Microsoft Integrating Kinect Sensor Into Laptop Computers

Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: portable, PC, microsoft, laptop, kinect

At CES 2012, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a Kinect sensor and SDK (software development kit) for Windows.  In that same vien, the company is now exploring the idea of integrating a Kinect sensor directly into laptop computers.

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Not the actual prototype.  Just a mock up I concocted.

The crew over at The Daily managed to get their hands on two such prototype laptops with integrated Kinect sensors.  They state tha the two machines resemble Asus laptops that are running Windows 8; however, upon closer inspection, the laptops have removed the typical 1.3 megapixel webcam that is common in today's notebooks and have instead placed a Kinect sensor bar at the top of the display instead.  They claim that a source within Microsoft has confirmed that the two laptops are indeed official prototypes.

Unfortunately, there aren't many details beyond that.  Whether Microsoft will forge ahead with this idea and license out the Kinect technology to laptop makers or if the prototypes will go into some bunker somewhere and never see the light of day still remains a mystery.  Currently at $250 (to end users, OEMs could likely cut a much better deal), it is not likely that we will see a proliferation of Kinect sensors into all manner of displays for notebooks, TVs, and desktops.  If Microsoft could get the cost of the technology down far enough that manufacturers could justify adding it, it could definitely catch on.  In the end, I don't think we'll be seeing Kinect powered computers any time soon, but in the future when the hardware is cheaper and there are Kinect for Windows applications readily available, it could happen.  Would you like to see Kinect in your laptop (insert Xzibit meme here) or desktop monitor, and if so what would you like to do with it?

Source: The Daily

The SSD powered Oaktrail tablet from Kupa is a trooper

Subject: Mobile | January 26, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: tablet, ssd, oaktrail, mobile, Kupa X11, atom Z670, atom

You might not expect to see a tablet being examined at the SSD Review, except for the Kupa X11 which contains a 64 or 128GB mSSD drive.  As the Atom and Oaktrail pairing are perhaps not the fastest mobile chips on the block, the initial testing tried to determine if that chipset would prove to be a bottleneck.  They tested the Kingspec 128GB SSD which was included in the tablet as well as a Renice X3 120GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD and a Kingston mS100 SSD.  The Kingspec was the slowest choice of the three and even though the other two did perform more impressively Oaktrail did indeed prove to limit the performance of the drives.  On the other hand, it is still faster than a HDD and the SSD helps to extend the life of this 1366 x 768 10.1″ tablet to around 10 hours.  Also worth noting is that this tablet runs Xin7 Professional, not a trimmed down OS, and will fully support Win8.

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"Just prior to CES we had received an e-mail from a reader who had spoken of a company called Kupa, a tablet manufacturer who, as the reader had stated, “wasn’t afraid to experiment outside the box”. it took us all of two seconds to get to the Kupa Website and discover the Kupa X11, a tablet PC with all the power of a full size computer to include a Intel Atom Z670 1.5Ghz Oaktrail platform, 2GB RAM and your choice of 64 or 128GB SSD. Needless to say, we were impressed."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: SSD Review

LG X3 Android 4 Smartphone With Quad Core CPU May Debut at Mobile World Congress 2012

Subject: Mobile | January 20, 2012 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: tegra, quad core, lg x3, LG, ics, android 4.0, Android

This year's Mobile World Congress in Spain is going to be an interesting one from a smartphone hardware perspective, especially if recent rumors hold true. If you thought a dual core Snapdragon chip delivered a speedy experience, LG has something to blow your mind: The LG X3 is a smartphone that is rumored to have a quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor!

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The alleged LG X3 phone

The article quotes Pocketnow in detailing the less than 9mm thick LG X3's specifications which include the above-mentioned Tegra 3 Soc, an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera, a HSPA 21 "4G" network cellular radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, microSD slot, and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This hardware will be put to good use in powering the phones 4.7" display with a resolution of 1280 x 720. Further, a massive 2,000 mAh (milli-amp-hour) battery will provide the quad core SoC and huge display the power they need. Though with these kind of specs, under heavy use, don't expect miracles even with such a large battery. The last big of leaked information on the phone indicates that it will be running the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" mobile operating system (OS). Our own Matt Smith has a review of the Android 4.0 OS (running on the Transformer Prime) for your reading pleasure on the site now.

A quad core SoC (System on a Chip) in a phone... I just can't get past that; here I was thinking my 1.2 GHz single core Snapdragon processor was speedy. Before I even got my hands on a dual core phone, they are already packing them with quad cores!

Source: Pocketnow

When is an Ultrabook not an Ultrabook?

Subject: Mobile | January 19, 2012 - 06:17 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Samsung, toshiba, LG, z830, Z835, Z330, Series 9

An Ultrabook must meet certain criteria to honestly be an Ultrabook.  It cannot be thicker than 0.8" at any point, it must weigh under 3.1 lbs, it should have a battery life above 5 hours, boot to desktop in around 10 seconds or less and most importantly it should cost no more than $1000.  These specs seem to have been relaxed by Intel, for instance the Samsung Series 9 is available in two sizes, one which will cost you $1400 and one that will cost $1500.  While it is certainly sleek and the 128GB SSD should keep the boot times quick, the price is well over what the spec calls for.  Contrast that with the Toshiba Z830 and Z835 which will cost you $700 and therefore does met the specifications originally laid down by Intel.  The SSD Reviews top 3 Ultrabooks also include the LG Z330 which does not sport a price tag though the Kilimanjaro based 256GB OCZ SSD inside of the ultrabook does suggest they will not be under $1000.  Still, they are pretty to look at.

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"There seems to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that 2012 is going to be the year of the ultrabook and CES 2012 Las Vegas was front and center with just about every ultrabook available, or soon to be, this past week.

Today’s report will examine three forerunners that appear to be in a position, above all others at this point anyway, to grab top marks in 2012. Those who know me may also feel this to be an unfair comparison as I have had the Toshiba Z830 as my tool of choice for a few months now."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: SSD Review
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Google

Introduction, Interface

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The Prime seems to have no trouble achieving notable firsts. It was the first tablet with a Tegra 3 processor to go to retail, and now it’s the first tablet to have official Ice Cream Sandwich support. The update, scheduled originally for January 12th, actually went live after a surprise announcement on January 9th during Nvidia’s CES conference.

Since we still have our Prime review unit, this update provides us with a unique opportunity to compare Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich side-by-side on the same device. This update is important for the Prime - and all upcoming Android tablets - because the operating system is something that’s currently holding back a number of products with great hardware.

Honeycomb was never an OS that impressed me. It’s often jerky, lacks elegance, and has poor app support. So long as Honeycomb was the version of Android shipping on tablets there was simply no chance for an Android tablet to defeat the iPad 2. The software simply wasn’t up to the high standard set by iOS. 

Ice Cream Sandwich is a chance at redemption. The rumors have spread like wildfire. Various sources have reported improvements including better multi-core support, a faster web browser, improved notifications and much more. Official announcements have generally limited themselves to commenting on feature improvements, however - going into the ICS update I didn’t have any expectations for performance improvements because none were ever provided by Google. Nvidia also never set any expectations about the improvements, if any, we’d see from Tegra 3 processors running ICS.

Now that the Prime is updated we can test ICS out for ourselves. Let’s jump in, starting with the interface updates.

Continue reading our review of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the ASUS Transformer Prime!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Acer
Tagged:

Introduction and Design

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As a writer and laptop reviewer, I am constantly bombarded with the chance to look at new laptops. These are the latest and supposedly greatest the industry has to offer. Comparing these modern laptops with each other provides you, the reader, with information about what you should buy today. But it doesn’t provide a wider perspective throughout the years. 

There’s a long line of common complaints that are leveled at modern laptops including poor display quality, underwhelming build quality, and crappy keyboards. Certainly, there seem to be room for improvement in these areas on many laptops. Yet nostalgia has a tendency to obscure our view of the past. Was that laptop you used to own really superior to anything on the market today? Or is your memory clouded by the good times you had using it at a friend’s LAN party or writing an important paper twelve hours before it was due?

To find out, we’re going to step into the past and do a review of a nearly five-year-old laptop, the Acer Extensa 5420. This 15.4” laptop was not a top-of-the-line model when it was put on sale in 2007. It was the very picture of mainstream computing, a completely average dual-core laptop with discrete graphics that typically sold for between $500 and $600, depending on the configuration.

Continue reading our retrospective on the Acer Extensa 5420!!

Cords? The Wireless Power Consortium Thinks They’re Old-Fashioned

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging

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Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.

If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard. 

Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.

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Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point. 

To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances. 

But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.

Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.

Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled. 

One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place. 

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The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me.  One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.

For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year. 

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There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2012: Android Design Style Guide released

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 13, 2012 - 02:54 AM |
Tagged: google, CES 2012, CES, Android

Android is known for many things: relatively free and open, flexible, creepy little green dudes, and patent warfare. Consistent design is not one of those points. This year, towards the end of CES, Google announced and released the Android application design guide for developers interested in creating for Ice Cream Sandwich. As a result of the announcement, Joshua Topolsky sat down with Matias Duarte, the Google director of Android user experience, for a video interview. Listen in for all of the tough questions and see Google sweat.

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Make it Google. Please, for the love of all that is holy... make it Google.

The purpose of the design specification is not to force developers into a single static design such as what could be seen in other, more curated marketplaces. The purpose of the design specification is to show people what Google considers a good design choice in an assortment of situations and hope that people follow suit. The idea is that when given a default choice a developer would need to go out of their way to invent their own solution; once enough developers follow suit it then becomes more difficult to invent your own solution as your customers are already conditioned to a standard method.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt

Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.

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The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.

It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.

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A Trinity powered laptop at CES

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Origin Shows New Laptop Design, Phase Change Cooled Desktop

Subject: Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: Overclocked, origin, laptop, desktop, cooling, CES

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Origin is one of the big names in the boutique custom PC business, and this CES the company is once again striving to prove why it deserves such credentials. I stopped by the company’s suite and saw something cool, something practical, and something jaw-dropping. 

Let’s save the best for first: Origin showed a Genesis system powered by a phase change cooling system built into the case. As a result of this system, the company is able to deliver cooling at temperatures nearing -40 degrees Celsius. The system also draws so much power that they could only run one at once – running both the phase change systems in the suite could be more than the room can handle.

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With the processor’s thermals taken care of, Origin is able to overclock up to two core of the Core i7 3960X to 5.7 GHz, while the rest can be clocked up to 5.3 GHz. This is well above the base speed of 3.3 GHz and in the realm of speeds you’d expect to see in competitions.

The rest of the system is also technically impressive. Four 3GB GTX580s running in SLI are shoved in next to 12GB of RAM and two Corsair SSDs in RAID0. This impressive hardware allows the system to post a score of 6,613 in PCMark 7 and 23,014 in 3DMark 11 (with the video cards overclocked to 950 MHz).

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What I found most interesting about the system, however, was Origin’s extreme attention to detail. They implemented a red-white-black theme that is conveyed not only by the motherboard and the video card but also the cooling tubes, heatsinks and even the numerous PCIe power cables sending juice to the GTX580s. Nothing was overlooked, and the result is a system that is sure to make any hardcore geek salivate.

Pricing is not available yet for this high-end configuration. Availability is expected to be around February or March.   

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Origin also has their cool new laptop designs on display. Like most boutique PC companies, the laptop chassis used by Origin is a generic design (by Clevo, I believe). However, the new Origin EON15-S and EON17-S will be using custom lid panels with a look that is somewhat reminiscent of muscle car’s hood. 

The glossy prototype versions shown by Origin looked a bit cheap, but the company says the final product version will be matte. If so, these could be some sharp looking systems. Of course, the internals are as quick as ever – the EON17-S shown features a Core i7-2960XM overclocked to 4.5 GHz.

The company’s last announcement doesn’t involve a system, but rather a practial feature for customers - support. Origin is now offering free 24/7 lifetime support for its customers. This is retroactive, so previous customers now qualify for this assistance. Better still, the support is entirely US based. You won’t have to worry about your concerns being lost in translation. It is refreshing to encounter a company that is adding customer service and support rather than stripping it away. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Origin