Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 19, 2013 - 08:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, gs70, gaming laptop
Laptops have been evolving towards thin, light, efficient, and powerful... enough for web browsing and that is about it. The internet is a popular thing, go figure, and many manufacturers are nervous about marketing a laptop or tablet which does much beyond that. Razer took a bit of a gamble with their Blade and Edge line of laptops and tablets, respectively, but they have since shown promise.
Now MSI has not been a stranger to gaming laptops. While not as popular in North America, although they are gaining traction, they are experienced in this market. Perhaps bringing along Steelseries, a main competitor of Razer, might increase your chances? At the very least, you will probably have an epic keyboard.
The GS70 Stealth "ultra gaming notebook" combines an Intel 4th Generation Core i7 with an NVIDIA GTX 765M, up to 16GB of RAM, and a pair of SSDs into a 17.3" aluminum-magnesium alloy case. Also present, Creative Labs SoundBlaster Cinema audio and a Killer ethernet connection.
The SteelSeries keyboard is backlit in whatever color you desire. Each button has been rearranged in a unique order that I have yet to see; some keys, such as numpad 0 and right shift, to crush the number pad in with the main keyboard which effectively provides many of the benefits of a tenkeyless design.
A final note, albeit an important one, is their addition of multiple video outputs. Through "Matrix Display", three 1080p displays can be connected in addition to the built-in 1080p monitor. Certain users could set up a multi-monitor workstation at their desk for this laptop to dock into.
Check out MSI's press blast for more information -- except for the all important pricing and availability, those are currently unknown.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 17, 2013 - 03:58 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, Windows 3.11
Remember the time where Microsoft would only succeed on their third attempt? Did you ever wonder where Microsoft lost their way, instead stuck with some semi-regular sequence of alternating good and terrible? I cannot tell you at what point we lost the magical third version, it left unannounced about a decade ago, but Windows 3 will be its earliest popular example. Windows 3.11 for Workgroups eclipsed the then dominant Apple and helped put a computer in every office.
Image, Linux Foundation via The H Open.
Even Linus Torvalds, the creator and lead maintainer of the Linux Kernel, referred to the notoriety of Windows 3.11 with Linux heading toward 3.11. That version of Linux is now developed under the codename, "Linux for Workgroups". Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux, can be seen waving a retro-fashioned Windows flag. Perhaps in a few decades when they reach version 6, Tux can learn to play the tuba... or some other type of... long... horn.
A little luck is what Linux requires to become adopted by the home PC market. Unlike Windows 3, Linux has been a great operating system for decades. The real problem with Linux is branding, many equate the OS with command-line inputs, or believe that it does not welcome proprietary software into its open gates. Clearly, both statements are untrue: Linux is the foundation for Android and many other popular graphical UIs, and one can easily be against selling a software's right to exist without being against selling the software itself. Otherwise, very few critiques can be justified against Linux.
Readers: What is your favorite "wait for version 3" example, with or without Microsoft?
Subject: Systems | July 17, 2013 - 12:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vision m35, velocity micro, FX-9590, FX-9370, amd, 5ghz
Boutique system manufacturer Velocity Micro has announced its new Vision M35 gaming desktop powered by AMD’s latest FX-9000 series processors.
The Velocity Micro Vision M35 can be configured with a variety of hardware components on the company’s website. The system can be housed in a number of traditional Velocity Micro cases with internal hardware that includes either an AMD FX-9370 or an AMD FX-9590 processor, up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM, both SSDs and HDDs in various capacities, and up to a 1200W power supply. Graphics card options include a number of cards from both AMD and NVIDIA’s latest series (AMD 7000, NVIDIA 600/700). By default, the Vision M35 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows 8 x64, but users can elect to install Windows 7.
The AMD FX-9000 series processors are the real news here, and Velocity Micro is among the first boutique vendors to use them. As a refresher, the FX-9370 and FX-9590 are 8-core processors with 16MB of cache based on the company’s Piledriver micro-architecture. The FX-9370 has a base clockspeed of 4.4 GHz and a turbo clockspeed of 4.7 GHz while the FX-9590 comes clocked at 4.7 GHz base and 5.0 GHz turbo. Despite being aimed at the enthusiast crowd, these chips will only be available to OEMs and system builders and not as retail parts.
The new AMD-powered Velocity Micro Vision M35 is available now online with a base price of $2,799. I was able to configure a M35 with the following specifications for $3,169 (and managed to get a quote of $2,969 after a $200 off coupon selectable on the configuration page).
- Velocity Micro QX-W chassis
- 850W power supply
- AMD FX-9590 CPU
- 8GB DDR3 RAM
- AMD Radeon 7950 GPU
- 120GB Intel 520 SSD
- 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive
- Integrated GbE and audio
- (No keyboard or mouse or other accessories selected)
Granted, its on the pricier side, but its not a bad system as far as pre-built boutique PCs go. And for AMD fans, systems like this (and these) are going to be the only official option for getting a FX-9590 processor.
Subject: Systems | July 16, 2013 - 01:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, TWKR, piledriver, FX-9590, FX-9370, Centurion, amd
If you are looking for an AMD system you can really brag about then the arrival of FX-9590 powered systems at popular retailers like NCIX and system builders like Puget Sound and CyberPower. Clocked at 5GHz stock it is the highest frequency consumer CPU on the market and as long as you can tame the 220W TDP you might be able to take the chip even higher. Not every retailer has listed their new systems at the time of posting but right now you can pick up a GENESIS system from Origin that sports a watercooled FX-9590 and depending on your choices the GPU(s) can be watercooled as well.
Velocity Micro also has a system ready for purchase and the Gamer Scorpius 9500 from Cyberpower will be ready in the very near future. As you are unlikely to see these CPUs for sale in retail boxes this may be your only chance to get a hold of one of these chips. The prices of the systems will vary widely depending on what components you want inside but keep in mind that you are buying a completely build and thoroughly tested machine with a warranty so don't dismiss these systems without comparing the pricing to what you would pay to build a machine yourself.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 07:09 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, dell
Dell has announced that within the next few weeks, it will be unleashing a refreshed version of the XPS 12 convertible ultrabook (tablet/notebook). Although the base price will be increased by $100, the refreshed tablet features Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processor, a NFC radio, and a larger battery.
Specifically, Dell will be releasing at least three new XPS 12 SKUs. The lowest-end refreshed model includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This ultrabook/tablet SKU has an MSRP of $1,199 and is an update to the original base model with an MSRP of $1,099.
Dell's XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook (Tablet)
Beyond the starter version, users can upgrade the CPU and memory to an Intel Core i5-4500U and 8GB of DDR3 for $200 more ($1,399 MSRP).
Finally, users can take the $1,399 model and upgrade the storage to a 512GB solid state drive (SSD). This version of the XPS 12 has a MSRP of $1,999.
Dell claims that the updated ultrabook has up to 1.6-times the performance and 2.5 hours more battery life (8 hours, 43 minutes) thanks to the move to Haswell CPUs and a larger 50Wh battery respectively. Of course, the original XPS 12 used Ivy Bridge CPUs and 47Wh batteries. The new models have started shipping and will be available for purchase around the end of July.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | July 15, 2013 - 02:09 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox, xbox one
Two weeks have passed since Steve Ballmer informed all Microsoft employees that Don Mattrick would disembark and pursue a career at Zynga for one reason or another. Initially, Ballmer himself was set to scab the void for an uncertain amount of time, further unsettling the upcoming Xbox One launch without a proper manager to oversee. His reign was cut short, best measured in days, when he appointed Julie Larson-Green as the head of Microsoft Devices and Studios.
... because a Christmas gift without ribbon would just be a box... one X box.
Of course the internet, then, erupted with anxiety: some reasonable concerns, even more (predictably) inane. Larson-Green has a long list of successfully shipped products to her name but, apart from the somewhat cop-out of Windows 7, nothing which resonates with gamers. Terrible sexism and similarly embarrassments boiled over the gaming community, but crazies will always be crazy, especially those adjacent to Xbox Live subscribers.
Operating Systems will be filled by Terry Myerson, who rose to power from the Windows Phone division. This could be a sign of things to come for Windows, particularly as Microsoft continues to push for convergence between x86, RT, and Phone. I would not be surprised to see continued pressure from Microsoft to ingrain Windows Store, and all of its certification pros and woes, into each of their operating systems.
As for Xbox, while Julie is very user experience (UX)-focused, division oversight passed to her long after its flagship product's lifetime high-level plans have been defined. If Windows 7 is any indication, she might not stray too far away from that which has been laid out prior her arrival; likewise, if Windows 8 is any indication, a drastically new direction could just spring without notice.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android
CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.
The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.
CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.
Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.
The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.
- 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 1 x Micro SD card slot
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)
The rear of the PC hosts:
- 1 x DC power input
- 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.
A 27-in Table PC
While foraging through the land that is Las Vegas during the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show, we ran into Lenovo and they showed us a unique PC design they were calling the "Table PC". The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is a 27-in All-in-One design that is finally available in the market and brings some very interesting design decisions and use cases.
At its heart, the IdeaCentre Horizon is a 27-in 1920x1080 display with an AIO PC design that includes some pretty standard Intel-based Ultrabook-style hardware. That includes an Intel Core i5-3337U dual-core processor, a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX GT620M graphics processor, a 1TB 5400 RPM HDD and 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory.
But this computer is much more important than simply the hardware it is built around. Built to switch between a standard AIO configuration but allows for a fold-down, multi-user interface with custom software for interaction, the Horizon attempts to bring life to low-cost computers built for more than one user at a time.
From a physical perspective, the IdeaCentre Horizon has the normal and expected design cues. There is an HD webcam up top for Skype calls, touch-based buttons for volume and brightness, indicator lights for drive usage, power states, etc.
The 1920x1080 10-point touch screen on the Horizon was nice, but not great. For a 27-in display that you are going to be interfacing with very closely, the pixel density is definitely lower than our 1080p 21-in touch screen AIO floating around the office. There were some minor glare issues as well, even with the Lenovo "anti-glare coating" while using the Horizon in the fully laid down, flat position.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 12, 2013 - 02:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, Nano, Ivy Bridge, Intel, hd 4000
Zotac has announced three new ZBOX Nano SKUs that utilize Intel’s 3rd Generation “Ivy Bridge” processors and HD 4000 processor graphics. The new SKUs include base and PLUS models of ID63, ID 64, and ID65 mini PCs.
The tiny PCs continue to use the ZBOX Nano form factor of approximately 5 x 5 x 1.8 inches. The front of the small form factor (SFF) PC holds two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, two audio jacks, LEDs, and a power button. The rear of the ZBOX Nano PCs features an external antenna for Wi-Fi along with the following IO.
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x eSATA
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
The PC comes with a VESA 75/100 mount for wall mounting or attaching to the back of a monitor.
Internal specifications include an Intel Core i3 3227U (dual core at 1.9GHz), Core i5 3337U (dual core at 1.9GHz base, 2.7GHz turbo), or Core i7 3537U (dual core at 2.0GHz base, 3.1GHz turbo) processor depending on the specific SKU. The base barebones ZBOX Nano PCs support a single DDR3 SO-DIMM (up to 8GB 1600MHz) and a single 2.5” hard drive.
Zotac’s ZBOX Nano Plus units bundle in 4GB of DDR3 and a 500GB hard drive. Zotac also includes a “nanoRAID” adapter that will allow users to switch out a traditional 2.5” storage drive for two mSATA drives. The adapter supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 options as well.
Pricing and availability for the new ZBOX Nano SKUs has not been announced yet, but the mini PCs should be up for sale soon.
The decision to release new models with Ivy Bridge processors instead of Intel's latest Haswell CPUs is a bit strange, but the SFF PCs have likely been in the making and testing phase for a while. I expect Haswell-powered versions to be released at some point in the future but for now the Ivy Bridge models will offer up more performance than previous ZBOX Nano units.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 9, 2013 - 06:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: laptop, Lenovo, Thinkpad, haswell, Intel, windows 8
A new ultrathin laptop for business users has appeared on Lenovo’s website. Called the Lenovo ThinkPad T440S, it is an Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell"-powered machine running Windows 8.
The ThinkPad T440S features a magnesium and carbon fiber chassis that is 21mm thick. It has a full size, spill resistant, keyboard with multimedia function keys, a TrackPoint, and a multi-touch trackpad. The T440S has a 14” display with optional multi-touch and a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
This laptop will start at 3.5 pounds. It can be configured with two 3-cell batteries with one internal and one removable battery. In this configuration, users can swap out the removable battery for a spare without powering down the system (a technology Lenovo calls Power Bridge). Other features include a 720p webcam with dual noise canceling mics.
IO includes three USB 3.0 ports, one Mini DisplayPort and one VGA video output, and a SD card reader. The T440S also comes equipped with an NFC radio.
Unfortunately, additional specifications and pricing data is not yet listed on the Lenovo site. If you are a business user in need of a thin and light laptop, keep a lookout on this product page for more information as the laptop gets closer to release.
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