision 28 Smart 4K Display. While it is also a 28-inch 3840x2160 monitor, it also has an integrated NVIDIA Tegra processor. This is basically a 28-inch Android 4.4 (KitKat) tablet, which can also be your computer monitor, for $1199.

Lenovo carefully wrote Latest Nvidia Tegra processor and ThinkVision 28 is expected to launch in July. This would be a year after the Tegra 4 launch and right around the rumored launch window of Logan (Q2 2014). This could be a launch-window release for the next Tegra. If so, this would be Android powered by Kepler.

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On the topic of tablets: the ThinkPad 8. Lenovo's idea of an 8.3-inch 1080p business tablet is one powered by Bay Trail for x86 support backed by up to 8 GB of RAM. Because it support x86, it is preloaded with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office. You can choose between 32, 64, and 128 GB of SSD storage and then later insert a MicroSD card for more storage. Prices are expected to start at $399.

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Lastly: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This 14-inch Ultrabook has voice and gesture control along with a programmable touch strip. The touch strip is quite interesting: it is a long, narrow, and apparently flexible LCD touchscreen. As programs open and close, its hotkeys will change accordingly. They do not say whether the user can control these or whether they are using baked profiles but, regardless, it is an interesting step.

The laptop itself has up to 8 GB of RAM, up to 512 GB of SSD storage, Haswell-based processors, and up to a 2560x1440 IPS display. Only Wireless-N is possible but it also integrates NFC for some reason. The battery allows for 8 hours on a single charge and, in under an hour of being plugged in, it is full again. Its GPU is the built-in GT3 which is Intel HD 5000 graphics. Prices start at $1299 (although one slide says $1199).

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 2) Y40 & Y50 Touch (with optional 4K), Z40 & Z50

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, GeForce 800M, CES 2014, CES, 4k

For the lover of a more conventional clamshell laptop, Lenovo has four models announced at CES. They do not need a special hinge to avoid the ho-hum. Some of these models have options for GeForce 800-series mobile and Radeon M200-series graphics. Some have options of 802.11ac (and others have it standard). One of the four even includes an option for a 4K panel.

Did I get your attention? Read on.

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The Lenovo Y40 and Y50 are their gaming class notebooks with relatively high-performance components. The aesthetic is sort-of flat edges and bevels which looks pretty crisp. The dimensions and weight "start at" under an inch thick and 5.3lbs. Options will be available up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1TB hybrid hard drive with 8 GB of SSD caching. It also appears as if 802.11ac wireless comes standard. You have a choice between 14-inch and 15.6-inch Full HD screens or, for the Y50, you can bump the resolution up to 3840x2160 for some mobile 4K.

The Y50 can be powered by as much as an Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor and an NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB GPU. This graphics solution is currently unannounced but rumors (just rumors) claim it will have about 1.4 TeraFLOPs of performance from 960 shading units. This puts it a little bit behind the Xbox One in terms of peak shader performance however it is also laptop graphics. If the rumors hold true it should be just slightly behind a GeForce 650 Ti. Perhaps we will learn more as CES continues.

Prices start at around $500.

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The Lenovo Z40 and Z50, on the other hand, are their more mainstream laptops. Still, they are capable of upgrades up to an Intel Core i7 with GeForce 800-series graphics. They can include up to 16 GB of RAM and up to a 1TB HDD (with extra options for 8GB SSD caching). The laptop comes default with 802.11 b/g/n but can be upgraded to 802.11ac if desired. They come standard with a 1080p touchscreen display.

More interestingly, prices start at just under $400 (although clearly with less RAM, CPU, and GPU than the up to listings). Lenovo claims you can have "up to Windows 8.1" which makes me wonder if Windows 7 options will be available. That could be interesting if true.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 1) MIIX 2 10 & 11, Yoga 2 11 & 13, Flex 14D & 15D

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 2, MIIX, Lenovo, Flex, CES 2014, CES

On the third of January, Lenovo unveiled the line-up of smartphones which they will present at CES. The company is best known for PCs, however, and they obviously have plenty of those at the show as well. This post will cover three unconventional laptop announcements which borrow a little bit of design from the tablet universe.

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The Lenovo MIIX 2 10 is a 10.1-inch detachable computer which integrates an Intel Atom quad core processor. This model does not list its RAM options but I expect 2 GB (although 4 GB is possible). Since it uses an Intel Atom processor, it includes Windows 8.1 (and not Windows RT like those based on ARM SoCs). Lenovo claims 8-hour "All-day" battery life. Prices start at $499.

The MIIX 2 11 is a similar detachable computer with an 11.6-inch 1080p screen. More than just the screen size changes, however, as its processor gets a significant boost up to a Core i5 1.6 GHz backed by 8 GB of RAM. SSD capacities will range from 64 GB up to 256 GB. The price for this one starts a few hundred dollars north of the 10-inch model at $799 and up.

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The Lenovo Yoga 2 is also available in 11 and 13-inch models. The Yoga is known for its hinge between the screen and the body (and, specifically, its wide range of options). You will be able to use it as a standard clamshell notebook or flip it around and use the keyboard as a stand for the touchscreen. If you want to go all the way, you can also open the hinge so that the back of the monitor touches the back of the keyboard and use it as a standard tablet. The two models vary significantly in specifications above and beyond the size of the screen.

The Yoga 2 11 is built around an 11.6-inch 1366x768 IPS touchscreen and includes an Intel Bay Trail processor. Because it is an x86-based processor, it will run Windows 8.1. Again, Lenovo does not mention the RAM choices available for the Bay Trail version. Storage will be available in either a 500GB hard drive with 16GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, potentially a 256GB SSD. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices should start in the mid-$500s USD.

The Yoga 2 13 is built around a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen. The processor is a Haswell-based Core i5 backed by up to 8 GB of RAM. Storage will be either a 500GB hard drive with 16 GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, a 256GB SSD. Unlike the 11-inch, the 13-inch model will also include a backlit keyboard. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices for the 13-inch model start at $999.

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The Lenovo Flex is like a Yoga that did not do as much Yoga as the Yoga. They cannot bend entirely backwards to become a tablet but they can flip 300 degrees to become a stand-up tablet. They can also be used as a standard touchscreen laptop in clamshell mode.

The Flex 14D is a 14-inch 1366x768 touchscreen with up to 8GB of RAM and an AMD APU up to an A6-5200. Lenovo also claims that you will be able to choose up to an HD 8570 GPU (which might be discrete). For storage, you will have the choice between a 1 TB HDD or a 500 GB SSHD with 16 GB of SSD caching. You can also opt for a backlit keyboard. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life and, of course, full Windows 8.1.

The Flex 15D, unlike the trend from the Yoga and MIIX series, is very similar to the 14D. The main difference is the 15.6" touchscreen with the same resolution (1366x768). Prices for this line start at under $500 USD and range up to about $800 USD.

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PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Gigabyte Hosting Extreme Overclocking Event

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 3, 2014 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: overclocking, gigabyte, CES 2014, CES, brix

Gigabyte will be hosting the 2014 CES Extreme Overclocking Event in Las Vegas next week. The event will see overclocking talent such as Hicookie and Dinos22 (and other overclockers from around the world) attempt to break world overclocking records on the company's Z87X-OC motherboards The event is sponsored by Gigabyte, Intel, G.Skill, and Enermax who will respectively provide Haswell Core i7 processors, DDR3 memory modules, and power supplies.

CES 2014 Gigabyte Extreme Overclocking Event.jpg

If you are headed to CES or live in the area, the event will be held on January 6th from 2pm to 7pm at the Caesar's Palace Convention Center in the Octavius Ballroom (rooms five and six). The address is as follows:

Caesar’s Palace Convention Center

Octavius Ballroom 5 & 6

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard

Las Vegas, NV 89109

Attendees can expect to see overclocking competitions, attempts at world records, and a large showcase of Gigabyte products which will be on display. Food and refreshments will be available as well.

As mentioned, in addition to overclocking, Gigabyte will be showing off its latest motherboards and compact BRIX computers. Motherboards include the Z87X-OC, Z87X-UD7-TH, G1.Sniper, and Mini ITX F2A88XN-WiFi. On the mini PC front, Gigabyte is showing off the BRIX Pro (Intel i7 4770R with Iris Pro Graphics 5200) and BRIX Projector (75 lumen LED backlit projector and stereo speakers) machines.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES 2014 news as it develops.

Will you be attending the 2014 CES Extreme Overclocking event?

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Gigabyte

CES 2014: Lenovo Smartphones - Vibe Z, A859, S930, S650

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 2, 2014 - 05:01 AM |
Tagged: Vibe Z, S930, S650, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, A859

Lenovo is the leading PC manufacturer worldwide. They have been doing things consistently right in that industry and it shows with year-over-year growth in an otherwise global decline. At the same time, they have been attempting to carve their segment in the smartphone industry. They will bring four models to this year's CES ranging in price from $200 up to $550. Each phone is expected to be available this year.

The Vibe Z is their first LTE phone and the highest performance of all the models the will bring to CES this year. The phone itself weights slightly less than a third of a pound and is also slightly less than a third of an inch thick. The 5.5-inch full HD screen (400 PPI) is, of course, based on IPS technology which is common to phones because of the wide viewing angles they encourage.

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Lenovo Vibe Z

Lenovo calls a 5.5-inch 400 PPI screen, "20/20 Vision Display". Of course that overlooks several assumptions and unknown variables in much the same way as Apple's "Retina" moniker does. 400 PPI is great but does not directly relate to human vision.

The Vibe Z (starting at $549) will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC backed with 2 GB of RAM. Up to 16 GB of persistent storage will be included. It will include two cameras: a wide-angle 5 MP front camera and a 13 MP rear camera with a maximum aperture of f1.8. This is a wide ratio which should significantly assist low light performance when depth of field blur is not a problem (or when it is desired for a soft background effect). The phone will use Android 4.3 and Google Play.

Interestingly, the phone will also integrate 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0. There should be plenty of bandwidth to stream HD videos from media servers around the house.

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Lenovo S930

The S930 (starting at $319) and the S650 (starting at $229) will be based on Android 4.2 and feature a quad core 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek (likely MT6582) backed by 1 GB of RAM. Both will contain dual SIM card slots and an 8 MP rear camera. They are less than a millimeter more thick than the Vibe Z. Both contain 8 GB of storage.

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Lenovo S650

The S930 and S650 diverge from there. The S930 has a 6-inch 720p screen and two speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. The S650 has a 4.7-inch screen at a resolution of 960x540 and no mention of speakers (although it probably has one). The S650 also has a microSDHC storage slot allowing for up to 32 GB of expansion.

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Lenovo A859

The last phone is the A859 (starting at $219). This 5-inch 720p phone is a slightly larger than the others. It also contains a 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek and 1 GB of RAM. It has 8 GB of internal storage which can be expanded by up to 32 GB with a microSDHC card. It will be powered by Android 4.2.2.

Expect to see more from Lenovo as CES coverage continues.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

It's Internet Explorer Tan (Not Ten) & I Don't Understand It.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | November 7, 2013 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, IE11, AFA 2013

Marketing decisions at Microsoft can be... different. If you include internal videos, you might see Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in a Volkswagon parody ad. They abandon a Sun workstation on the side of a road with trash. I guess electronics recycling was not a thing back then.

The large white characters over the big monster at the end, "つづく", means "[to] be continued".

Expect more of these (perhaps at Anime Festival Asia?)

Internet Explorer Tan mixes the weirdness of Microsoft with the peculiarity of Anime culture. Inori Aizawa (藍澤 祈) is the semi-personification of Internet Explorer. The character describes herself as slow, clumsy, and awkward when she was younger. She stars in a two-minute cartoon created, apparently internally, by Microsoft Singapore. They snuck in more than a few subtle references.

For a bit of humor, her first name (, given names follow family names in Japanese) is romanized to Inori (祈り) as above. That word means "prayer" (and without the suffix, "praying" apparently). Again, this was created internally by Microsoft.

And, you know what? I believe that a well maintained Internet Explorer, if Microsoft can successfully focus on devices and services, will be their grace. Trident (IE's rendering engine) caught up to the standards-compliant ones and, if they continue to push the pack forward, can sell devices on its great experience. The other browsers need Internet Explorer to keep them innovating just as much as IE needs them.

It makes me smile. That could be my brain stuck in a bootloop, but it makes me smile. Almost every frame I look at has a reference to something. Still don't really understand it though.

Source: Microsoft

(The Verge) Valve's Steam Machine and Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | November 4, 2013 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Machine, steam os, CES 2014

I guess The Verge, with its Steam Machine photos, prove all three next-gen consoles (trollolol) are designed to look like home theater devices. Of course you will never be able to purchase a Steam Machine from Valve but, since they are releasing their CAD files, I am sure at least one Steam Machine will be exactly to reference spec.

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Image Source: The Verge

And, for the record, I think the reference enclosure is classy. Living room appliances suit a lot better than kitchen ones.

On a serious note: pictures of the internals. The beta Steam Machines will contain full desktop components aligned in such a way that each has its own sector to breathe from. The hottest parts intake and exhaust as far away from one another as possible. This makes the chassis relatively wide and short: a video card's length, in depth; about 3 expansion slots, tall; and about 3 PCIe cards height, wide. The actual measurements are 12" x 12" x 3" (W x D x H).

Steam-Machine-Open.jpg

Photo Credit: The Verge

This is mostly possible because the GeForce Titan GPU is mounted upside-down and parallel with the motherboard. I have never experienced a 90-degree PCIe extension slot but, according to Josh Walrath, this is a common accessory in servers (especially 1U and 2U racks). The Titan intakes downward into a relatively unoccupied section of the case and exhausts out the back.

The Verge also had some things to say about the Steam Controller. The design motivations are interesting but I will leave that discussion to the original article (this news post will be long enough when I'm done with it). There are two points that I would like to bring up, though:

The first is a clarification of the original Steam Controller announcement: Valve will produce and sell Steam Controller on its own. This was originally a big question mark as it could water down how "reference" Valve's controller actually is. With Valve taking all-the-reins, the hardware looks more set in stone.

Will Valve still allow OEMs to learn from their design? Who knows.

The second is also interesting.

What Valve left out of the Steam Controller is almost as intriguing as what went in. Though Valve co-founder Gabe Newell told us that the company wanted to put biometric sensors into game controllers, the team discovered that hands weren't a good source of biofeedback since they were always moving around. However, the team hinted to me — strongly — that an unannounced future VR headset might measure your body's reaction to games at the earlobe. Such a device could know when you’re scared or excited, for instance, and adjust the experience to match.

Seeing Google, Valve, and possibly Apple all approach content delivery, mobile, home theater, and wearable computing... simultaneously... felt like there was a heavy link between them. This only supports that gut feeling. I believe this is the first step in a long portfolio integrating each of these seemingly unrelated technologies together. We should really watch how these companies develop these technologies: especially in relation to their other products.

Stay tuned for CES 2014 in early January. This will be the stage for Valve's hardware and software partners to unbutton their lips and spill their guts. I'm sure Josh and Ryan will have no problems cleaning it all up.

Source: The Verge