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Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom
Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.
"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."
One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.
What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:
- Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
- Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
- Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
- VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
- Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
- Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
- Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
- Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
- Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
- Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
- Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
- Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
- Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
- Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch
Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.
Subject: Mobile | March 16, 2017 - 11:15 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x16, Sprint, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, new orleans, motorola, LTE Plus, LTE Advanced, LTE, gigabit-class
Demoing improvements to mobile phone networks is difficult. Where an individual vendor such as Intel or AMD can show off an improved CPU architecture mostly by themselves, it takes a lot of cooperation between companies to show off advanced mobile data initiatives.
This is just what Sprint, Qualcomm, and Motorola teamed up to do last week at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The first part of the story revolves around Sprint’s unique placement in the US mobile network market. While network operators such as Verizon, ATT, and T-Mobile in the US currently operate their LTE networks on low and mid-band LTE frequencies, the vast majority of Sprint's allocated frequency into the high-band range of 2.5GHz. The reason that Sprint has this spectrum is from their short-lived rollout of WiMax technology with Clear.
High-band frequencies can provide several advantages when deploying technologies enabling Gigabit-class LTE and on the road to 5G.
First, the antenna size needed in the 2.5GHz range is substantially smaller than the antenna size for a more common LTE frequency like 1900MHz. This means that when looking to deploy cellular sites utilizing technologies like 4X4 MIMO antenna arrays, Sprint can make smaller cell sites and be more nimble by placing them in areas where they are seeing substantial network load.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 8, 2017 - 12:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dell, hp, Lenovo, docking station, usb 3.1, thunderbolt 3, Type-C
Wave goodbye to your old docks as they sail away thanks to a thunderstorm. The Register reached out to Dell, HP, Lenovo and ASUS about the rumours that the docking station will be a thing of the past and all but the latter responded. It seems the vendors feel that as USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 have united under the Type-C plug it is time to cover up that slot in the bottom of your PC and use a wire to connect you to docks. Lenovo will also persist with their WiGig docks, for those who don't want to have to remember to 'undock' a cable. Their post also has some tidbits on some of the features to expect on laptops from these three companies, so check it out for more info.
"When you shop for PCs this year your theme tune may well be “Ding, dong, the dock is dead” because now that USB 3.1, USB-C connectors and Thunderbolt all play nicely together there's much less need for dedicated hardware to connect a laptop to peripherals."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Firefox 52 Is The Last Version of Firefox For Windows XP and Vista @ Slashdot
- Troubled Avaya takes Extreme option, flogs network biz for $100m @ The Register
- Redmond's on fire, your 365 is terrified: Microsoft email outage en masse @ The Register
- The NVIDIA Jetson TX2 (Pascal) Tech Report @ TechARP
Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 4, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Tegra X1, teardown, switch, nvidia, Nintendo
Here at PC Perspective, videos of Ryan and Ken dismantling consoles on their launch date were some of our most popular... ever. While we didn’t do one for the Nintendo Switch, GamersNexus did, and I’m guessing that a segment of our audience would be interested in seeing what the device looks like when dismantled.
As he encounters many chips, he mentions what, if anything, is special about them based on their part numbers. For instance, the NVIDIA SoC is listed as A2, which is apparently different from previous Maxwell-based Tegra X1 SoCs, but it’s unclear how. From my perspective, I can think of three possibilities: NVIDIA made some customizations (albeit still on the Maxwell architecture) for Nintendo, NVIDIA had two revisions for their own purposes and Nintendo bought the A2, or the A2 shipped with NVIDIA's Maxwell-based Shield and my Google-fu is terrible.
Regardless, if you’re interested, it should be an interesting twenty-or-so minutes.
Subject: Mobile | March 1, 2017 - 02:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Snapdragon 625, opinion, MWC, keyone, enterprise, Cortex A53, blackberry, Android 7.1, Android
February is quite the busy month with GDC, MWC, and a flurry of technology announcements coming out all around the same time! One of the more surprising announcements from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona came from BlackBerry in the form of a new mid-range smartphone it is calling the KEYone. The KEYone is an Android 7.1 smartphone actually built by TCL with an aluminum frame, "soft touch" plastic back, curved edges, and (in traditional CrackBerry fashion) a full physical QWERTY keyboard!
The black and silver candy bar style KEYone (previously known as "Mercury") measures 5.78" x 2.85" x 0.37" and weighs 0.39 pounds. The left, right, and bottom edges are rounded and the top edge is flat. There are two bottom firing stereo speakers surrounding a USB Type-C port (Type-C 1.0 with USB OTG), a headphone jack up top, and volume, power, and convenience key buttons on the right side. The front of the device, which BlackBerry has designed to be comfortable using one handed, features a 4.5" 1620 x 1080 LCD touchscreen (434 PPI) protected by Gorilla Glass 4, a front facing camera with LED flash, and a large physical keyboard with straight rows of keys that have a traditional BlackBerry feel. The keyboard, in addition to having physical buttons, supports touch gestures such as swiping, and the spacebar has a fingerprint reader that early hands on reports indicate works rather well for quickly unlocking the phone. Further, every physical key can be programmed as a hot key to open any application with a long press (B for browser, E for email, ect).
On the camera front, BlackBerry is using the same sensor found in the Google Pixel which is a Sony IMX378. There is a 12MP f/2.0 rear camera with dual LED flash and phase detect auto focus on the back as well as a front facing 8MP camera. Both cameras can record 1080p30 video as well as support HDR and software features like face detection. Android Central reports that the camera software is rather good (it even has a pro mode) and the camera is snappy at taking photos.
Internally, BlackBerry has opted to go with squarely mid-range hardware which is disappointing but not the end of the world. Specifically, the KEYone is powered by a Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953) with eight ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2GHz and an Adreno 506 GPU paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Wireless support includes dual band 802.11ac, FM, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC, and GSM/HSPA/LTE cellular radios. The smartphone uses a 3,505 mAh battery that is not user removable but at least supports Quick Charge 3.0 which can reportedly charge the battery to 50% in 36 minutes. Storage can be expanded via MicroSD cards. The smartphone is running Android 7.1.1 with some BlackBerry UI tweaks but is otherwise fairly stock. Under the hood however BlackBerry has hardened the OS and includes its DTEK security sftware along with promising monthly updates.
Not bad right? Looking at the specifications and reading/watching the various hands-on reports coming out it is really looking like BlackBerry (finally) has a decent piece of hardware for enterprise customers, niche markets (lawyers, healthcare, ect), and customers craving a physical keyboard in a modern phone. At first glance the BlackBerry KEYone hits all the key marks to a competitive Android smartphone... except for its $549 price tag. The KEYone is expected to launch in April.
No scroll ball? Blasphemy! (hehe)
Unfortunately, that $549 price is not a typo, and is what kills it even for a CrackBerry addict like myself. After some reflection and discussion with our intrepid smartphone guru Sebastian, I feel as though BlackBerry would have a competitive smartphone on its hands at $399, but at $549 even business IT departments are going to balk much less consumers (especially as many businesses embrace the BYOD culture or have grown accustomed to pricing out and giving everyone whatever basic Android or iPhone they can fit into the budget).
While similarly specced Snapdragon 625 smartphones are going for around $300, (e.g. Asus ZenPhone 3 at $265.98), there is some precedent for higher priced MSM8953-based smartphones such as the $449 Moto Z Play. There is some inherent cost in integrating a physical keyboard and BlackBerry has also hardened the Android 7.1.1 OS which I can see them charging a premium for and that business customers (or anyone that does a lot of writing on the go) that values security can appreciate. It seems like BlackBerry (and hardware partner TCL) has finally learned how to compete on the hardware design front in this modern Android-dominated market, and now they must learn how to compete on price especially as more and more Americans are buying unlocked and off-contract smartphones! I think the KEYone is a refreshing bit of hardware to come out of BlackBerry (I was not a fan of the Priv design) and I would like to see it do well and give the major players (Apple, Samsung, LG, Asus, Huawei, ect) some healthy competition with the twist of its focus on better security but in order for that to happen I think the BlackBerry KEYone needs to be a bit cheaper.
What are your thoughts on the KEYone and the return of the physical keyboard? Am I onto something or simply off my Moto Rokr on this?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 27, 2017 - 11:12 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x50, Sub-6 Ghz, qualcomm, OFDM, NR, New Radio, MWC, multi-mode, modem, mmWave, LTE, 5G, 3GPP
Qualcomm has announced their first successful 5G New Radio (NR) connection using their prototype sub-6 GHz prototype system. This announcement was followed by today's news of Qualcomm's collaboration with Ericsson and Vodafone to trial 5G NR in the second half of 2017, as we approach the realization of 5G. New Radio is expected to become the standard for 5G going forward as 3GPP moves to finalize standards with release 15.
"5G NR will make the best use of a wide range of spectrum bands, and utilizing spectrum bands below 6 GHz is critical for achieving ubiquitous coverage and capacity to address the large number of envisioned 5G use cases. Qualcomm Technologies’ sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype, which was announced and first showcased in June 2016, consists of both base stations and user equipment (UE) and serves as a testbed for verifying 5G NR capabilities in bands below 6 GHz."
The Qualcomm Sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype (Image credit: Qualcomm)
Qualcomm first showed their sub-6 Ghz prototype this past summer, and it will be on display this week at MWC. The company states that the system is designed to demonstrate how 5G NR "can be utilized to efficiently achieve multi-gigabit-per-second data rates at significantly lower latency than today’s 4G LTE networks". New Radio, or NR, is a complex topic as it related to a new OFDM-based wireless standard. OFDM refers to "a digital multi-carrier modulation method" in which "a large number of closely spaced orthogonal sub-carrier signals are used to carry data on several parallel data streams or channels". With 3GPP adopting this standard going forward the "NR" name could stick, just as "LTE" (Long Term Evolution) caught on to describe the 4G wireless standard.
Along with this 5G NR news comes the annoucement of the expansion of its X50 modem family, first announced in October, "to include 5G New Radio (NR) multi-mode chipset solutions compliant with the 3GPP-based 5G NR global system", according to Qualcomm. This 'multi-mode' solution provides full 4G/5G compatibility with "2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip", with the first commercial devices expected in 2019.
"The new members of the Snapdragon X50 5G modem family are designed to support multi-mode 2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip, providing simultaneous connectivity across both 4G and 5G networks for robust mobility performance. The single chip solution also supports integrated Gigabit LTE capability, which has been pioneered by Qualcomm Technologies, and is an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience as the high-speed coverage layer that co-exists and interworks with nascent 5G networks. This set of advanced multimode capabilities is designed to provide seamless Gigabit connectivity – a key requirement for next generation, premium smartphones and mobile computing devices."
Full press releases after the break.
Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2017 - 08:19 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X20, snapdragon, qualcomm, modem, LTE, DSDV, Category 18, Carrier Aggregation, CA, 5x20 MHz
Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, their 2nd-generation Gigabit LTE solution built on 10nm FinFET and offering what Qualcomm says are “a number of industry firsts”, which include first to Category 18 (downlink) and first to receive up to 12 spacial LTE data streams simultaneously.
“It is the first commercially announced Gigabit LTE chipset designed to deliver fiber-like LTE Category 18 download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps, a 20 percent improvement in download speeds over the previous generation. Additionally, it allows support for up to 5x20 MHz downlink Carrier Aggregation (CA) across licensed and unlicensed FDD and TDD radio frequencies, as well as 4x4 MIMO on up to three aggregated LTE carriers. Lastly, it supports integrated Dual SIM Dual VoLTE (DSDV) capability, a first for Snapdragon LTE modems. These leading-edge features of the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem are supported by the first commercially announced single-chip RF transceiver capable of simultaneously receiving up to 12 spatial streams of LTE data.”
Compared the the X16 modem featured in the upcoming Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem moves from Cat 16 to Cat 18 on the downlink, with support for 5x20 MHz (vs. the X16’s 4x20 MHz) Carrier Aggregation and “can simultaneously receive 12 unique streams of data on as few as three 20 MHz carriers”, with up to 256-QAM and 100 Mbps per stream. Uplink is at the same 2x20 MHz/64-QAM as the X16 modem, for speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
The X20 LTE modem now includes VoLTE for both cards in a dual-SIM implementation:
“The Snapdragon X20 LTE modem also features more advanced dual SIM functionality and, as the first Snapdragon LTE modem to support DSDV, it provides users with the benefits of Ultra HD Voice and other IMS-based services on both SIMs inserted into the device.”
Qualcomm has begun to sample the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem to customers, with the first commercial devices expected 1H 2018.
Full press release after the break.
Subject: Mobile | February 20, 2017 - 02:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zenbook 3, UX390UA, ultrabook, kaby lake, asus. zenbook
We caught a glance at the new ASUS ZenBook 3 at CES and today Kitguru provides a full review of one, albeit a slightly different model. The UX3901UA model contains a Kaby Lake i5-7200U with HD 620 graphics, 8GB LPDDR3-2133 and a 512GB M.2 SATA SSD. The 12.5" screen is 1080p with no adaptive graphics or other tricks. Where things seem to go off the rails is when you look at the thickness of the Zenbook, at its thickest it is 11.9mm (0.46"). This means you get no ethernet nor USB type A plugs as they simply would not fit and you have to content yourself with a single Type C plug. For some the sacrifice is worth it; if you are one who likes petite sized computers you should head over for the full review.
"What has really caught my eye about the ZenBook 3 is its physical dimensions – it measures just 11.9mm thick, while it weighs a mere 910g. With Kaby Lake hardware inside, as well as the promise of a crisp 1080p display and Harman Kardon speakers, could this be our new ultrabook of choice?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
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As I mentioned last week, my ZTE Axon 7 has just received Android 7.0 Nougat, which also unlocked Google Daydream VR. I wasn’t able to pick up Google’s VR headset at the time, but now I can, so I did, and I spent a couple of hours messing around with it.
First, I have to say I am very glad that Google made one headset (and controller) that works with all Daydream-compatible phones. That wasn’t entirely clear when I ordered my Axon 7 last summer, and I feared it would lead to a lot of waiting for my OEM to release a specific headset that may or may not be as good as any another vendor’s, especially sight unseen. I don’t really know how they properly align the screens, across all possible phones and accounting for user-error, but it seems to accept my phone perfectly without really any fiddling. Maybe it’s a simpler problem than I am envisioning, but, either way, the one viewer works with my ZTE Axon 7 -- it’s not just for the Pixel.
My second point is that the phone gets very hot, very quick. I’m sure ZTE knows about this, and the phone is designed around it, but it doesn’t just get warm, it borders on hot-to-the-touch at times. To be safe, I’m removing the case each time I insert it into the Daydream View, although the device seems to work either way. The battery does drain quickly, relative to other workloads, but a single, hour-or-so VR sitting took about 25% off (~75% remaining). Despite the heat and the quick battery drain, you will probably be done with a VR sitting before the device is, so I consider those aspects to be all-around positive.
As for the YouTube app, I’m glad that the virtual screen for standard video can be adjusted in pretty much any way. You can make it bigger or smaller with the track pad, pull it in any direction with motion controls, and adjust whether it’s flat or curved (so all points are equidistant) in the settings. If you want to lay on your back in bed and watch movies “on the ceiling”, then you can... and without holding the phone over your face while your arms go numb.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience.
As for games? Eh... about the only thing that caught my eye is maybe “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. I’m pleasantly surprised it’s there, but it’s about the only thing that is. I knew there wasn’t a whole lot of apps, and that’s fine for me, but you probably shouldn’t get too excited outside of video.
Also, it’d be nice to see Google Chrome in VR. Get on that, Google! A virtual void would make a good place to keep my many, many tabs. It will apparently support WebVR content very soon, but in a “browse, click the Daydream button, mount it in the View, and put it on your head, then undo all that when you’re done” sort of way. It’d be nice to just... stay in the headset to browse.
Anywho, I have it, and those are my thoughts. It’s early, but it seems to work pretty well. I haven’t tried an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive yet, though, so I can’t make any comparisons there.
Subject: Mobile | February 8, 2017 - 07:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zte, axon 7, google, nougat, Android, android 7.0
Well that was quick. About two weeks ago, we reported on ZTE Mobile Deutschland’s Facebook post that said Android 7.0 would miss January, but arrive some time in Q1. For North America, that apparently means the second week of February, because my device was just notified, about an hour ago, that A2017UV1.1.0B15 was available for over-the-air update. It just finished installing.
In my case, I needed to hold the on button a few times to get the phone to boot into the second stage of installation, but ZTE mentions it in the pre-install notes, so that’s good. Then, when the phone moved on to the new lock screen, my fingerprint reader didn’t work until after I typed in the lock screen password. I’m not sure why the phone didn’t accept the fingerprint reader until after I successfully logged in, especially since it used the fingerprints on file from Android 6.0, I didn’t need to set it up again, but it’s a small inconvenience. Just don’t perform the update if you can’t access your password manager and you don’t remember the unlock code off the top of your head.
While I don’t have a Daydream VR headset, I’ll probably pick one up soon and give it a test. The Daydream app is installed on the device, though, so you can finally enjoy Android-based VR content if you pick one up.
If your phone hasn’t alerted you yet, find your unlock password and check for updates in the settings app.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 6, 2017 - 03:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: xeon, Thinkpad, quadro, P71, P51s, P51, nvidia, notebook, mobile workstation, Lenovo, kaby lake, core i7
Lenovo has announced a trio of new ThinkPad mobile workstations, featuring updated Intel 7th-generation Core (Kaby Lake) processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics, and among these is the thinnest and lightest ThinkPad mobile workstation to date in the P51s.
"Engineered to deliver breakthrough levels of performance, reliability and long battery life, the ThinkPad P51s features a new chassis, designed to meet customer demands for a powerful but portable machine. Developed with engineers and professional designers in mind, this mobile workstation features Intel’s 7th generation Core i7 processors and the latest NVIDIA Quadro dedicated workstation graphics, as well as a 4K UHD IPS display with optional IR camera."
Lenovo says that the ThinkPad P51s is more than a half pound lighter than the previous generation (P50s), stating that "the P51s is the lightest and thinnest mobile workstation ever developed by ThinkPad" at 14.4 x 9.95 x 0.79 inches, and weight starting at 4.3 lbs.
Specs for the P51s include:
- Up to a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- NVIDIA Quadro M520M Graphics
- Choice of standard or touchscreen FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, or 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS display
- Up to 32 GB DDR4 2133 RAM (2x SODIMM slots)
- Storage options including up to 1 TB (5400 rpm) HDD and 1 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs
- USB-C with Intel Thunderbolt 3
- 802.11ac and LTE-A wireless connectivity
Lenovo also announced the ThinkPad P51, which is slightly larger than the P51s, but brings the option of Intel Xeon E3-v6 processors (in addition to Kaby Lake Core i7 CPUs), Quadro M2200M graphics, faster 2400 MHz memory up to 64 GB (4x SODIMM slots), and up to a 4K IPS display with X-Rite Pantone color calibration.
Finally there is the new VR-ready P71 mobile workstation, which offers up to an NVIDIA Quadro P5000M GPU along with Oculus and HTC VR certification.
"Lenovo is also bringing virtual reality to life with the new ThinkPad P71. One of the most talked about technologies today, VR has the ability to bring a new visual perspective and immersive experience to our customers’ workflow. In our new P71, the NVIDIA Pascal-based Quadro GPUs offer a stunning level of performance never before seen in a mobile workstation, and it comes equipped with full Oculus and HTC certifications, along with NVIDIA’s VR-ready certification."
Pricing and availability is as follows:
- ThinkPad P51s, starting at $1049, March
- ThinkPad P51, starting at $1399, April
- ThinkPad P71, starting at $1849, April
The German offices of ZTE Mobile have announced (via their Facebook page) that the Android 7.0 update will be coming later in this quarter, which would be before the end of March. In November, this branch announced that the update would be coming in January. This update is supposed to bring Daydream to the handset, as this was one of the big promises that ZTE made about the device before it launched. They are not confident with it in its current state, though.
Our readers were asking about my opinion of the device, since I published a “Just Delivered” post about it four months ago. I said that I would wait until the Nougat release, which I was, at the time, expecting in October or November, because I had a feeling that ZTE envisioned the phone with that OS version. Since then, bugs have come and gone, most of which were relatively benign, like messing up whitespace in the lock screen’s current date. Personally, I started getting a bug where my camera would occasionally fail to focus, instead humming and blurring like it’s focusing in and out tens or hundreds of times per second until you close the app using the camera. (It started happening, off and on, just after the last service update, although it could just be a coincidental hardware issue with my unit. I’m waiting until I see it in Nougat to call customer support.)
Either way, it’s probably a good thing that ZTE is taking their time with this one. I’m guessing this update is when those who adopted the Axon 7 will begin to solidify judgments about the company as a higher-end phone vendor going forward.
Subject: Mobile | January 23, 2017 - 03:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, dominator pro, GT62VR 7RE Dominator Pro, gaming laptop, 4k gsync
MSI takes their Dominator series of laptops seriously and the new Kaby Lake model is no exception. The GSYNC IPS display is natively 4k and the 8GB GTX 1070 should drive it at 60Hz without issue, or you could skip the monitor and go straight to VR as the required ports are present. The CPU is an i7-7820HK, with 32GB of DDR4-2400 in a dual channel configuration and Samsung provided an M.2 500GB SSD rated at 540MB/s read, 520MBs write, with a 1TB HDD for extra storage. It weighs in at almost 3kg (6.4lbs) so it is not as heavy as you might expect, though the 230W power adapter may add a few straws to that load. eTeknix tired it out to see how effective it was at replacing a gaming desktop, you can see the results and photos of the internals right here.
"MSI’s gaming laptops have gained a special status for their gorgeous sense of style and astounding features. It’s no surprise that the latest data puts their firmly in the lead as the world’s most successful gaming laptop manufacturer. Honestly, it’s thoroughly deserved and I’m pleased to see the MSI pushing the technical envelope further and making laptops a true alternative to traditional desktops."
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Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 20, 2017 - 07:39 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, chromecast ultra, chromecast
One of the disadvantages of the ZTE Axon 7, which a lot of other phones share, is that you cannot directly connect it to a TV over HDMI via MHL. Granted, it’s a good screen and great speakers, so I can just pass the device around, but sometimes you want to show a video (or something) on the TV. As such, I was looking around at the Chromecast, but I heard a bunch of complaints that ranged from low frame rate to frequent stutters in some apps.
Then Google announced the Chromecast Ultra, which launched in November. I put my email address on the official waiting list and... haven’t heard a thing since. I also haven’t seen it in many stores. I then found out that the local Best Buy Mobile kiosk had it (yet the full store a few blocks away somehow did not???) Interestingly, when I arrived, they had several of them, and on sale for $20 off, too.
Upon bringing it home, it had a little difficulty connecting to my WiFi router. (The 5 GHz band was a little weak at that location.) Once that was resolved, though, it was a very pleasant experience. It played 1080p60 video from YouTube without any trouble, even switching to the correct input automatically with HDMI CEC (although I needed to manually change it back to the digital TV box when I was done).
I don’t have a 4K or HDR TV, though, so I cannot test its more advanced features. Sorry!
Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2017 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, P57X v6, gaming laptop, gtx 1070
NVIDIA no longer adds an 'm' after this generations mobile parts, the GTX 1070 in this gaming laptop from Gigabyte is simply labelled GTX 1070 even though it's boost clock of 1645MHz is somewhat lower than the reference of 1683MHz. A 256GB Transcend MTS800 M.2 SATA SSD gives your OS and programs somewhere to live while the 1TB Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000 provides data storage and believe it or not this laptop also comes with a DVD-RW drive.
The slightly lower clock still provides enough performance for the integral 1080p display, and will power a VR headset over the USB 3.0 Type-A and HDMI 2.0 ports. The Tech Report;s testing shows performance that tends to fall between the desktop GTX 1060 and 1070 which is not terribly surprising. Check out their full review here.
"Powered by Nvidia's mobile GeForce GTX 1070, Gigabyte's P57X v6 laptop promises truly desktop-class desktop-class performance in a relatively compact and portable chassis. We put it to the test to see what a new generation of mobile graphics means for gamers on the go."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Dell’s latest XPS 13 DE still delivers Linux in a svelte package @ Ars Technica
- The Flash Plus 2 Smartphone @ TechARP
- The ASUS ZenFone 3 @ TechARP
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2017 - 09:25 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: thin and light, nvidia, notebook, laptop, kaby lake, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050, gigabyte, gaming, CES 2017, CES
Gigabyte had a full line of new laptops to show off at this year’s CES, with models ranging from larger gaming enthusiast designs to slim machines that still offer plenty of gaming power from their discrete graphics.
We’ll start with the P56, a 15.6-inch machine with an optional 4K display, 7th-gen Intel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) processor, and GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.
“The P56 provides enthusiasts with not only ultra smooth performance but also with tools to victory. All packed in a portable quality chassis. Equipped with the next gen Intel 7th Gen Core i7 7700HQ processor and the all-powerful GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. The main core of the P56 is set to drive all the latest games, not at just 1080P but even at higher resolutions with the optional 15.6” UHD 3840x2160 display.”
The P56 is equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port, island-style keyboard with customizable per-key RGB backlighting, and a large 91Wh battery.
Next we have the Sabre 15, which is also powered by a new 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB) and GTX 1050 (2GB) graphics options.
“Gamers can now fully enjoy the latest performance from the pascal architecture, with fluid gaming graphics at 1080p for most recent game titles. The keyboard plays a big role in winning or losing a game, that is why the Sabre 15 comes with optimized 2.2mm travel scissor type keys, for that extra feel and precision. To top that off, the Sabre 15 features RGB backlight keyboard with 16.8 million colors (optional).”
Rounding out the updated lineup are a trio of thin-and-light professional models that are still very capable gaming machines, beginning with the AERO 14, a 19.9mm-thick (and 4.17 lb) aluminum design which features a QHD (2560x1440) IPS screen, GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, and 94.24Wh battery.
Finally we have the P34 and P35 laptops, which claim the title of “world’s lightest 14” GeForce GTX 1050 Ti laptop (P34) and “world’s slimmest 15.6” GeForce GTX 1070 laptop”, respectively.
The P34 is indeed light for a gaming-ready laptop, with a weight of just 3.73 lbs. For its part the 15.6-inch P35 laptop is a very high-end option, regardless of its slim construction.
“The P35 comes in at an unbeatable 20.9mm thin and weighs just 2.3Kg. It is hard to believe that such a thin chassis has a GeForce GTX 1070 inside, outputting the same performance as the desktop GeForce GTX 1070, now on the go. GIGABYTE has swapped out the old 6th gen and opt for the latest 7th gen Core i7 processor, giving professionals multitasking capabilities like never before. The unparalleled graphical power of the GeForce GTX 1070 further drives the stunning 15.6” UHD 3840 x 2160 IPS display, professionals will definitely take advantage of such a high pixel density and high RGB accuracy display, stationed or mobile. The Swappable bay gives professionals the power to swap between Blu-ray drive or up to 2TB HDD of extra storage, providing that extra customization on the go.”
Pricing and availability information for the new laptops is not yet available.
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Subject: Displays, Mobile | January 5, 2017 - 12:36 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: razer, Project Valerie, notebook, multi-monitor, laptop, gaming, concept, CES 2017, CES
Razer has announced Project Valerie, a radical concept for a triple-monitor gaming laptop described as "the world’s first gaming laptop capable of housing three individual G-SYNC displays". A picture is worth a thousand words, and there is just something about a laptop with three 17.3-inch 4K displays.
Each 17.3-inch 4K IGZO display is equipped with NVIDIA G-SYNC technology that is capable of producing the smoothest possible framerates and expansive 180 degree NVIDIA Surround View gaming. Creative professionals can look forward to 100 percent Adobe RGB color accuracy and the greatest amount of screen real estate ever assembled in a single computer.
Project Valerie uses an automatic deployment mechanism designed by Razer. Each display mechanically slides out of the side of the main screen and adjusts into place, making it easy for users to deploy. With integrated multi-monitor support, users will no longer have to deal with the cable clutter from traditional desktop setups. The result is a clean gaming and working environment that’s just as easy to maintain.
Razer has released a video for Project Valerie:
Called a "proposed system" at this point, the Project Valerie notebook would be based on a 1.5 inch thick unibody aluminum chassis with a weight of under 12 lbs. Razer states that the notebook would be equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, and exceeds the minumum hardware requirements for VR. The design includes Razer’s Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical switch keyboard, and the notebook would be cooled using a thermal system comprised of "custom-designed fan and dynamic heat exchangers pair(ed) with a vapor chamber to maximize heat dissipation".
The full press release is available after the break.
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Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 02:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zenfone 3 zoom, zenfone 3, zenfone, CES 2017, CES, asus
ASUS has just announced the ZenFone 3 Zoom, which resides in the camera and battery life areas of their product stack. While we will discuss its performance below, this phone prides itself on a 5,000 mAh battery and two rear-facing cameras, which are paired for an interesting feature: optical zoom.
Instead of trying to fit a lens assembly into a smartphone that expands and contracts to zoom in and out, this phone switches between two cameras, one with a wide-angle lens, and the other with a telephoto one. Typically, cameras attempt to solve the “zoom” problem by including higher and higher megapixel sensors, which provides finer images but reduces low-light performance -- you have to acquire a signal from a smaller and smaller fraction of the photons that hit your sensor.
Going one step further, because their users will need to crop less of their photo, ASUS used a fairly large, but 12 megapixel sensor for each camera. This means that the pixels are fairly big, 1.4 microns, allowing them to gather more light. This should translate to good and relatively consistent low-light performance at either zoom level, which are 2.3x apart.
As for the battery? That’s a lot of power. The original ZenFone 3 had 2,600 mAh with the same SoC. The ZenFone 3 Zoom almost doubles that. ASUS claims 40 days of 4G standby, but I’m more curious how long it can play games and watch videos untethered. Update: It was quick, but I believe they said over eight hours of live video streaming on a single charge.
Being based on last year’s mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, it will perform like the base ZenFone 3, rather than the flagship ZenFone 3 Deluxe and its Snapdragon 820. Despite the chip’s GPU being listed at about a third of the performance of its bigger sibling, depending on clock rate, it is still capable of Vulkan and OpenGL ES 3.1 should ASUS ship a driver.
The ZenFone 3 Zoom is expected to be available in February, but prices and SKUs are TBD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 02:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zenfone AR, zenfone, asus
ASUS has just announced the ZenFone 3 AR, which implements both Google’s DayDream VR API as well as Google’s Tango AR platform. The former is designed for games, apps, and videos, allowing the user to block out their vision a headset that the phone is mounted into. Tango, on the other hand, was announced a couple of years ago. It creates a 3D representation of the space around the user, which is accessible to compatible apps.
The phone itself is built around a large, 5.7-inch, 1440p AMOLED display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor. While this the same SoC that you would find in the already-released ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s high-end SKU, the ZenFone AR is expected to launch in Q2, which is makes the 821 the fastest chip that they could have possibly integrated. Also, ASUS claims that the Snapdragon 821 is designed with Tango in mind, with the API able to accelerate positional awareness using its DSP.
The ZenFone AR also contains 6GB of RAM, because why not. Update: The ASUS presentation just said 8GB, although the press release says 6GB. I'm guessing both options will be available.
It is expected to launch in Q2, but that typically varies greatly by region for ASUS products.
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Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 12:17 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: notebook, laptop, kaby lake, CES 2017, CES, business, B9440, ASUSPRO, asus, 7th generation core
ASUS has announced the ASUSPRO B9440, which the company claims to be "the world’s lightest 14-inch business notebook" at just 2.31 lbs.
"The sleek B9440 is designed to be both stylish and practical, using an all-metal chassis crafted from magnesium alloy — a premium material that is lighter but more rigid than standard aluminum alloy. The ergonomic keyboard has an innovative tilting design that positions it perfectly for comfortable typing.
Like all ASUSPRO business notebooks, B9440 is designed to exceed military-grade durability standards. It also passes our extra-strict ASUSPRO reliability standards, undergoing a series of tough torture tests to ensure dependable operation in any environment.
The B9440 is equipped with the new 7th-gen Intel Core (Kaby Lake) i5 and i7 U-series processors optional Intel vPro support, along with up to 16 GB onboard LPDDR3 memory and up to 512 GB SSD storage, with security features including TPM 2.0 and a fingerprint sensor.
Specifications for the ASUSPRO B9440 from ASUS:
- Processor: 7th Gen Intel Core i5/i7, with optional Intel vPro support
- Display: 14-inch Full HD wide-viewing-angle display with anti-glare coating
- Memory: 8GB/16GB LPDDR3 onboard
- Storage: Up to 512GB M.2 PCIe or M.2 SATA SSD
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (one port supports docking, power delivery)
- 1 x combo stereo headphone/mic port
- Wireless: 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Fingerprint sensor
- TPM 2.0 (downgradeable)
- Integrated dual-microphone array
- Harman Kardon stereo audio system
- Battery: 4-cell 48W Li-polymer
- Operating system: Windows 10 / Windows 10 Pro
- Dimensions: 12.65 x 8.51 x 0.35~0.58 inches
- Weight: 2.31 lbs
The ASUSPRO B9440 will be available in May with a retail price starting at $999.
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