Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Introduction, Design, User Interface

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Dell has long tried to enter the high-end luxury laptop market. These attempts have always been met with mixed results. While Dell’s thick, power and relatively affordable XPS laptops are a good pick for people needing a desktop replacement, they don’t cause the thinness-obsessed media to salivate. 

Enter the Dell XPS 15z. It’d be easy to think that it’s a MacBook Pro clone considering its similar pricing and silver exterior, but reality is simpler then that. This is just an XPS 15 that has been slimmed down. Like the standard XPS laptops, the 15z follows a form-balanced-by-function approach that is common among all of Dell’s laptops. 

Slimming the chassis has forced the use of some less powerful components, but our review unit still arrived with some impressive hardware. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 15z notebook!!

Intel Medfield powered cellphone appears ... in the Orient

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 19, 2012 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: atom, Medfield

The new Atom processor, named Medfield, has appeared in a market far, far away.  The chip powering Lava's Xolo X900 runs at 1.6GHz and supports hyperthreading, the graphics core is clocked at 400MHz which Intel believes should be enough to allow it to output 1080p video via its HDMI plug.  The power efficiency of the new architecture has yet to be tested but the claim by the manufacturer is eight hours of talk time and five hours of 3G web browsing.  There are no available benchmarks yet but you can get an idea of the overall capabilities of this phone at The Inquirer.

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"Intel and Indian handset maker Lava announced their intention to ship an Atom smartphone at Mobile World Congress in January. However Lenovo's K800 received all the attention, so Lava's Xolo X900 slipped under the radar to become the first shipping smartphone to feature Intel's Medfield Atom processor."

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Source: The Inquirer

Why do cell phones get all the dots?

Subject: Mobile | April 17, 2012 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: DPI

While laptops seem stuck at the horrible resolution of 1366 x 786 no matter how big the screen, cellphones have evolved from 320 x 240 to as much as 1280 x 720.  In other words there are cellphone models out there with almost the same amount of pixels as a 17" laptop.  This means the dots per inch rating on a cellphone is significantly higher, making colours richer in light, text sharper and video more crisp than that $1000+ laptop you just picked up.  The Tech Report doesn't feel that this is in any way, shape or form fair; they do have a good idea why it is so however.

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"The explosion of high-DPI displays in phones and tablets has upset David Morgan's PC enthusiast sensibilities, as he explains:"

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Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 14, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: valve, wearable computers

Valve has been under the public eye since rumors of The Steam Box broke. To put out the rumors, Michael Abrash -- now at Valve -- announced their mystery project investigates computing devices that you can wear.

Great, that is just what we need, more Steam punks and their costumes.

Valve has traditionally been somewhat of a quiet company accustomed to public speculation. In a change of pace from the typical cries to release Half Life 2: Episode 3, Valve has recently been subject to rumors about breaking into the hardware business. In another change of pace, Valve has announced their hardware project is wearable computers and publicly solicited for job applicants to join in the research.

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Want me to show you my knife collection?

(Photo Credit, Giant Bomb)

Michael Abrash wrote in his blog on Valve’s website what his work is based on and it is quite similar to what Google is looking at with their augmented reality glasses.

By “wearable computing” I mean mobile computing where both computer-generated graphics and the real world are seamlessly overlaid in your view; there is no separate display that you hold in your hands (think Terminator vision).

While this is very interesting, it still remains to be seen where Valve intends to be involved with this project. Steam is pushing out from the desktop PC to the home theatre with their Big Picture UI and what that could potentially spread out into.

It is entirely possible that Google and Valve both see some link between Steam/Google TV and Wearable Computers/Augmented Reality glasses that we are just unable to perceive yet and are lunging for the same target. While the blog posting is very interesting, it still reveals little about the technology itself.

Also, this announcement does not mean that Valve is not working on a hardware platform to accompany The Big Picture, it just says more about what Valve is currently working on in secret. The previous rumors could still have some shred of truth in them.

As for when we will see wearable computing? It’s still a long ways out in Valve time.

To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development.

So, which will we see first? Valve augmented reality devices, or the stunning conclusion to Gordon Freeman’s story-arc? That is a bet that will require one heck of a patient bookie to make.
Source: Valve

HP dm4 Beats Edition Available For As Little As $798

Subject: Mobile | April 9, 2012 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: review, laptop, hp, dm4

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Pricing research is an important part of our laptop reviews. We always price out the laptops we receive on the website of the manufacturer and popular e-tailers, such as Amazon and Newegg. We also look at similarly priced laptops to judge how well a product’s value stacks up against the competition.  

Still, mistakes happen. HP altered us to one such error in our recent HP dm4 review. In that review we discovered that the HP dm4 Beats Edition cost $1169 if customized with the hardware we received, which was far too much given the laptop’s entry-level roots. However, we missed a quick-ship option that configures the laptop as it was received for just $899. That’s $270 less. 

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HP also told us that Wal-Mart is selling the HP dm4 Beats Edition. We looked in to it and found that the review configuration is currently out of stock, but if you don’t mind a slight downgrade in processor performance and the loss of the solid state drive, you can pick up the laptop for $798

Such a large difference in price would have an impact on any review, but it’s particularly important in this case. We didn’t find anything wrong with the laptop’s performance. We also praised its 1600x900 matte display and decent, though not excellent, user interface. It was the price we could not tolerate – paying HP Envy bucks for a gussied-up dm4 didn’t strike us as a great value.

The correction in pricing has resulted in a change in the review’s conclusion. The laptop now earns a Gold Award.  In fact, buying the pre-configured dm4 Beats Edition actually appears less expensive than buying the basic HP dm4 when it is configured to match the hardware found in our review unit. So-so battery life and unexceptional design are now the only traits holding it back from an Editor’s Choice.

Source: HP

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Specifications Sheet Leaks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 7, 2012 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, SoC, nvidia, mobile

The Chinese language VR-Zone website has allegedly managed to get their hands on a leaked specifications sheet for NVIDIA’s upcoming Tegra 4 System-on-a-chip (SoC) aimed at mobile tablets. Codenamed “Wayne,” the new SoC will come in several flavors and will arrive next year.

The upcoming chips will have 10x the performance of NVIDIA’s original Tegra and five times the performance of the current generation Kal-El Tegra 3 chip. NVIDIA has run into several hurdles in integrating an LTE cell radio into their SoCs, but if the leaked document is true, the company will finally release a Tegra chp with built-in LTE 100 and HSPA42 cell radio capabilities as early as the third quarter of 2013.

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Further, the Tegra 4 SoCs will come in four flavors: T40, T43, AP40, and SP3X. T40 will represent the first Tegra 4 chp that manufacturers and consumers will be able to get their hands on -- as early as Q1 2013. It is a quad core part with one companion core and will run at 1.8 GHz. T43 is an evolution of the T40 and will bump up the clockspeed to 2.0 GHz. The AP40 chip will be the first budget Tegra 4 processor and will run anywhere between 1.2 GHz and 1.8 GHz. The T43 and AP40 SoCs are reportedly coming out in Q3 2013. All three chips -- The T40, T43, and AP40 -- are based on the ARM Cortex A15 architecture.

  T40 T43 AP40 SP3X
Release Date Q1 2013 Q3 2013 Q3 2013 Q3 2013
Markets Aimed At Flagship Flagship Mainstream Mainstream
Tablet Device Screen Size 10" 10" 10" 7"
Processor Clockspeed 1.8 GHz 2.0 GHz 1.2-1.8 GHz 1.2-2.0 GHz
Core Count 4+1 4+1 4+1 4+1
Chip Architecture A15 A15 A15 A9
Cell Radio       LTE100/HSPA42

 

The final Tegra 4 chip is called SP3X, and it will arrive in Q3 2013. Aimed at mainstream tablets with 7” or smaller screens, the upcoming SoC will feature LTE support and will have a clockspeed of 1.2 GHz to 2.0 GHz. It is a quad core (plus one companion core) part but is reportedly based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture.  The leaked release dates do seem to be in line with earlier reports, though they should still be taken with your daily dose of salt.

 

Right now Tegra delivers on performance and many high end mobile devices have incorporated the NVIDIA chip. Even so, they still have very little market share, and the two mainstream Tegra 4 chips -- especially the SP3X with LTE radio -- should help them make inroads against Qualcomm and Samsung who hold a great deal of market share.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple, ASUS

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

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Tablets are growing in popularity, but the market is still immature. There are only a handful of serious contenders sold in North America (discounting the cheap knock-offs you can find on eBay and other sites). 

Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in terms of sales. It is trailed by similar Android-powered options like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Acer Iconia and (of coures) the ASUS Transformer Prime. We reviewed the Prime when it hit store shelves earlier this year and concluded that it was the best Android tablet money can buy. That makes a comparison with the new iPad obvious.

The constant stream of rants for or against Android and iOS devices in the media may lead you to think that the comparison between the two is highly subjective. I don’t believe that’s the case. There are a number of objective measurements that can be used to judge these products.

Yes, there is always going to be some degree of preference between operating systems, but we’re not really going to get into the iOS vs. Android argument here. That’s a topic that would require its own article, and most likely one several times longer than this comparison. Subjective points will be limited to design and ergonomics. 

Enough talk. It’s time for the competition to begin.

Continue reading our comparison of the new iPad (2012) and the ASUS Transformer Prime!!

Acer's Fermi powered Timeline Ultra M3

Subject: Mobile | April 5, 2012 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, acer, timeline ultra m3, timeline, aspire

Acer's Aspire series has gained an Ultrabook model, the Timeline Ultra M3.  Powered by an i5-2467M and bolstered by an NVIDIA GT 640M, this 15.6" 1366 x 768 ultrabook should be able to boot quickly thanks to the hybrid storage system which includes a 20GB mSATA SSD while the 500GB HDD offers storage at a lower price than a purely SSD solution would offer.  While it sounds good on paper, by the end of the review Hardware Canucks were very disappointed with its "ghastly trackpad, an unnecessary space consuming optical drive, testicle-searing exterior temperatures, a poor keyboard layout, a low resolution screen ...". 

If you think they were overly harsh, Matt was no kinder to it when he reviewed this Ultrabook.

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"Acer's new Timeline Ultra M3 blazes a path that no others have been willing to take. By incorporating one of NVIDIA's new GT 640M Kepler-based graphics processors within their design, they have become the first company to include a gaming-grade GPU into an Ultrabook. It sounds great but does this combination actually work out as planned? We find out."

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Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple
Tagged: tablet, ipad 3, ios, apple

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

Editor's note: You will find us calling this unit the "iPad 3" even though Apple doesn't really call it that. The confusion involved in calling it "the new iPad" over and over would just get slightly tedious.  Enjoy the review!!

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Apple’s iPad has been a roaring success. More than a few people had doubts that tablets could find a market, but the sneers shot in its direction at the launch of the original are now only memories. iPad has become a household name.

But it’s not easy being popular. Everyone is watching your next move. The iPhone 4S is a perfect example. Though it improved on the iPhone 4 it was still considered by some to be a disappointment. The bar had been set too high. 

That’s certainly a possibility with the iPad 3. Rumor-mongering went out of control prior to the release. Many were expecting a quad-core processor, while others suggested that the display would offer haptic feedback. Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

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Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

Continue reading our review of the new iPad (2012)!!

Raspberry Pi red tape: not scratch and sniff just more delays

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | March 30, 2012 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi has been further delayed while it acquires an additional certification to conform to British Law. The delay affects all regions because the products are shipped to the UK before being distributed internationally. The delay is expected to last just a couple of weeks.

It has almost been a year since the first announcement of the Raspberry Pi ultra-cheap PC and we can almost taste its arrival. Originally inspired by David Braben, developer of games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, the Raspberry Pi was built to cheaply enable students to learn computing.

As it turns out, the cost and performance of the device drew massive attention from the hobbyist and home theatre crowd. All interested parties will need to wait, however, as the product has been briefly delayed again because someone forgot to cross their t’s.

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C’mon, almost there, almost there.

All joking aside, the delay is quite small and minor and will still ship within their original target window. The delay was caused by the foundation failing to be granted a Conformité Européenne (CE) mark for their product. The CE certification is the direct analogy to the FCC’s electromagnetic (EM) noise certification which must be obtained for cellphones and other electronic devices in the United States. CE certification is expected to take just a couple of weeks.

Delivering a product is an involved task. I am willing to give the foundation a pass on this specific delay due to their lack of experience in their field. That is unless of course the product is found to interfere with EM broadcasts of some protected frequency. That -- would suck.

Then again, I have also not attempted to order a Raspberry Pi so perhaps my opinion is invalid. What do you think?

Source: TechRepublic