Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Alienware

Introduction, Design, User Interface

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Gaming. Laptop. Portable. These may well be the three most contradictory words in the PC industry. It’s been possible to game on laptops for years, but making a high-quality gaming experience portable is a goal rarely achieved.

Alienware made a stab at resolving the contradiction in 2010 when it released the M11x, but the result was questionable. No one can argue that the M11x isn’t portable, but its gaming performance is no better than a 15.6” laptop with mid-range discrete graphics. There simply isn’t enough room in the chassis to cool a larger, more powerful GPU. Worse, the M11x is simply too small for most people to use every day. 

Enter the Alienware M14x. The larger display size of this laptop makes it possible to equip a more powerful GPU as well as a full-power Core i5 processor rather than a low-voltage model. Let’s look at the full specifications.

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We can already see that the M14x will easily outperform its smaller cousin. The better hardware increases price as well as size, however – the base is $1099 and our review unit, featuring upgrades like a quad-core processor and 1600x900 resolution, rings in at $1274.

Continue reading our review of the Alienware m14x Gaming Notebook!!

MWC 12: Android 5.0 this fall? Google drops sweet hints.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 28, 2012 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, Android 5.0, Android

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is currently getting rolled out to compatible devices at a leisurely pace. The OS itself is for the most part well appreciated by both developers and end-users. As the rollout progresses and minor maintenance patches are created: Google is looking forward to the next major version.

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Just get Ice Cream Sandwich and they already talking about the future. U Jelly? : D

ComputerWorld went out to Barcelona to check out Mobile World Congress and of course could not resist reporting on Android. In an interview with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of Engineering for Mobile, we are treated to a few indirect statements about the next major version of Android.

The major release timeframe for Android is said to continue to be an annual endeavor. An annual release schedule would slate Android J (5.0) to an autumn timeframe. During the discussion, Lockheimer noted that there is flexibility with when developers wish to roll out updated. While that personally sounds like Google is allowing OEMs and carriers to take as long as they desire to implement the new Android releases it appears as if ComputerWorld has heard rumors of Android 5-power phones appearing as early as summer.

Despite ComputerWorld’s best effort, Google would not confirm the dessert associated with Android 5. Best guesses point to the name Jelly Bean, which are supported by a glass jar of Jelly Beans on the show floor.

MWC 2012: Nvidia Shows Off Tegra 3’s Muscles With 5 New Games

Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2012 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, MWC, mobile world congress, gaming

 Nvidia has always been happy to show off the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. No surprise there – the company’s roots are in PC graphics, which goes hand-in-hand with PC games. When we reviewed the Transformer Prime there were several beautiful pre-installed games, such as Shadowgun, that showed off the hardware. Now Nvidia has come up with not one but five more new titles to brag about at Mobile World Congress – including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Let’s have a look at them.

Dark Kingdom THD

This is a role-playing game built in the vein of games like Diablo and Torchlight. The visuals are impressive and a game like this should control well on a tablet, so this could prove to be an excellent title. I do wish the graphics offered more variety, however – they look a bit dark and dreary to me. 

Eden to GREEEEN THD


Hey, are you tired of tower defense games yet? I hope not, because that’s what Eden to GREEEEN is, albeit it one that has somewhat less restrictive mechanics than most titles in the genre. Of the games that Nvidia showed at Mobile World Congress this is easily the least attractive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to play.

Golden Arrow THD

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This is a hack-and-slash title that apparently will be including a lot of lens flare and explosions. I’m not sure that sounds appealing, but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. There’s no video available for this title right now, so we don’t have a lot to go on.

Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD

 

This game, which is already available on other platforms (you can even pick it up on Steam), is a puzzle game that asks players to navigate hazardous terrain on their quest to collect treasure and do over adventure-y things. The versions of this game that have come out for other platforms have received a fair amount of praise, so Nvidia is wise to be bragging about adding this to its stable.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II

 

 

Nvidia has been bragging about Tegra 3’s console-quality graphics, so why not poach one of console gaming’s most popular franchises? Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II looks to be a straight port of the version that will be available on game consoles, which means platforming at light speed with excellent 3D graphics. I sincerely hope that the controls are solid, because if so, this could be one of the best games on any tablet.

Availability for the titles shown by Nvidia is generally vague, but can be summed up as vaguely “spring.” The Sonic game, for example, will be coming out for Xbox 360 on May 16, so the tablet version will probably release sometime close to that date.

 

Source: Nvidia

Take a look at Dell's low cost Vostro line of laptops

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: dell, vostro V131

Dell's Vostro line offers a wide variety of models from a $400 Celeron ULV based model with 2GB of memory and a 320GB HDD to the $825 model that Hardware Canucks reivewed.  That model gives you more power, with an i5 2430M, 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD with a 13.3" 1366x768 LED screen.  The 6-cell battery doesn't quite last as long as models with an 8-cell battery but still beat most other competitors 6-cell models.  There were a few issues that arose during the review, not least of which is the lack of a dock.  For home users who do not worry about such extras, the review is well worth checking out.

 

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"Dell has been angling most of their product stack towards value oriented market segments and the newest addition to the Vostro lineup –the V131- seems to follow this same path but with some interesting twists along the way. As with many of Dell’s notebooks, it is available in a number of flavors ranging in price from just $399 to $900. Unfortunately, Dell's website has it is tucked away from the prying eyes of most end users."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

MWC 12: NVIDIA Roadmap Outlines Tegra's Future Including 4G and Die Shrink

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 3, tegra, tablets, nvidia, MWC 12, mobile, grey

This year is a big one for smaller silicon manufacturing processes with Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge, and NVIDIA and AMD moving to 28nm GPU processes. According to a report on VR-Zone, NVIDIA is already planning their next move for Tegra, including a die shrink to 28nm.

They managed to get their hands on a road map (shown below) for NVIDIA's Tegra SoC (system on a chip) lineup that extends into 2013. With Tegra 3, NVIDIA began by sampling the chip to Asus and the Transformer Prime. After that success, other partners and devices are starting to pick up the mobile chip, and they expect the situation to be the same for future Tegra iterations.

They company allegedly taped out a Tegra 4 (T40) SoC at the end of December 2011, and is starting to sample it to OEM partners to find someone to do a Tegra 3 like launch, with one device/platform to debut first and others to follow in later months.

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The Tegra 4 chip is code named "Wayne" and will be comprised of multiple ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores and a new GPU on a 28nm process. The company alos plans to show off a dual core 28nm SoC that uses two Cortex A15 CPU cores, a revamped GPU, and an Icera 4G LTE radio at Mobile World Congress 2013 next year.

Further, the roadmap details a new Tegra 3 chip that is intended to be used with Windows on ARM powered notebooks and tablets. While the new Tegra 3 (T35) SoC will not be a die shrink, it will have higher clock speeds due to less restrictions placed on the maximum TDP (thermal design power) allowed for the devices. VR-Zone estimates that the T35 chips will run somewhere between 1.6 GHz and 1.7 GHz.

Currently there are some incompatibilities with Tegra and 4G LTE radios which has caused some LTE devices to go with Qualcomm SoCs, so it is good to see NVIDIA working on improving compatibility and then integrating the basebands into their future SoCs to rectify the issue.

As far as this year is concerned, we should see the updated Tegra 3 chip and a new version of Tegra 2 that integrates a Icera 4G LTE baseband. The Wayne and Grey chips will likely not be released until 2013 at the earliest. The expanded Tegra portfolio should help them to gain some market share, though exactly how much remains to be seen.

Source: VR-Zone

MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: MWC, Transformer, tablet, padfone, mobile world congress, eee pad, asus, MWC 12, infinity, transformer prime

While attending CES last month, ASUS showed us a Transformer Prime with a full HD display. It looked great, but it did feel as if the branding would be a bit perplexing, as this new model would also be sold as a Prime.

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Apparently the company had this thought, as well. They’ve now unveiled the Transformer Pad Infinity Series, a new tablet with a 1920x1200 IPS+ display. It will come in two different variants. One is 4G LTE compatible and uses a Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait (whoa! Take a breath…) dual-core 1.5 GHz processor. The WiFi version, on the other hand, uses the now-familiar Nvidia Tegra 3. Both models have a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. They also share the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Infinity Series will be available in the same Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold finishes already available on the current Transformer Prime.

(Editor's Note) If you are wondering why the LTE version of the new Transformer Infinity is not using the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, we are hearing that the NVIDIA part is still not compatible with LTE radio controllers and won't be for another few months.  This is also why the new HTC One X smartphone doesn't use the Tegra 3 processor on the AT&T LTE network while other phones in the family do.  So will users of the LTE version of the Infinity miss the quad-core design when moving to the dual-core option from Qualcomm instead?  While we can't be sure, the new Krait design is a "wider" CPU with a better memroy interface yet still runs at similar clock speeds and it should be faster in single or lightly threaded programs.  

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This new flagship will slot above the Transformer Prime. But ASUS hasn’t just focused on the glitter and gold – they’ve also taken the wraps off the Transformer Pad 300, which is a new entry-level model. It features a 1280x800 IPS display and uses Tegra 3 in both the 4G LTE and WiFi models. The front camera is a 1.2MP unit and the rear camera is 8MP with LED flash. 16GB of internal storage is your only option. The 300 will offer new blue, white and red color schemes not yet available on any Transformer table

Both of these new models are Transformers, which means keyboard docks will be available as an option. They also include Android 4.0 and quote the same battery life of 10 hours without the dock.

Source: ASUS

MWC 12: Huawei enters the mobile SoC world with quad-core K3V2

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, quad-core, k3v2, k3, Huawei

Never heard of Huawei?  Well you will going forward.  The Chinese telecommunications company that claims 110,000 employees, 46% of which are planted in R&D departments, is entering in the market to compete against Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, NVIDIA and others by building an ARM-based SoC for its own mobile devices.

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Details are limited for now though we expect to hear more as Mobile World Congress progresses but here is what we know.  The Huawei K3V2 CPU will be a quad-core Cortex A9 part with "16 GPUs" - though we don't have any reference what is meant by "a GPU".  The A9s will run at either 1.2 GHz or 1.5 GHz and Huawei does mention that these will have 64-bit support a 64-bit memory controller as compared to the 32-bit controller on Tegra 3.

The company did have some performance claims that put the K3V2 ahead of the Galaxy Nexus (Exynos 3110) and ASUS Transformer Prime (Tegra 3).  If you believe in marketing slides the new Huawei CPU will be about twice as fast in GPU performance and 49% faster in purely CPU-based tests while using 30% less power.  Man, if we had a dollar for every time someone claimed these kinds of gains...

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Photo from TheVerge.com

Hopefully we'll see some tests on this new SoC soon in the form of the Huawei Ascend D quad phone available this year.

Source: The Verge

MWC 12: Intel branded, Atom-powered smartphone to be sold by Orange

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: z2460, SoC, smartphone, orange, MWC 12, MWC, Intel, atom z2460

Reuters is reporting that European cell phone carrier Orange will be selling a reference design Medfield smartphone under the Intel brand name.  The Atom Z2460 SoC will find its first major distributor to be one of the world's largest service providers - this could potentially be a big opening for Intel in a market it desperately wants to compete for.

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I find it very interesting that not only has Intel developed a processor that has finally garnered attention for the mobile market but the team at Intel has built a reference design that was fine tuned enough to direct sell to consumers.  Will the company avoid becoming a typical, low margin SoC company by focusing on vertical implementations like this one?  It is an interesting thought and no other vendor has really done it, with possibly the exception of Samsung that owns the entire device process already.

Anandtech has the major specifications of the phone, codenamed "Santa Clara":

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These are basically identical to the reference design we saw at CES with only some minor changes to the form factor.  Ice Cream Sandwich isn't included out the gate but we are hoping the upgrade will get pushed soon since Intel showed ICS on the Atom SoC in January.

I haven't been able to find anything about availability or pricing yet but I'll be sure to report it when I find it.  The mobile market continues to intrigue...

Source: Reuters

Nokia World's Largest Windows Phone OS Smartphone Vendor in Q4 2011

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: WP7, windows phone, smartphone, nokia, mobile, microsoft, marketshare

Last year Nokia and Microsoft announced a partner ship that would combine Nokia's hardware with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. Back then, the move by Nokia to abandon Maemo, MeeGo, and Symbian was not a popular one; however, it does seem to have worked out well for the company (despite some burned bridges).

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According to a new report by Strategy Analytics, not only have Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices proved a popular choice, but the company has managed to propel itself to 33.1% marketshare; a number that makes Nokia the world's largest Windows Phone smartphone vendor in Q4 2011. Further, the company shipped just under 1 million units in Q4 2011 while the market as a whole saw 2.7 million units shipped. That is a significant jump from the previous quarter where Nokia did not ship any units and the market as a whole shipped only 2 million.

  Vendor Shipments (Millions) Q3'11 Vendor Shipments (Millions) Q4'11 Vendor Marketshare (%) Q3'11 Vendor Marketshare (%) Q4'11
Nokia 0.0 0.9 0% 33.1%
Others 2.0 1.8 100% 66.9%
Total 2 Million Units 2.7 Million Units 100% 100%

 

While Nokia does not yet have majority share of the Windows Phone smartphone market all to themselves, they do have the most marketshare of any single vendor. The increased presence of Nokia helped the Windows Phone market as a whole see a total quarter over quarter growth of 36%, according to the report. Further, Director of Strategy Analytics Tom Kang noted that Nokia managed to snag most of it's marketshare from HTC who is also losing ground in the Android market to rival Samsung.

Neil Mawston, the Executive Director of Strategy Analytics determined that the Nokia Lumia WP7 smartphone series, and increased marketing and retail presence in Asian and European countries significantly helped Nokia grow it's marketshare.

Needless to say, Nokia management and shareholders are likely pleased by this turn of events. It will be interesting to see where Nokia is marketshare wise at the end of this year as their new Lumia series smarphones proliferate across the world. The full report is available here to Strategy Analytics clients.

MWC 12: NVIDIA Tegra 3 To Power Quad Core HTC One Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, smartphone, quad core, nvidia, MWC 12, htc, Android

Earlier rumors suggested that the LG Optimus 4X HD would be the first quad core Tegra 3 powered smartphone; however, HTC and NVIDIA made an announcement today that shows that LG is not the only company showing off a Tegra 3 smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2012!

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NVIDIA announced in a press release today that their Tegra 3 mobile SoC would be powering the new HTC One X smartphone which is to be shown off at MWC 2012. According to HTC, the phone features 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of on-board storage to power the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) mobile OS on a 4.7" display with 1280x720 resolution. It further includes an 8 MP (megapixel) rear camera capable of 1080p video with stereo sound, a VGA resolution front camera for video conferencing and claimed 720p video, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, support for LTE 4G networks, and a 1,800 mAh battery.

Kouji Kodera, Chief Product Officer at HTC stated that "the HTC One X with Tegra 3 provides an experience that consumers will absolutely love." The HTC One X is the first smartphone that HTC and NVIDIA have worked together on.

The mobile market is advancing rather quickly, and Mobile World Congress 2012 is only just getting started!  Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more MWC 2012 announcements!

For the full press release, hit the read more link:

Source: HTC