Introduction, Hardware Vendors
This year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Trade Show brought together many small and global companies with computer hardware and information technology backgrounds as well as creative industries that produce art, music, and movies. SXSW interactive badge holders and showcased artists got an inside look at the newest innovations in mobile social media platforms and applications, open source web content management systems, professional audio/video technologies, and other multimedia products.
Since I write for PC Perspective, I narrowed the focus of my trade show coverage to companies creating innovative computer hardware, PC and Mac peripherals, and other gadgets that may interest our readers. I also scoured the rest of the trade show for the best booth babes handing out swag and watching other fun, promotional events to get expo visitors to engage with companies to find out more about their products.
See our video coverage of the SXSW Trade Show!
Subject: Mobile | March 13, 2012 - 01:10 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: widi, ultrabook, ssd, Ivy Bridge, asus zenbook, asus
The Asus UX31 and UX21 have been two popular examples of ultrabooks. Interestingly, they have been available for purchase for less than 6 months and we are already hearing that the company is planning a refresh with upgraded hardware! The two new ultrabooks will be dubbed the UX21A and UX31A and will replace the UX21 and UX31 respectfully while maintaining the same weight and dimensions.
The original UX21 ultrabook
Among the new internal hardware updates, Asus will be moving to Ivy Bridge processors, up to 4 GB of low voltage DDR3 1600 memory, and an alleged 512 GB SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD (solid state drive) option. The Ivy Bridge processors in question will be pulled from Intel's low voltage mobile CPU range and will sport a 17 watt TDP (thermal design power). The Core i3 3217U, Core i5 3317U, and Core i7 3517U will all be configurable options and carry the following specs.
|Model||Cores||Hyper Threading||Cache (L3)||Clockspeed||Turbo Boost (1core / 2cores)|
|Core i3-3217U||2||Yes||3 MB||1.8 GHz||None|
|Core i5-3317U||2||Yes||3 MB||1.7 GHz||2.6 GHz / 2.4 GHz|
|Core i7-3517U||2||Yes||4 MB||1.9 GHz||3.0 GHz / 2.8 GHz|
The new Zenbook ultrabooks will include two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI port, and an SDXC card reader. Wireless connections will further include 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel's WIDI wireless display streaming technology. The new UX31A will have the option of a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display with a brightness rating at 350 nits or a non IPS (possibly TN) LCD with 300 nits brightness that maxes out at a 1600 x 900 resolution. The smaller UX21A also has the option for a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display; however, the non IPS LCD option's resolution will max out at 1366 x 768, coincidentally just enough to do the 1/3, 2/3 side by side Metro application split in Windows 8.
Lastly, they estimate the battery life of the 13" UX31A and 11" UX21A ultrabooks to be around "six to seven hours" and five hours respectively. Once Ivy Bridge processors have launched and other notebook vendors start shipping their Ivy Bridge powered machines, Asus will reportedly start selling the updated Zenbooks for prices starting at $1,050 and $1,100 for the UX21A and UX31A respectively.
A nice hardware update without jacking up the price too much and likely making the older models cheaper? Sign me up! Are you looking forward to more ultrabooks this year?
Subject: Mobile | March 12, 2012 - 08:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, ssd, asus zenbook, asus
The SSD Review stumbled upon a dirty little secret about the ASUS Zenbook SSD; specifically the SSD part of the name. It seems that when you buy one, you might be picking up a model with an AData XM11 SSD or it might be a Sandisk U100 but unfortunately they are the same price and a similar model number making them very difficult to tell apart ... until you use it. The SandForce drive AData drive is significantly faster than the Sandisk drive which uses its own proprietary controller. The difference is not crippling but it is certainly noticeable when benchmarking and using the system. The final result was that size does matter, the 11.6" UX21 has SandForce while the 13.3" UX31 does not, though both are still very nice Ultrabooks.
"If we told you that we spent $2400 to right a wrong in proving something that you as a consumer should be aware of, would you believe us? This report closely examines the ASUS Zenbook. Within the ‘Zen’, ASUS may provide either of two SATA 3 SSDs, these being the AData ‘SandForce Driven’ XM11 or the Sandisk U100. There is no price difference between the two, the product number is the same and the consumer has no way of knowing which they will receive. The performance drop between the two is somewhat unbelievable, however, and we thought this report important enough to invest in one of each Zenbook to educate the consumer on the reality of their potential Zenbook purchase."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire AS5755-6647 @ TechReviewSource
- Dell XPS 13 Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS Transformer Prime (TF201) Android Tablet and Keyboard Dock Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Series 5 NP530U4B Review @ TechReviewSource
- Gigabyte Unveils U2442 Ultrabook With Great Features @ SSD Review
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS Battle Dragon LAN Bag @ Kitguru
- Choiix Wake Up Folio @ LanOC Reviews
- Lenovo IdeaPad A1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review @ HardwareLOOK
- Innovation or hype? Ars examines Nokia's 41 megapixel smartphone camera
- Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Hands On With the New iPad @ TechReviewSource
- Apple To Re-Enable 3G Switch In iPhone 4S @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 4, 2012 - 09:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel
Intel… really likes Ultrabooks.
Over the last year Intel has been attempting to push their Ultrabook platform in an attempt to promote the PC platform as both elegant and mobile. They only want to do what is best for the PC -- especially the ones which contain the most and the highest profit margin Intel parts. Is that really too much for the big blue to ask?
The real irony would be if this ad campaign increases Eyefinity sales…
Within the last year Intel has pushed Ultrabooks from as many different angles as they possibly can. They bargained with manufacturers to take the risk and develop these higher-end laptops. They set aside 300 million dollars toward technologies to further Ultrabooks in any way possible from batteries to software. Intel now completes their Ultrabook platform support triangle: they advertise the heck out of them.
So what do you see from this, a WOW or a FAIL?
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 15, 2012 - 07:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultrabook, Pegatron, asustek, apple
Pegatron Technology, an independent spin-off company of Asustek, will apparently stop manufacturing ultrabooks for Asustek as early as the end of March. According to a Digitimes, Pegatron will give up ultrabook orders from Asustek due to pressure from their new partner, Apple. Apple has not been pleased by the competition that ultrabooks bring to their MacBook Air lineup of higher-end ultrathin laptops.
Asus really needs to find their Zen...
Have you ever seen a teenager who fights with their parents and moves out with their boyfriend or girlfriend? You know how that usually ends up with a lot of grief and a giant cellphone bill? With Pegatron currently assembling iPhones for Apple we already got the latter portion of that prophecy. How much grief all parties will incur is still pending.
On the other hand, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet is also rebutting the entire story with claims that it does not make sense. He asserts that Apple cannot push its weight against manufacturing and design companies and risk burning bridges.
On the other other hand, it very much does fit Apple’s recent modus operandi with their treatment of Samsung, HTC, and Google. Apple is also willing to drop large vendors with little hesitation. Apple threatened to drop Intel last summer over power concerns. From my position it is more believable than what the ZDNet article lets on.
What do you believe? Has Apple gone and bucked the Pegasus?
Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2012 - 05:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, amd, Financial Analyst Day, trinity
While Intel struggles to find a away to reduce costs to hit their self imposed $1000 limit on the price for ultrabooks without comprimising the quality of the machine, AMD is leveraging an old strength and a new one. The old strength is familiar to any long time PC fan, AMD's chips are less expensive than Intel's which gives them some nice monetary leeway when creating low cost systems. The new strength is Trinity, the next generation Llano, and the impressive graphics performance packaged in the same substrate and the smooth way it can integrate with a discreet GPU to give desktop like performance.
One of the benefits Trinity will bring is what AMD called 'All day' battery life, with a 12 hour lifespan predicted. Trinity uses half the power of Llano as well as featuring an improved graphics core which they predict to be half again as powerful as Intel's HD Graphics. They also predict the new Bulldozer architecture will increase general computing power. Check out the slides at SemiAccurate for more information.
"Much has been said about Intel’s new Ultrabook form factor. But new details from AMD’s Financial Analyst Day are radically changing the prospective competitive landscape that 2012 has to offer. During Intel’s Q3 conference call certain Intel executives were confident that AMD would always be offering a lower cost alternative to Intel products. But it seems that thing are not turning out the way that the cunning marketeers behind Intel’s “visibly smart” 2nd generation Core processors had hoped."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- More details about some new AMD cores @ SemiAccurate
- AMD sets out its plans for 2013, hints at a possible ARM future @ Ars Technica
- Motherboard prices to hike by 10% at end of 1Q12 @ DigiTimes
- Understanding AMD's Roadmap & New Direction @ AnandTech
- Intel promotes two executives to senior vice president @ DigiTimes
- AMD doubles down on existing Opteron server sockets @ The Register
- Ubuntu 12.04 ARM Performance Becomes Very Compelling @ Phoronix
- David vs Goliath: Can AMD Stand and Fight? @ Hi Tech Legion
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | February 2, 2012 - 07:02 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, trinity, hsa, ultrabook, ultrathin
Today at the AMD Financial Analyst day in Sunnyvale, Lisa Su, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Business Units, showed off a reference design from Compal of an 18mm think ultrathin notebook that they are obviously hoping to compete with Intel's Ultrabook push.
The notebook is based on AMD's upcoming Trinity APU that improves on the CPU and GPU performance of the currently available Llano APU. There weren't many details though Su did state they were hoping for prices in the $600-800 range would could but a lot of pressure on Intel.
Introduction, Thin Is Flimsy
If there was anything that can be pointed to as “the” thing CES was about, it’s the ultrabook. These thin and portable laptops were presented by Intel with all the finesse of a sledgehammer. Intel’s message is clear. Ultrabooks are here, and you’re going to like them.
Such a highly coordinated effort on the part of Intel is unusual. Sure, they’ve pushed industry standards before. But the company’s efforts have usually been focused on a specific technology, like USB. The last time Intel put serious effort into trying to change how system builders constructed their systems was when Intel pushed for the BTX form factor.
BTX was an attempt to address problems the company was having with its Pentium 4 processors, which tended to consume a lot of power and therefor run hot. The push for the ultrabook is also an attempt in address a (perceived) problem. In this case the issue at hand is portability, both in in terms physical system size and battery endurance.
Intel announced some interesting new smartphone and tablet reference designs at CES 2012. These are signs that the company is making headway in this area. But the products based on those reference designs aren’t out yet, and it will probably take a few years for Intel to gain significant market share even if it does manage to offer x86 processors that can beat ARM in smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, Intel needs to provide slim, responsive and portable systems that can distract consumers from tablets.
So we have the ultrabook.
Subject: Mobile | January 19, 2012 - 11:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Samsung, toshiba, LG, z830, Z835, Z330, Series 9
An Ultrabook must meet certain criteria to honestly be an Ultrabook. It cannot be thicker than 0.8" at any point, it must weigh under 3.1 lbs, it should have a battery life above 5 hours, boot to desktop in around 10 seconds or less and most importantly it should cost no more than $1000. These specs seem to have been relaxed by Intel, for instance the Samsung Series 9 is available in two sizes, one which will cost you $1400 and one that will cost $1500. While it is certainly sleek and the 128GB SSD should keep the boot times quick, the price is well over what the spec calls for. Contrast that with the Toshiba Z830 and Z835 which will cost you $700 and therefore does met the specifications originally laid down by Intel. The SSD Reviews top 3 Ultrabooks also include the LG Z330 which does not sport a price tag though the Kilimanjaro based 256GB OCZ SSD inside of the ultrabook does suggest they will not be under $1000. Still, they are pretty to look at.
"There seems to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2012 is going to be the year of the ultrabook and CES 2012 Las Vegas was front and center with just about every ultrabook available, or soon to be, this past week.
Today’s report will examine three forerunners that appear to be in a position, above all others at this point anyway, to grab top marks in 2012. Those who know me may also feel this to be an unfair comparison as I have had the Toshiba Z830 as my tool of choice for a few months now."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire S3 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo IdeaPad U400 Review @ TechReviewSource
- MSI GT780DXR 17.3? Laptop @ Kitguru
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus & Ice Cream Sandwich Review @ AnandTech
- How To Protect Your Apple iPhone’s Home Button @ TechARP
- SoundGraph iMON SmartBay Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 04:04 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: ultrabook, razer, podcast, nvidia, Intel, CES, amd
PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 4 - 1/11/12
Join us tonight as we talk about our final full day of CES 2012 - including yet more Ultrabooks, New products from Razer, and our closing thoughts on this years show.
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!