Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 11, 2014 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: webgl, tegra k1, nvidia, geforce, Chromebook, Bay Trail, acer
Today Acer unveiled a new Chromebook powered by an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. The aptly-named Chromebook 13 is 13-inch thin and light notebook running Google’s Chrome OS with up to 13 hours of battery life and three times the graphical performance of existing Chromebooks using Intel Bay Trail and Samsung Exynos processors.
The Chromebook 13 is 18mm thick and comes in a white plastic fanless chassis that hosts a 13.3” display, full size keyboard, trackpad, and HD webcam. The Chromebook 13 will be available with a 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution panel depending on the particular model (more on that below).
Beyond the usual laptop fixtures, external I/O includes two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI video output, a SD card reader, and a combo headphone/mic jack. Acer has placed one USB port on the left side along with the card reader and one USB port next to the HDMI port on the rear of the laptop. Personally, I welcome the HDMI port placement as it means connecting a second display will not result in a cable invading the mousing area should i wish to use a mouse (and it’s even south paw friendly Scott!).
The Chromebook 13 looks decent from the outside, but it is the internals where the device gets really interesting. Instead of going with an Intel Bay Trail (or even Celeron/Core i3), Acer has opted to team up with NVIDIA to deliver the world’s first NVIDIA-powered Chromebook.
Specifically, the Chromebook 13 uses a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, up to 4GB RAM, and up to 32GB of flash storage. The K1 offers up four A15 CPU cores clocked at 2.1GHz, and a graphics unit with 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores. Acer rates the Chromebook 13 at 11 hours with the 1080p panel or 13 hours when equipped with the 1366x768 resolution display. Even being conservative, the Chromebook 13 looks to be the new leader in Chromebook battery life (with the previous leader claiming 11 hours).
A graph comparing WebGL performance between the NVIDIA Tegra K1, Intel (Bay Trail) Celeron N2830, Samsung Exynos 5800, and Samsung Exynos 5250. Results courtesy NVIDIA.
The Tegra K1 is a powerful little chip, and it is nice to see NVIDIA get a design win here. NVIDIA claims that the Tegra K1, which is rated at 326 GFLOPS of compute performance, offers up to three times the graphics performance of the Bay Trail N2830 and Exynos 5800 SoCs. Additionally, the K1 reportedly uses slightly less power and delivers higher multi-tasking performance. I’m looking forward to seeing independent reviews in this laptop formfactor and hoping that the chip lives up to its promises.
The Chromebook 13 is currently up for pre-order and will be available in September starting at $279. The Tegra K1-powered laptop will hit the United States and Europe first, with other countries to follow. Initially, the Europe roll-out will include “UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.”
Acer is offering three consumer SKUs and one education SKU that will be exclusively offering through a re-seller. Please see the chart below for the specifications and pricing.
|Acer Chromebook 13 Models||System Memory (RAM)||Storage (flash)||Display||Price MSRP|
|CB5-311-T9B0||2GB||16GB||1920 x 1080||$299.99|
|CB5-311-T1UU||4GB||32GB||1920 x 1080||$379.99|
|CB5-311-T7NN - Base Model||2GB||16GB||1366 x 768||$279.99|
|Educational SKU (Reseller Only)||4GB||16GB||1366 x 768||$329.99|
Intel made some waves in the Chromebook market earlier this year with the announcement of several new Intel-powered Chrome devices and the addition of conflict-free Haswell Core i3 options. It seems that it is now time for the ARM(ed) response. I’m interested to see how NVIDIA’s newest model chip stacks up to the current and upcoming Intel x86 competition in terms of graphics power and battery usage.
As far as Chromebooks go, if the performance is at the point Acer and NVIDIA claim, this one definitely looks like a decent option considering the price. I think a head-to-head between the ASUS C200 (Bay Trail N2830, 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, and 1366x768 display at $249.99 MSRP) and Acer Chromebook 13 would be interesting as the real differentiator (beyond aesthetics) is the underlying SoC. I do wish there was a 4GB/16GB/1080p option in the Chromebook 13 lineup though considering the big price jump to get 4GB RAM (mostly as a result of the doubling of flash) in the $379.99 model at, say, $320 MSRP.
Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!
Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2014 - 06:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, memo pad ME176C, android 4.2.2, Bay Trail
Powered by a Bay Trail Atom Z3745, 1GB LP DDR3-1066, 16GB eMMC, with support for up to a 64GB SD card and a 7" 1280x800 IPS display the ASUS Memo Pad ME176C is rather impressive for under $150. Shipping with Android 4.2.2 or 4.4 the Memo Pad is not quite as powerful as NVIDIA's new tablet but is nowhere near as expensive either. The Tech Report rather liked this device, as did Ryan; for those on a tight budget the new Memo does just about everything you need for basic usage at an acceptable level of performance.
"Despite its $149 asking price, Asus' Memo Pad ME176C tablet has a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 7" IPS display, and little extras like a Micro SD slot and GPS functionality. We take a quick look at this budget slate to see how well Android runs on x86 hardware--and whether a $149 tablet can deliver a good experience."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- EVGA Tegra NOTE 7 & ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T Review @ Neoseeker
- Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ Android Tablet @ Benchmark Reviews
- Festival tech: Leading the charge @ The Inquirer
- Patriot Fuel+ Mobile Rechargeable Battery Review @ HiTech Legion
- Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 Review @ Legit Reviews
- Nokia Lumia 520 Smartphone Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 02:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, netbook, Bay Trail
According to DigiTimes we may see a resurgence of netbooks, this time powered by Bay Trail which will make them far more usable than the original generation. There are three postulated tiers, the $200-250 range of 10.1-15.6" models and $250-400 or $400-600 in 11.6-17.3" which will make them larger in size than the original generation which failed to attract many consumers. They are currently scheduled to ship with Bay Trail-M with future models likely to have Braswell inside in a mix of transformer style 2 in 1's with touchscreens and more traditional laptop designs. You can expect to see a maximum thickness of 25mm and a mix of HDD and SSD storage on these and we can only hope that the estimated pricing is more accurate than the pricing on Ultrabooks turned out to be.
"For the US$199-249 notebooks, Intel and Microsoft's specification preferences are 10.1- to 15.6-inch clamshell non-touchscreen models using Intel's Bay Trail-M series processors or upcoming Braswell-based processors, which are set to release in the second quarter of 2015."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- GOG.com Announces Linux Support @ Slashdot
- FCC Reminds ISPs That They Can Be Fined For Lacking Transparency @ Slashdot
- Apple to become largest client for TSMC, say sources @ DigiTimes
- Oracle releases its 'unbreakable' homebrew Oracle Linux 7 @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all @ The Register
- FRIKKIN' LASERS could REPLACE fibre-optic comms cables @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2014 - 12:45 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, transformer book, T200TA, Atom Z3775, Bay Trail, leak
A post on the German site Mobile Geeks gives us the stats on the ASUS Transformer Book T200TA, a Bay Trail powered that appears to sport the normal docking tendencies of the Transformer Book line up. It is rumoured to be powered by a Bay Trail Atom Z3775 which can reach 2.39GHz at full speed with 2GB of memory, WiFi, local flash storage of up to 64GB. The outputs include USB 3.0, microUSB 2.0 port, HDMI and even without the optional dock you get SD card reader. The dock can raise your local storage to 500GB and likely extend the battery life.
Product may not be exactly as shown
In many ways, the Google Nexus 7 has long been the standard of near perfection for an Android tablet. With a modest 7-inch screen, solid performance and low cost, the ASUS-built hardware has stood through one major revision as our top selection. Today though, a new contender in the field makes its way to the front of the pack in the form of the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C). At $150, this new 7-inch tablet has almost all the hallmarks to really make an impact in the Android ecosystem. Finally.
The MeMO Pad 7 is not a new product family, though. It has existed with Mediatek processors for quite some time with essentially the same form factor. This new ME176C model makes some decisions that help it break into a new level of performance while maintaining the budget pricing required to really take on the likes of Google. By coupling the MeMO Pad brand with the Intel Bay Trail Atom processor, the two companies firmly believe they have a winner; but do they?
I have to admit that my time with the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) has been short; shorter than I would have liked to offer a truly definitive take on this mobile platform. I prefer to take the time to work the tablet into my daily work and home routines. Reading, browsing, email, etc. This allows me to filter though any software intricacies that might make or break a purchasing decision. Still, I think the ASUS design is going to live up to my expectations and is worth every penny of the $150 price tag.
The ASUS MeMO Pad 7 has a 1280x800 resolution IPS screen. This 7-inch device is powered by the new Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core SoC with 1GB of memory and 16GB of on-board storage. The front facing camera is of the 2MP variety while the rear facing camera is 5MP - but you will likely be as disappointed in the image quality of the photos as I was. Connectivity options include the microUSB port for charging and data transfer along with 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi (sorry, no 5.0 GHz option here). Bluetooth 4.0 allows for low power data sync with other devices you might have and our model shipped with Android 4.4.2 already pre-installed.
The rear of the ASUS MeMO Pad is a pseudo rubber/plastic type material that is easy to grip while not leaving fingerprints behind - a solid combination. The center mounted camera lens takes decent pictures - but I can't put any more praise on it than that. It was easy to find image quality issues with photos even in full daylight. It's hard to know how disappointed to be considering the price, but the Nexus 7 has better optical hardware.
Subject: Mobile | May 24, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, ips display, Intel, Bay Trail
Lenovo made the previously-rumored ThinkPad 10 tablet official earlier this month. The business-friendly tablet starts at $599 and will be available in a couple of weeks. Lenovo has packed in quite a bit of hardware into a 10-inch aluminum chassis to create a device capable of up to 10 hours of battery life (productivity not guaranteed).
The official ThinkPad 10 specifications closely match the previous rumors, but we do know a few more finer details. In particular, Lenovo has gone with an aluminum shell hosting a 10.1” 1920x1200 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch (and Gorilla Glass technology), two cameras (2MP webcam and 8MP rear camera), an optional digitizer pen, and a number of docking options.
Fans of handwriting recognition will be pleased with the confirmation of a digitizer while typists will be able to pair the 10-inch tablet with a keyboard dock. Lenovo is also offering a Quickshot cover accessory which is a soft screen cover/case that has a corner that can be easily folded to reveal the camera (and performing this action automatically opens up the camera app).
The tablet dock (which doubles as a charger) is a docking station that adds two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one Ethernet port. On the other hand, the keyboard dock has an angled slot for the ThinkPad 10 to sit in (there is no angled hinge here) and features a physical keyboard and small trackpad.
Finally, if you are more into the Microsoft Surface-style touch keyboard, Lenovo offers a case with an included touch-sensitive keyboard (keys with no physical actuation).
Internally, the ThinkPad 10 uses a Bay Trail Atom Z3795 SoC, either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of (eMMC 4.5.1) internal storage. Internal radios include 802.11n, Bluetooth, and cellular (3G and 4G LTE). The tablet itself has a micro HDMI video output, micro SD card slot for storage, and a single USB 2.0 port.
All decked out, you are looking at an aluminum-clad tablet weighing less than 1.4 pounds running the full version of Windows 8.1 that starts at $599 for the tablet itself. The four optional accessories (the docks and cases) will cost extra (see below). Note that the touch-sensitive keyboard case and a ruggedized case will be made available later this summer following the June launch of the tablet and other options.
The $599 price ($728 with keyboard) may scare away consumers wanting an entertainment device, but business users and content creators with frequent travel needs (see our own Ryan Shrout) will appreciate the niche features, battery life, and build quality.
For those curious, the accessory costs will break down as follows:
- Ultrabook Keyboard: $129
- Tablet Dock: $119
- Quickshot cover: $59
- Rugged Case: $69 (available later this summer)
- Touch Case: $119 (available later this summer)
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 09:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, Chromebook, Bay Trail
Asus has launched two new chromebooks based around Intel's Bay Trail SoC and running Google's Chrome OS. The new models are the 11-inch Chromebook C200 and the 13-inch Chromebook C300. The new devices are clamshell-style laptops with hidden display hinges, a plastic cases with a matte finish to reduce fingerprint visibility, chiclet keyboards, and large trackpads supporting multi-touch guestures. Asus' new Chromebooks will be available in June starting at $249.99 for the base C200 laptop.
The Asus Chromebook C200 is an 11-inch laptop with an 11.6" display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 720p webcam, stereo speakers, chiclet keyboard, and a trackpad that is reportedly as large as those "normally found on a 14-inch laptop." External IO includes an SD card, HDMI port, a microphone/headphone audio combo jack, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.
The Asus Chromebook C200.
From there the Chromebook C300 takes that platform and places it in a larger 13" chassis. The display size is increased to 13.3" but maintains the same 1366x768 resolution. The other difference is in color palete: the C200 is silver and dark grey while the C300 is completely dark grey. The C200 weighs 2.5 pounds and is 0.8" thick while the C300 weighs 3.1 pounds and is slightly thicker at 0.9".
Internally, the C200 and C300 feature a dual core Intel Celeron N2830 Bay Trail-M SoC clocked at 2.16 GHz (2.41 GHz Turbo Boost) with 1MB of cache, Intel HD Graphics, and a 7.5W TDP. In addition to the SoC, Asus is packing in 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. Asus did not provide a mAh battery rating, but both Chromebooks reportedly last up to 10 hours of average usage before needing to be charged.
The Asus Chromebook C300.
Storage can be extended via an SD card and by taking advantage of 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage which Asus provides free for two years. The upcoming Chromebooks support dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Both the Chromebook C200 and Chromebook C300 will be available in the US at the end of next month starting at $249.99. The company has not yet released pricing for the larger C300, however.
Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Chromebox, Chromebook, Chromebase, chrome os, Bay Trail
Intel hosted an event on Chrome OS today where the company discussed its partnership with Google and announced new Chrome devices based on the company's latest generation Haswell and Bay Trail processors.
Intel continues to work with Google to develop the Chromebook and the company sees potential for Chrome OS devices to expand to additional markets outside of consumer and education. Specifically, Intel and Google are pushing into the commercial markets by working with OEMs to put together devices aimed at corporate customers as productivity machines, video conferencing boxes, and drivers of customer kiosks and digital signage.
In addition to the expansion to new markets, the existing consumer and education markets continue to grow with the use of Chromebooks in schools doubling versus last quarter with 10,000 schools now employing the Google-powered hardware. Consumers have also pushed Chromebooks to the top six of Amazon charts with the Acer C720 having 4.4 out of five stars and over a thousand customer reviews.
Chrome OS is not only expanding into other markets but to additional form factors in the form of Chrome Boxes and Chrome Bases which are small form factor desktop systems and All-In-One devices powered by Chrome OS respectively. The second half of this year will see the number of Chrome OS devices expand from four design choices by four OEMs to twenty design choices from at least nine OEMs.
The upcoming Chrome OS devices will be powered by new processor options from Intel in the form of conflict-free Intel Haswell Core i3 CPUs and Intel Bay Trail SoCs. The Haswell Core i3 option is an upgrade over the Pentium and Celeron "Entry Level Haswell" parts and offer increased performance in offline computing tasks, app switching, and multi-tasking. The Bay Trail parts will enable passively cooled (fan-less) Chromebooks with around 8 hours (up to 11 hours+) of battery life while still offering up acceptable performance for watching videos or working with documents. Intel further claims that the Bay Trail powered Chromebooks will be thinner at less than 18mm and up to 15% lighter than existing models.
An 11.6" Chromebook powered by an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor coming later this year.
Intel showed off several new Chrome OS products that will be coming later this year. The new Chromebooks include Haswell i3-powered laptops from Acer and Dell for $349, the Lenovo N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome powered by an Intel Celeron (Bay Trail) SoC, and the Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design which CTL will bring to market later this year. It was also revealed that the already-announced Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook with its Yoga-style hinge will actually use a Bay Trail SoC.
The Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design is a platform designed by Intel that other OEMs can take, tweak, and bring to market. It is a clamshell-style laptop with a rotating camera and ruggedized chassis aimed at students.
Intel's reference platform is a ruggedized clamshell laptop aimed at students.
Laptops and tablets dominated the show, but the company did unveil a tiny new Chrome Box from HP (slated for availability in June) that can sit behind a computer display or be used to drive digital signage and customer kiosks.
Further, Intel demonstrated a new Chrome OS form factor with what it calls a "Chrome Base." The first Chrome Base is coming from LG later this month as a 21" All In One computer running Chrome OS for $349.
Chrome OS in general is expanding from traditional clamshell laptops to larger screens and alternative form factors (desktop, tablet, convertible, et al), and when asked about the future of touch on Chrome OS and the overlap between Android and Chrome OS Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management at Google, explained that the company feels that touch is a key aspect in the computing experience and that Google is interested in supporting and improving touch on Chrome OS and evaluating customer use on alternative form factors. Further, Mr Sengupta stated that Google is focusing on Chromebooks, Chrome Boxes, and the new All In One Chrome Bases with physical keyboards for Chrome OS while Android is focused on mobile phones and touch-based tablets. As OEMs introduce more touch-friendly and acrobatic hinged Chrome devices, there is likely to be some overlap, but ultimately decisions affecting the directions of the two OSes will be based on customer demand.
Google also used the event to announce that within the next few weeks users will be able to play movies and TV shows offline using the Google Play Movies Chrome app.
Overall, the event demonstrated that Chrome OS is growing at a healthy pace. Devices using the cloud-friendly operating system will be in 20 countries by the end of this year (versus 9 currently), and the new x86 processor options will enable a smoother user experience and faster application performance. I am genuinely interested to see where OEMs are able to take Chrome OS and what it is able to do as Google continues development of the software.
If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of the live stream on the Intel website.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Chrome device news as the hardware gets closer to release.
Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad tablet, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, Intel, Bay Trail
Details on a new 10-inch tablet from Lenovo emerged following a product page being posted on the Lenovo Australia site prior to an official announcement. The page was quickly taken down, but not before German technology site TabTech snagged all of the details and photos of the new ThinkPad branded mobile.
The leaked ThinkPad 10 joins the existing ThinkPad 8 tablet which was first shown off at CES 2014 earlier this year. The business-focused device runs x86 hardware and the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system. The ThinkPad 10 sports rounded edges, a hefty bezel, (and if it follows the ThinkPad 8) a machine cut aluminum back panel with ThinkPad branding. The front of the device hosts a 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 2MP webcam, and Windows button. The top corner of the tablet hosts an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. Exact dimensions and weight are still unknown.
Internally, Lenovo is using a quad core Bay Trail SoC clocked at 1.6 GHz, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage. If the ThinkPad 8 is any indication, the base models should start with 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a Wi-Fi chip. From there, users will be able to choose versions of the ThinkPad 10 with more memory, more storage, LTE cellular data connections, and stylus options.
Additionally, the ThinkPad 10 will support basic covers, basic docks that allow it to be used in tent mode, keyboard docks, and keyboard cases. Unfortunately, the keyboard dock does not appear to latch onto the tablet, and once docked the screen cannot be rotated further like with devices like the Transformer T100 and upcoming Aspire Switch 10. With that said, from the information available so far, I am interested in the ThinkPad 10 from a mobile productivity standpoint (I have been on the fence on getting a T100 for months now, heh). If Lenovo can maintain ThinkPad quality in this tablet and the keyboard options, I will definitely be considering it.
With the ThinkPad 8 starting at $399 for the WiFi-only model with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage, users can expect the ThinkPad 10 to start at least $499. Unfortunately, as with most product launches and leaks, official pricing and availability are still unknown.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details on the ThinkPad 10. In the meantime, check out our video of the ThinkPad 8 to get an idea of the aesthetics and performance of the upcoming Windows 8.1 tablet!
Subject: Processors, Mobile | April 30, 2014 - 07:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, clover trail, Bay Trail, arm, Android
While we are still waiting for those mysterious Intel Bay Trail based Android tablets to find their way into our hands, we met with ARM today to discuss quite few varying topics. One of them centered around the cost of binary translation - the requirement to convert application code compiled for one architecture and running it after conversion on a different architecture. In this case, running native ARMv7 Android applications on an x86 platform like Bay Trail from Intel.
Based on results presented by ARM, so take everything here in that light, more than 50% of the top 250 applications in the Android Play Store require binary translation to run. 23-30% have been compiled to x86 natively, 20-21% run through Dalvik and the rest have more severe compatibility concerns. That paints a picture of the current state of Android apps and the environment in which Intel is working while attempting to release Android tablets this spring.
Performance of these binary translated applications will be lower than they would be natively, as you would expect, but to what degree? These results, again gathered by ARM, show a 20-40% performance drop in games like Riptide GP2 and Minecraft while also increasing "jank" - a measure of smoothness and stutter found with variances in frame rates. These are applications that exist in a native mode but were tricked into running through binary conversion as well. The insinuation is that we can now forecast what the performance penalty is for applications that don't have a natively compiled version and are forced to run in translation mode.
The result of this is lower battery life as it requires the CPU to draw more power to keep the experience close to nominal. While gaming on battery, which most people do with items like the Galaxy Tab 3 used for testing, a 20-35% decrease in game time will hurt Intel's ability to stand up to the best ARM designs on the market.
Other downsides to this binary translation include longer load times for applications, lower frame rates and longer execution time. Of course, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is based on Intel's Atom Z2560 SoC, a somewhat older Clover Trail+ design. That is the most modern currently available Android platform from Intel as we are still awaiting Bay Trail units. This also explains why ARM did not do any direct performance comparisons to any devices from its partners. All of these results were comparing Intel in its two execution modes: native and translated.
Without a platform based on Bay Trail to look at and test, we of course have to use the results that ARM presented as a placeholder at best. It is possible that Intel's performance is high enough with Silvermont that it makes up for these binary translation headaches for as long as necessary to see x86 more ubiquitous. And in fairness, we have seen many demonstrations from Intel directly that show the advantage of performance and power efficiency going in the other direction - in Intel's favor. This kind of debate requires some more in-person analysis with hardware in our hands soon and with a larger collection of popular applications.
More from our visit with ARM soon!