Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 8, 2015 - 10:05 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: dell, XPS 15, InfinityEdge, laptop, notebook, Skylake, i3-6100H, i5-6300HQ, i7-6700HQ, GTX 960M
The redesigned Dell XPS 15 is here, now a larger clone of the popular XPS 13 including the same minuscule “InfinityEdge” display and featuring optional 4K resolution.
Image credit: Engadget
The XPS 13 is among the highest-rated Windows laptops of the past year, and the preferred notebook of our own Ryan Shrout. Dell certainly had a big design win with a 13-inch screen on a laptop that would normally only house an 11.6-inch display, thanks to the razor-thin bezel surrounding the LCD panel. This InfinityEdge display makes a lot of sense for the larger XPS 15, and the newly redesigned notebook now occupies the space of a mere 14-inch notebook, while offering both FHD and UHD/4K screen resolutions.
What good would a beautiful screen be without the horsepower to drive it? For this Dell has implemented the latest 6th Generation Intel Skylake mobile processors, namely the Core i3-6100H, Core i5-6300HQ, and Core i7-6700HQ. Graphics duties are performed either by the integrated Intel HD 530 or an NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU, and 8GB of DDR4 memory comes standard with options up to 32GB available (and this is SoDIMM memory so users can upgrade later as well).
Image credit: Windows Central
- 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7 GHz)
- 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
- 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
- Display: 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) InfinityEdge display or 15.6" UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
- RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB DDR4 at 2133 MHz (32GB post-RTS) (2 x SoDIMMs)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
- Storage: 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
- 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, or 1TB PCIe SSD
- Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam
- Ports and Connectors: HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2), Headset Jack, SD card reader, Kensington Lock slot, Thunderbolt 3
- Dimensions: 11-17mm x 357mm x 235mm
- Weight: Non-touch, starting at 3.9 lbs; Touch, starting at 4.4 lbs
The new Dell XPS 15 is available today and prices start at $999.
Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce
Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.
The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.
An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections.
The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.
While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.
UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.
The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.
Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.
The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.
Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included.
Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options.
Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 01:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface, Skylake, microsoft, iris, Intel, edram
Microsoft has finally revealed the next product in the Surface Pro tablet lineup, skipping the Broadwell processor generation and jumping straight to the latest Intel Skylake processors. The design is very similar to previous Surface Pro tablets but the upgrades and changes made for the Surface Pro 4 are impressive.
The kickstand design that has made the Surface recognizable remains the same but there is a solid collection of new features including a fingerprint reader and Microsoft Hello support for security and login. The new Pro 4 model is only 8.4mm thick (coming in just about 1mm thinner than the Pro 3) and is also lighter at 1.73 lbs.
The screen size is 12.3-inches with a 2736 x 1824 3:2 resolution for a pixel density of 267 PPI. It has a 10-point touch interface with drastically improved latency, palm detection and pressure sensitivity for the included Surface Pen. Even better, that improved Surface Pen will have a full year of battery life along with magnetic attachment to the tablet rather than relying on a elastic loop!
The Surface keyboard sees improvements as well including better spacing on the keys, quieter and more reliable typing and it also becomes the thinnest type cover MS has yet to build for the Surface line. A 5-point touch glass trackpad is now part of the deal, 40% larger than the one found on the Pro 3 - a welcome modification for anyone that has used the type cover in the past.
In terms of computing horsepower, the Surface Pro 4 will be available with a Core m3, Core i5 or even a Core i7 processor. It will ship with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of system memory and internal storage capacities as high as 1TB. Microsoft hasn't posted any more details about the clock speeds of these CPUs but if you look at the awesome hype video MS made for the Pro 4 launch, you'll notice an interesting thing in the exploded view: an Intel processor with three dies on a single package.
What you are seeing is the Skylake CPU, chipset and an eDRAM package. This tells us that at least one of the available options for the Surface Pro 4 will ship with Iris graphics and 64MB or 128MB of L4 cache / eDRAM - a first for this form factor! This should help improve performance for graphics as well as other specific CPU compute workloads.
Other highlights for the Surface Pro 4 include front facing stereo speakers, 8MP rear-facing camera and a fancy-ass Windows 10 logo.
Pricing will START at $899 but will spike to as high as $2699 if you max out the processor and storage options.
We are working on getting a unit in for testing as the devices are going up for presale today and should arrive by October 26th.
Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, android 6.0, Android
Android 6.0 was launched yesterday, and Ars Technica has, so far, been the only outlet to give it a formal review. That said, it is a twelve-page review with a table of contents -- so that totally counts for five or so.
The main complaint that the reviewer has is the operating system's inability to be directly updated. There is a large chain of rubber stamps between Google's engineers and the world at large. Carriers and phone manufacturers can delay (or not even attempt to certify) patches for their many handsets. It is not like Windows, where Microsoft controls the centralized update service. In the beginning, this wasn't too big of an issue as updates were typically for features. Sucker, buy a new phone if you want WebGL.
Now it's about security. Granted, it has always been about security, even on the iPhone, we just care more now. If you think about it, every time a phone gets jailbroken, a method exists to steal admin privileges away from Apple and give them to... the user. Some were fairly sophisticated processes involving USB tethering to PCs, while others involved browsing to a malicious website with a payload that the user (but not Apple) wanted to install. Hence why no-one cared: the security was being exploited by the user for the user. It was only a matter of time before either the companies sufficiently crush the bugs, or it started to be tasty for the wolves.
And Google is getting bit.
Otherwise, Ars Technica mostly praised the OS. Be sure to read their review to get a full sense of their opinion. As far as I can tell, they only tested it on the Nexus 5.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2015 - 08:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, iot
Microsoft has released the Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2. It retails for 75$ without the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, or $115$ with it. Apart from the optional Pi, it is basically a pack of electronic components and an SD card that's pre-loaded with Windows 10 IoT. It is available at the Adafruit store, although both packs are currently out of stock... because of course they are.
Beyond jumper wires, a case, breadboards, resistors, LEDs, switches, and sensors, the pack also comes with a WiFi module. Interestingly, Adafruit claims that this will be the only WiFi adapter for the Raspberry Pi 2 that's supported by Windows 10 IoT. This is weird, of course, because Windows is kind-of the go-to when it comes to driver support. It makes me wonder whether Microsoft changed anything under the hood that affects hardware compatibility and, if it did, whether Windows 10 IoT loses its major advantage over Linux and other OSes in this form factor.
The kit is currently sold up, but retails for $75, or $115 with a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B.
Subject: Mobile | October 2, 2015 - 04:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Tegra X1, tablet, pixel, nvidia, google, android 6.0, Android
During its latest keynote event, Google unveiled the Pixel C, a powerful tablet with optional keyboard that uses NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 SoC and runs the Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” operating system.
The Pixel C was designed by the team behind the Chromebook Pixel. Pixel C features an anodized aluminum body that looks (and reportedly feels) smooth with clean lines and rounded corners. The tablet itself is 7mm thick and weighs approximately one pound. The front of the Pixel C is dominated by a 10.2” display with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 (308 PPI, 500 nits brightness), wide sRGB color gamut, and 1:√2 aspect ratio (which Google likened to the size and aspect ratio of an A4 sheet of paper). A 2MP front camera sits above the display while four microphones sit along the bottom edge and a single USB Type-C port and two stereo speakers sit on the sides of the tablet. Around back, there is an 8MP rear camera and a bar of LED lights that will light up to indicate the battery charge level after double tapping it.
The keyboard is an important part of the Pixel C, and Google has given it special attention to make it part of the package. The keyboard attaches to the tablet using self-aligning magnets that are powerful enough to keep the display attached while holding it upside down and shaking it (not that you'd want to do that, mind you). It can be attached to the bottom of the tablet for storage and used like a slate or you can attach the tablet to the back of the keyboard and lift the built-in hinge to use the Pixel C in laptop mode (the hinge can hold the display at anywhere from 100 to 135-degrees). The internal keyboard battery is good for two months of use, and can be simply recharged by closing the Pixel C like a laptop and allowing it to inductively charge from the tablet portion. The keyboard is around 2mm thick and is nearly full size at 18.85mm pitch and the chiclet keys have a 1.4mm travel that is similar to that of the Chromebook Pixel. There is no track pad, but it does offer a padded palm rest which is nice to see.
Internally, the Pixel C is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage (depending on model). The 20nm Tegra X1 consists of four ARM Cortex A57 and four Cortex A53 CPU cores paired with a 256-core Maxwell GPU. The Pixel C is a major design win for NVIDIA, and the built in GPU will be great for gaming on the go.
The Pixel C will be available in December ("in time for the holidays") for $499 for the base 32 GB model, $599 for the 64 GB model, and $149 for the keyboard.
First impressions, such as this hands-on by Engadget, seem to be very positive stating that it is sturdy yet sleek hardware that feels comfortable typing on. While the hardware looks more than up to the task, the operating system of choice is a concern for me. Android is not the most productivity and multi-tasking friendly software. There are some versions of Android that enable multiple windows or side-by-side apps, but it has always felt rather clunky and limited in its usefulness. With that said, Computer World's JR Raphael seems hopeful. He points out that the Pixel C is, in Batman fashion, not the hardware Android wants, but the hardware that Android needs (to move forward) and is primed for a future of Android that is more friendly to such productive endeavors. Development versions of Android 6.0 included support for multiple apps running simultaneously side-by-side, and while that feature will not make the initial production code cut, it does show that it is something that Google is looking into pursuing and possibly enabling at some point. The Pixel C has an excellent aspect ratio to take advantage of the app splitting with the ability to display four windows each with the same aspect ratio.
I am not sure how well received the Pixel C will be by business users who have several convertible tablet options running Windows and Chrome OS. It certainly gives the iPad-and-keyboard combination a run for its money and is a premium alternative to devices like the Asus Transformers.
What do you think about the Pixel C, and in particular, it running Android?
Even if I end up being less-than-productive using it, I think I'd still want the sleek-looking hardware as a second machine, heh.
Subject: Mobile | October 2, 2015 - 02:02 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: LG, ultrathin, Broadwell, ips display
Earlier this week, LG revealed three new notebooks under its Gram series that are set to compete with Apple’s Macbook Air (The Verge has a photo comparison of the two) and various Ultrabooks from other manufacturers (e.g. Lenovo and Asus). The new series includes one 13-inch and two 14-inch laptops that weigh in at 2.16 pounds and are 0.5” thick. The LG Gram with 13” display is the smallest of the bunch at 11.9” x 8.4” x 0.5” and the chassis is constructed of magnesium and polycarbonate (plastic). Meanwhile, the two notebooks with the 14” display measure 12.8” x 8.94” x 0.5” and feature a body made from a combination of carbon-magnesium and lithium-magnesium alloys. The difference in materials accounts for the larger notebooks hitting the same weight target (2.16 lbs).
The 14-inch LG Gram 14 (gram-14Z950-A.AA4GU1) notebook.
LG is packing every Gram notebook with a 1080p IPS display (13.3 or 14 inches), dual mics, a 1.3 MP webcam, six row island-style keyboard, and a spacious track pad. External IO includes two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, micro SD card slot, and a micro USB port that (along with the included dongle) supports the 10/100 Ethernet network connection.
The base Gram 13-inch comes in Snow White while both Gram 14-inch notebooks are clad in Champagne Gold.
The LG Gram 13 Broadwell-powered laptop (gram-13Z950-A.AA3WU1).
Internally, LG has opted to go with Intel’s Broadwell processor and its built-in HD 5500 GPU. The LG Gram 13 uses the Intel Core i5-5200U (2 cores, 4 threads at 2.2-2.7GHz). The 14-inch models can be configured with an Intel i5 or an Intel Core i7-5500U which is a dual core (with HyperThreading for four threads) processor clocked at 2.4 GHz that can boost to 3.0 GHz. Additional specifications include 8GB of DDR3L memory, a solid state drive (128 GB on the Gram 13, up to 256 GB on the Gram 14), Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and rated battery life of up to 7.5 hours (which is not great, but not too bad).
The Gram series is LG’s first major thin-and-light entry into the US market, and while there are some compromises made to get the portability, the price points are competitive and seem to be priced right. Interestingly, LG is aiming these notebooks as Macbook Air competitors, allegedly offering you a larger, yet lighter, notebook. It is not actually the lightest notebook on the market, however. Below is a brief point of (weight) comparison to some of the major recent thin-and-lights, the Gram is going up against:
- 12” Apple MacBook: 2.03 lbs
- 11” Apple MacBook Air: 2.38 lbs
- 13” Apple MacBook Air: 2.96 lbs
- 13.3" ASUS Zenbook UX305FA (Core M): 2.65 lbs
- 13.3" ASUS Zenbook UX301LA (Core i7): 3.08 lbs
- 13.3” LaVie Z: 1.87 lbs
- 13.3” LaVie Z 360: 2.04 lbs
- 12.2" Samsung ATIV Book 9: 2.09 lbs
We will have to wait for reviews to see how the build quality stacks up, especially the 14-inch models using the lithium-magnesium bodies which, while light, may not be the sturdiest flex-wise. If they can hold up to the stress of the daily commuter, the retail pricing is far from exorbitant and if you can live with the compromises fairly attractive.
Subject: Mobile | October 1, 2015 - 07:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nexus 6p, google, Android
The Nexus 6P is new from Google and is designed to compete directly against the new Apple devices, with an all aluminium body and a new USB Type-C connection for charging. One of the benefits of the new USB is in the charging speed, which Google claims will give you 7 hours of usage off of a 10 minute charge. They have also added a 12.3MP camera complete with a 1.55μm sensor, though in the style of the Nokia Lumia 1520, that camera does project beyond the casing. The 5.7in 2560x1440 AMOLED screen is made of Gorilla Glass 4 and is powered by a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 octa-core processor, which may display that chips tendency to get a little warm during use. The Inquirer has not had a chance to fully review the Nexus 6P but you can catch their preview right here.
"THE NEXUS 6P is the first truly premium Android device from Google. Last year's Nexus 6 divided opinion with its bulky design and lacklustre features, but the firm is hoping that its successor, with the premium case and next-gen specs, will finally fill the void for those after a stock Android device."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- ASUS ZenFone 2 Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Asus ZenPad S 8.0 @ Kitguru
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S Review @ Hardware Secrets
- B2C Telecom Premium Custom Bookstyle Case for iPhone Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2015 - 02:45 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android
PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.
Full Story Listing:
- Day 0: What to Expect
- Day 3: Widgets and Live Photos
- Day 6: Battery Life and Home Screens
- Day 17: SoC Performance
- Day 31: Battery Life and Closing
It probably won’t come as a shock to the millions of iPhone users around the globe, but the more days I keep the 6s in my pocket, the more accepting I am becoming with the platform. The phone has been fast and reliable – I have yet to come across any instability or application crashes despite my incessant installations of new ones. And while I think it’s fair to say that even new Android-based phones feel snappy to user interactions out of the box, the iPhone is just about a week in without me ever thinking about performance – which is exactly what you want from a device like this.
There are some quirks and features missing from the iPhone 6s that I had on my Droid Turbo that I wish I could implement in settings or through third-party applications. I fell in love with the ability to do a double wrist rotation with the Droid as a shortcut to opening up the camera. It helped me capture quite a few photos when I only had access to a single hand and without having to unlock the phone, find an icon, etc. The best the iPhone has is a “drag up from the bottom” motion from the lock screen but I find myself taking several thumb swipes on it before successfully activating it when only using one hand. Trying to use the home button to access the lock screen, and thus the camera shortcut, is actually hindered because the Touch ID feature is TOO FAST, taking me to a home screen (that may not have the camera app icon on it) where I need to navigate around.
I have been a user of the Pebble Time since it was released earlier this year and I really enjoy the extended battery life (measured in days not hours) when compared to Android Wear devices or the Apple Watch. However, the capabilities of the Pebble Time are more limited with the iPhone 6s than they are with Android – I can no longer use voice dictation to reply to text messages or emails and the ability to reply with easy templates (yes, no, I’ll be there soon, etc.) is no longer available. Apple does not allow the same level of access to the necessary APIs as Android does and thus my Time has effectively become a read-only device.
Finally, my concern about missing widgets continues to stir within me; it is something that I think the iPhone 6s could benefit from greatly. I also don’t understand the inability to arrange the icons on the home screens in an arbitrary fashion. Apple will not let me move icons to the bottom of the page without first filling up every other spot on the screen – there can be no empty spaces!! So while my organizational style would like to have a group of three icons in the bottom right hand corner of the screen with some empty space around it, Apple doesn’t allow me to do that. If I want those icons in that location I need to fill up every empty space on the screen to do so. Very odd.
Subject: Mobile | September 30, 2015 - 02:33 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X12 Modem, SoC, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, phones, mu-mimo, mobile, LTE, cell phones
The upcoming Snapdragon 820 is shaping up to be a formidable SoC after the disappointing response to the previous flagship, the Snapdragon 810, which was in far fewer devices than expected for reasons still shrouded in mystery and speculation. One of the biggest aspects of the upcoming 820 is Qualcomm’s new X12 modem, which will provide the most advanced LTE connectivity seen to date when the SoC launches. The X12 features CAT 12 LTE downlink speeds for up to 600 Mbps, and CAT 13 on the uplink for up to 150 Mbps.
LTE connectivity isn’t the only new thing here, as we see from this slide there is also tri-band Wi-Fi supporting 2x2 MU-MIMO.
“This is the first publicly announced processor for use in mobile devices to support LTE Category 12 in the downlink and Category 13 in the uplink, providing up to 33 percent and 200 percent improvement over its predecessor’s download and upload speeds, respectively.”
The specifications for this new modem are densely packed:
- Cat 12 (up to 600 Mbps) in the downlink
- Cat 13 (up to 150 Mbps) in the uplink
- Up to 4x4 MIMO on one downlink LTE carrier
- 2x2 MU-MIMO (802.11ac)
- Multi-gigabit 802.11ad
- LTE-U and LTE+Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)
- Next Gen HD Voice and Video calling over LTE and Wi-Fi
- Call Continuity across Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, and 2G
- RF front end innovations
- Advanced Closed Loop Antenna Tuner
- Qualcomm RF360™ front end solution with CA
- Wi-Fi/LTE antenna sharing
Rumored phones that could end up running the Snapdragon 820 with this X12 modem include the Samsung Galaxy S7 and around 30 other devices, though final word is of course pending on shipping hardware.