MSI slips on a suit, the WS63 8SJ mobile workstation

Subject: Mobile | June 8, 2018 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: WS63 8SJ, mobile workstation, msi

Inside the svelte 4.2lb, 0.7" thick chassis of the W63 8SJ laptop is an i7-8750H with 32GB of DDR4-2400, a 512-GB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD and most importantly an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU.  The 15.6" IPS screen is 1080p and the bottom of the laptop is, well, coated in microfleece.  The performance of the laptop was decent but doesn't hold up to thicket workstation class laptops which are able to fit more RAM and cooling in.  The Tech Report were also less than satisfied with the Thunderbolt 3 implementation on the W63, which you can read more about here.

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"I took a walk on the wild side and picked up a mobile workstation not made by HP, Dell, or Lenovo with MSI's W63 8SJ. Will my impatience lead to regret, or have I discovered a new notebook contender for my on-the-go CAD users?"

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This is your Yoga on tiger blood; Intel's dual display demo duo

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2018 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: Tiger Rapids, Intel, kaby lake

Recently seen in the Lenovo Yoga devices, mobile devices with dual screens are attracting attention but so far the implementation has not been without troubles.  Intel showed off two prototype machines at Computex that they believe will offer what this segment of customers is looking for.  The Tiger Rapids machine has a conventional touchscreen on one side and some sort of electronic paper display on the other, which has a bit of give to it so that using a stylus on it gives you some tactile feedback.  It is powered by a Kaby Lake processor of some description, with an SSD and the unfortunately common lone USB Type-C port on it.  At 4.7mm thin it is a fairly impressive design. 

Their second does not bear a code name but resembles the Yoga as it has two traditional touchscreens with one generally displaying a keyboard.   We don't know much about them, but you can take a peek at them over at The Inquirer.

Intelconceptdevice-540x334.jpg

"The first machine codenamed Tiger Rapids - this is Intel after all - mixes one touchscreen panel with an electronic paper display designed specifically for note taking and stylus scribbling, even coming with a slight give to simulate writing on paper."

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Source: The Inquirer

ASUS reveals the new ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 at Computex

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2018 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: xenbook, UX580, thunderbolt 3, pantone, asus

ASUS revealed their new Xenbook, with its new ScreenPad and NanoEdge bezels, which give this laptop an 83% screen-to-body ratio.  You will be able to get a variety of models, including a 4k alternative for those who can't stand 1080p anymore. 

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Inside you will find a processor of up to an i9-8950HK, 16GB of DDR4-2400, a GTX 1050 Ti and a 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD.  The 15.6" screen is PANTONE vaildated with guaranteed Delta-E colour difference of less than 2.0 for the 4K display model and less than 3.0 for the 1080p, as well as 100% Adobe RGB and 132% sRGB coverage. 

UX580 Webpage_02.jpg

The ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, replacing a standard touchpad with support for up to to four finger gestures.  As it is more capable than the run of the mill touchpad, ASUS included a configureable menu at the top of the ScreenPad, which can perform a variety of tricks.  If you are using a compatible Microsoft Office product the menu will offer you various ribbon commands, or you can control your YouTube and Spotify sessions.  If you prefer you can also use it as a secondary monitor or use the ASUS Sync app to display and control your smartphone.

This adds up to a powerful little machine, with a reported MSRP of $2300.   Now have some PR ...

Source: ASUS

Computex 2018: ASUS Unleashes ROG Phone for Serious Mobile Gamers

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 5, 2018 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, gaming, mobile gaming, game streaming, Gigabit LTE, computex 2018, computex

In addition to the usual Republic of Gamers branded gear, ASUS unveiled the new ROG Phone at Computex which is a high-end Android device aimed at gamers that extends the ROG brand to mobile devices. The new ROG Phone packs a ton of hardware into a six-inch smartphone that can double as a portable gaming machine and is complete with the requisite aggressive ROG aesthetics especially around back where, yes, there is even configurable RGB.

Asus ROG Phone.jpg

ASUS’ new smartphone measures 158.8mm x 76.2mm x 8.6mm (6.25”x3”x0.34”) and weighs in at 200g (0.44 lbs). The device is black with white accents drawing aggressive angles on back along with vents for cooling and both Republic of Gamers branding and a configurable RGB ROG logo. The front of the phone looks fairly standard with a large 6” 18:9 AMOLED display taking up most of the front face and surrounded by dual front facing SmartAmp speakers that can reportedly get quite loud according to the various hands on videos online. The display has a resolution of 2160 x 1080, a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a 1ms response time, 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and is rated at 108.6% of the DCI-P3 color space. A dedicated image processing chip handles HDR support and the ability of the display to boost the local contrast of certain areas of the display.

As for cameras, there is an 8MP camera in front and dual cameras around back with a main 12MP camera and a 8MP 120-degree wide angle camera.

One interesting thing as far as I/O is that the phone has two USB-C ports with one in the usual spot on the bottom edge and one on the left edge to make using it in landscape mode easier. The included AeroActive cooler can plug into this port and blow air onto the back of the phone to help cool it and your fingertips while also breaking the USB-C port out into a USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. As far as audio, ASUS’ ROG Phone supports Dolby DTS Headphone 7.1 virtual surround sound and Qualcomm aptX for wired and Bluetooth headphones respectively.

Asus has also placed ultrasonic buttons around the edges with two on the left edge corners and one on the bottom right edge that can be used as triggers while in landscape mode for gaming or to do usual Android stuff like taking photos or launching an app.

As far as internal specifications, Asus managed to work out a deal with Qualcomm for binned Snapdragon 845 chips that can run all eight Kryo 385 CPU cores at 2.96 GHz (+160 MHz over stock). The Snapdragon 845 processor also contains the Adreno 630 GPU, Hexagon 685 DSP, Spectra 280 ISP, Qualcomm SPU, Aqstic audio, Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, and 802.11ad Wi-Fi. The chip also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 though I’m not sure which level Asus has enabled as Asus is calling it HyperCharge (up to 20W with the charging IC in the adapter to reduce phone temps). The SD845 is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. The ROG Phone is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery that can be charged to 60% in 33 minutes or 85% in an hour with the included charger. The USB-C ports reportedly only support USB 2.0, however so no USB 3 speeds when transferring files – I suppose Asus needs to at least try to keep the pricing in check! Wireless I/O includes 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi, 802.11ac 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz 2x2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Gigabit LTE.

ASUS ROG Gaming Phone.jpg

ASUS is using a copper heat spreader as well as a 3D vapor chamber to keep the phone cool while gaming and to keep the Snapdragon 845’s CPU and GPU clocked as high as possible for as long as possible. For the serious mobile gamer wanting to keep the frame rates up there is also the clip on AeroActive cooler or “enhanced cooling” in the TwinView dock.

Speaking of docks, ASUS wants gamers to be able to get serious with the ROG Phone by plugging it into docks that will be sold separately. The TwinView dock adds a second display (that is reportedly identical to the AMOLED on the phone itself), physical trigger buttons, and a 6,000 mAh battery while the Mobile Desktop Dock turns the ROG Phone into a portable computer by allowing you to hook it up to a 4K display, keyboard and mouse, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 channel speakers, and other USB peripherals. For those wanting to game on the big screen to share games with friends there is also a WiGig dock and compatibility with the third-party Game Vice controller that turns the ROG Phone into something resembling the Nintendo Switch with joystick and physical buttons on either side.

The ROG Phone is packed with enough hardware to make it competitive with other high-end smartphones as well as the other gaming-focused phone offerings from Razer, Xiaomi, and other entrants to this market. At launch Asus has the docks and accessories down, but pricing is going to be a major concern as the phone itself is not going to be cheap and after adding the docks it might be equivalent to a budget DIY PC build (well before the GPU and RAM price spikes I guess)! On the other hand, it would be a powerful mobile device for running emulators and Fortnite and PUBG are on mobile now (heh) so maybe there is a market serious enough about mobile gaming willing to pay a premium for the ROG Phone.

What do you think? Will you be picking up the ROG Phone?

If you are curious Hardware Canucks and Austin Evans were able to get some hands-on time with the phone and some of the accessories in Taipei, Taiwan.

The ROG Phone is slated for release later this summer with specific pricing not yet available.

Source: Asus
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Qualcomm

Always On, Always Connected

At Computex this week, Qualcomm unveiled its second generation of processor platform for Windows PCs, the Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform. Along with the new branding that attempts to separate the solutions provided for mobile phones from PCs, the chip gets some interesting and necessary upgrades from the currently shipping Snapdragon 835.

Qualcomm has been building and defining the segment and role of the Always On, Always Connected PC since it first started talking up its move into Windows 10 territory in 2017. The company still believes that longer battery life, an always connected device that is instant on, and a fast and constant wireless LTE connection are ingredients for a solution that consumers want and that is not being addressed by Intel or AMD today. I tend to agree with them, though it is a fair belief that the first generation devices still lack in the performance department; enough to warrant some negative reviews from media.

In favor of Qualcomm’s direction, the PC users demand for cellular data connections and extremely high battery life appear to be growing. As Intel struggles with its processor and process technology development, Qualcomm is able to iterate and improve on its performance and efficiency with its partners Arm and TSMC helping along the way. Qualcomm’s own research shows that awareness and “willingness to pay” for these features has increased year-on-year.

sd850-4_0.jpg

Technically, the Snapdragon 850 uses the same core IP as SD 845 SoC for smartphones. That includes the Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 630 GPU, Spectra 280 ISP, Hexagon 685 DSP/vector processor (a new naming shift), and the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem. The difference in naming is mostly to separate the chip options for mobile PCs from mobile phones and tablets, though there are modest performance changes because of higher clock speeds on the Kryo CPU. (2.8 GHz on the SD 845, 2.95 GHz on the SD 850.)

sd850-8_0.jpg

Compared to the currently shipping Snapdragon 835, the new 850 will offer 30% better performance, 20% better battery life, and even 20% faster peak Gigabit LTE speeds, up to 1.2 Gbps. Both the CPU and GPU integrations definitely faster with the SD 850 compared to the older 835, each seeing architectural changes as well as clock speed increases. That 30% performance increase estimate is evenly weighted across the two primary processing blocks, 30% each.

Efficiency is also improved on each sub-core, giving Qualcomm the ability to lower idle and active power draw, increasing the battery life estimates of the total platform. Considering this is one of the areas where Qualcomm already had a lead over the best Intel options on the market, this is noteworthy, and something that likely concerns Intel.

Continuing reading our preview of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 850!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Overview

The initial announcement of Intel and AMD's collaboration on the "8th Gen Intel® Core™ processors With Radeon™ RX Vega M Graphics" (Kaby Lake-G) at CES this year caused a big stir amongst the PC hardware space. 

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Now that we've taken a look at the Intel Hades Canyon NUC and its impressive performance compared to mid-range gaming desktops, it's time to take a look at Kaby Lake-G in the mobile form factor.

Dell's XPS 15 2-in-1 is one of two notebooks utilizing the Intel Kaby Lake-G processor with Vega graphics, alongside the HP Envy Spectre x360.

DSC04941.JPG

Building upon the successful standard clamshell, this new notebook is Dell's first convertible XPS 15, featuring a 360-degree hinge which allows for a variety of configurations including tablet mode where the device folds back on itself.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
MSRP $1299 $1499 $1699 $2199
Screen 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch Display 15.6" 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch Display
CPU Core i5-8305G Core i7-8705G 
GPU AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics with 4GB HBM2 Memory
RAM 8GB DDR4-2400 (non-upgradable) 16GB DDR4-2400 (non-upgradable)
Storage 128GB SATA 256GB PCIe
Network Killer 1435 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth
Display Output

2 x Thunderbolt 3
2 x USB 3.1 Type-C (DisplayPort)

Connectivity

2 x Thunderbolt 3
2 x USB 3.1 Type-C
3.5mm headphone
MicroSD Card Reader

Audio Waves MaxxAudio® Pro 2W (1W x 2)
Weight 4.36 lbs (2 Kg)
Dimensions 13.9-in x 9.2-in x 0.36-0.63-in
(354mm x 235mm x 9-1mm)
Battery 75 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home / Pro (+$60)

As far as specifications are concerned, the XPS 15 2-in-1 impresses.. With up to a 4K, touch-enabled display, quad core processor, discrete AMD Vega graphics, and up to 16GB of memory, the hardware of the XPS 15 2-in-1 is a compelling package for gamers and content creators alike. For review, we recieved the top of the line XPS 15 2-in-1, with a 512GB SSD instead of the stock 256GB configuration (a $150 upgrade from Dell).

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Continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1!

Fancy the underdog? HTC has the new U12+ available

Subject: Mobile | May 28, 2018 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: htc, U12+, smartphone

HTC has been having Nokia-like difficulties in the smartphone market, but they refuse to give up ... perhaps because of what Microsoft did to Nokia. That hasn't stopped them from putting out new phones, and interesting ones at that.  The camera on this phone is almost, but not quite as good as the one found on the new Pixel but The Register found the overall performance and features of the HTC to be superior and significantly better priced.  Check out their hands on review here.

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"HTC's only flagship smartphone of 2018 – the U12+ – looks like a sensibly priced alternative to the Pixel and Galaxy, without the eccentricities and flaws of the Huawei P20 Pro."

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Source: The Register

A new year means a new Yoga 920

Subject: Mobile | May 22, 2018 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 920, Lenovo, yoga, Kaby Lake R

Lenovo has been updating their Yoga lineup for more than a few years now, with the 920 model being one of the more popular models in recent years.   This refresh keeps the same body and watchband hinge, instead the updates are all hidden inside.  The base model features a Kaby Lake R Core i7-8550U, 8 GB of DDR4-2400, a 256GB NVMe SSD and a 1080p display, these can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe drive and a 4k display if you so choose.  Regardless of the display you choose, the touchscreen has been developed by Wacom and offers 4096 levels of sensitivity which makes grabbing a stylus a very good idea, though including one would have been even better.

Take a look at Techgage's full review to see how the new Yoga 920 performs as well as more details about the included features.

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"Lenovo’s Yoga series has long been respected for its notebooks’ ability to bend to your will, and the 920 (14) proves to be one of the best models the series has seen. With its incredibly sturdy design, sharp watchband hinge, super-thin frame, and beautiful aesthetics, the Yoga 920 is the ultralight 2-in-1 to consider."

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Source: Techgage

Google, Qualcomm Partner for Faster Android P Upgrade Adoption

Subject: Mobile | May 9, 2018 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon, sd636, sd 845, sd 660, qualcomm, android p

It's no secret that one of the easiest to point out critiques of Android is the lack of major software updates for the majority of handsets. While this has gotten slightly better over the years, new Android releases still take a substantial amount of time to roll out to existing phones, if they do at all.

However, with Android 8.0 (Oreo), Google began to address some of the core technical issues preventing phone manufacturers from quickly releasing software updates through an initiative they call Project Treble.

project-treble.png

Essentially, Project Treble decouples the Android Operating System from the proprietary software bits such as drivers needed to provide support for a given SoC. Instead, Android 8.0 and up moves the SoC support to a separate software layer, which a vendor like Qualcomm can universally implement for their SoCs and pass to a handset maker, instead of needing to be implemented into software updates for each specific model of phone.

Qualcomm announced earlier this week that they have been working with Google ahead of the Android P developer preview release to "pre-integrate" support for the next version of the operating system with Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered devices, specifically devices with Snapdragon 845, 660 and 636.

android-p.png

We are already starting to see some of this work pay off, with an expanded list of devices that are already compatible with the Android P developer preview, as compared to previous Android betas.

IMG_8130.jpg

In addition to the standard Google development devices, the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL, other various other phone makers are rolling out options to enroll in the Android P developer preview program, including:

  • Essential Phone (Snapdragon 835)
  • Nokia 7 Plus (Snapdragon 660)
  • Oppo R15 Pro (Snapdragon 660)
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 (Snapdragon 845)
  • Vivo X21 & X21UD (Snapdragon 660)
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Snapdragon 845)

Despite Qualcomm's work with Google on Android P "pre-integration", the ball remains in the court of OEMs like Samsung, and carriers to push these updates through to consumers.

Source: Qualcomm

Microsoft releases 64-bit SDK for Windows on Arm platforms

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 8, 2018 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, windows on arm, microsoft, 64-bit

During the Microsoft BUILD developer conference, the Windows initiative for Qualcomm and Arm processors got a much needed shot in the arm (heh) with announced support for a 64-bit SDK.

Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 1 contains the early version of these tools that will give developers the ability to build native 64-bit Arm apps. Microsoft claims that this “represents the next step in the evolution of the Always Connected PC running Windows 10 on ARM” and I couldn’t agree more.

qcwindows.jpg

This gives software developers the ability to target Arm-based processors like the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm natively without forcing users to depend on emulation layers provided by Microsoft. While the emulation layer is critical for compatibility, it does slow performance quite a bit compared to native-running code.

While the Windows Store already supports ARM32 packages, ARM64 packages will be supported “soon” based on what Microsoft is telling us. Even more interesting, Microsoft is promoting the ability for developers to post the Win32 (non-Store) ARM64 version of software online, rather than waiting for the Store apps to be approved.

The Microsoft website has details on how developers can start this integration. Qualcomm has its own documentation as well.

From my own view, this a necessary step for Microsoft to take, even if it does seem later than many would have liked. The benefits of Windows 10 running on Snapdragon and Arm are real and substantial, but being hindered by performance due to emulation was always known to be a speedbump. Getting developers access to better, and easier to use, Arm compilation is the next step.

I would also like to see Microsoft take a more proactive role in pushing developers to offer both versions of software. MS simply cannot take a passive, backseat approach to the Always On, Always Connected PC initiative and have it be a success.

Source: Microsoft