Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 26, 2011 - 01:44 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, Medfield, Android, x86, SoC
Intel hopes that 2012 will finally be the year they see mainstream phones with Intel inside. Despite Intel's attempts to tell us otherwise for the past several generations, the upcoming Medfield design is the first truly serious attempt to enter the phone and tablet market currently dominated by the many ARM-based partners of phone manufacturers all over the world. A recent post over at Technology Review discussed the advantages that Medfield offers over previous Intel Atom-based designs with Steve Smith, Intel's VP of Architecture.
First shown at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this past September, a Medfield-based reference design has many believing in what some thought was impossible but what others thought was inevitable: Intel x86 cores in a phone that matters. Why the change from many in the analyst space? Medfield is the first option from Intel that is truly a single-chip solution, removing design space concerns and power consumption issues that previous Atom-architecture solutions were saddled with.
Intel showed Technology Review the Android-based reference phone running Gingerbread.
The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal. It was running the version of Google's operating system shipping with most Android phones today, known as Gingerbread; a newer version, Ice Cream Sandwich, was released by Google only about a month ago.
Intel has a lot of experience in the consumer markets though it took a shift inside the company to really put the focus on phones and tablets over netbooks and convertible-notebooks. At the recent showing not only did they have the reference design phone but also an iPad-like tablet device running Ice Cream Sandwich, another key to the consumer's dollar. And as you can clearly see in the diagram below, there is a lot of money being made that Intel wants in on. A LOT.
Source: Technology Review, IDC
Intel will also enjoy a process technology advantage over the competition with current Medfield SoCs built on the company's internal 32nm process and the upcoming 22nm technology promises even more power consumption advantanges. ARM designs are built at different foundries including Samsung and TSMC and while they are competitive, no one can keep up with Intel on this front.
Anandtech also had some interesting information to share from an investor conference earlier this month about the power consumption and performance levels of Medfield.
The diagram shows that power consumption on Medfield should be competitive with the current ARM-based SoC leaders in the market today. Areas like 3G standby, basic audio playback and video playback should be accomplished with minimal power draw in order to have battery life extended to at least current expectations. The performance graphs here on Browser Mark and "Graphics" are impressive as well though obviously we have a TON of missing information to really make the graph meaningful. Anand puts it well:
Barring any outright deception however, there seems to be potential in Medfield.
I tend to believe that Intel is too smart to misjudge a product to investors, but remember how impressive the initial performance results of Larrabee were for years?
I am hopeful and excited for Intel's mobility plans in 2012 as other information we have seen looks impressive. Let's see what CES has to offer.
Subject: Mobile | December 21, 2011 - 09:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nokia, microsoft, lumia, tablet, nokia connection 2012, windows phone 8, apollo
According to a blog post over at DGUI, a poster claims to have spoken with a source within the know who told him that the Windows Phone 8 (also known as Windows Phone Apollo) mobile operating system will be released in mid-June 2012. Devices running the OS will start showing up soon after, with Nokia showing off Windows Phone 8 phones as soon as Nokia Connection 2012.
Windows Phone 8? :P
The source further states that Windows Phone 8 will bring support for NFC (near-field communication), dual core processors, larger displays, and bigger phone chassis. In addition to smart phones, the supposed Nokia source claims that the company will also be producing a tablet running Windows 8.
Lastly, the poster states that while the source claims to work for Nokia, the poster cannot verify it and thus this should be taken with a grain of salt. He quoted the alleged industry insider in stating "Hi, I work by Nokia in Helsinki. Nokia will bring Tango fones to CES and MWC. Apollo come in June. Apollo fones at Nokia Connection. Window 8 tablet come in June also. Hope it helps you."
What are your thoughts on this, do you think we'll be seeing Windows 8 and WP8 smart phones this summer?
Subject: Mobile | December 21, 2011 - 02:51 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: update, tablet, root, nook tablet, modding, kindle fire
Both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have been given recent software updates. These updates were stated to improve performance and squash minor bugs. Unfortunately, in addition to these improvements, the automatic updates contained a “fix” that removed the ability to gain root access to the tablets. Specifically, the updates in question were 6.2.1 for the Amazon Kindle Fire and 1.4.1 for the Barnes and Noble Nook tablet. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that these updates are pushed to the devices automatically. The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet will update as soon as they are connected to a WiFi hotspot, for example.
The Nook Tablet gets an even worse deal, however. In addition to the removal of root access, users will not be able to side-load other Android applications. The ability to side-load other Android apps was likely a deciding factor for many when comparing the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire, as well as Nook eReaders traditionally being more hackable and mod-friendly.
Currently, the only way to keep root access on both tablets is to stay off of WiFi connections or disable automatic updates in the case of the Nook Tablet. If your Nook has already been updated, XDA has somewhat of a solution. While you will not be able to use the 1.4.1 update, you will at least be able to have root access, mod, and side-load applications to your hearts content. Their fix involves rolling back the 1.4.1 update to the previous 1.4.0 update and is detailed here.
Kindle Fire users will need to either stay off of WiFi hotspots or in the case of an already updated tablet wait for a workaround from the modding community.
The restrictions placed on both tablets are not likely to please users, especially buyers of Nook tablets as Barnes and Noble's eReaders have traditionally been friendly to modders. On one hand, users want options and the ability to install third party applications. On the other hand are Amazon and Barnes and Noble selling their tablets at a loss and needing to make up money by convincing people to buy into their software and services (their applications, bookstore, et al). For aspiring modders, patience is key as workarounds are likely to emerge soon. Until then, getting a tablet for cheap will have to suffice ;).
Where do you stand on the issue, do you think removing root access was the right move for Amazon and B&N? Let us know in the comments!
Subject: Mobile | December 16, 2011 - 06:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tegra, SoC, qualcomm, PowerVR, mobile, Android, adreno
Quite a few mobile device manufacturers are implementing graphics processors and image processors based on Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR technology. Popular licensees of Imagination Technologies PowerVR core patents include Intel, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Texas Instruments (a big one in regards to number of SoCs using PowerVR techs for mobile phones).
Interestingly, Qualcomm is not currently licensing the graphics processor portfolio that man other mobile OEMs license. Rather, Qualcomm is licensing the PowerVR display patents. The intellectual property features the PowerVR de-interlacing cores and de-judder purposed FRC (Frame Rate Conversion) core. The de-interlacing core(s) can do either “motion adaptive (MA) or motion compensated (MC) de-interlacing” as well as a few other algorithms to deliver smooth graphics. Further, the FRC cores take 24 FPS (frames per second) source material and outputs it as either 120 Hz or 240 Hz while applying image processing to keep the video looking smooth to the eye. The method for grabbing and extrapolating “extra” frames to take a 24 FPS video and display it on an LCD screen that refreshes at 120 Hz by displaying each one of those 24 frames five times every second involves a bit of math and algorithmic magic; a simplistic explanation can be read here.
It will be interesting to see how Qualcomm applies the image processing technology to their future SoCs (system on a chip) to entice manufacturers into going with them instead of competition like Texas Instruments or Nvidia’s Tegra chips. The Verge speculates that this Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies deal may be just the first step towards Qualcomm licensing more PowerVR tech (possibly) including the GPU portfolio. Whether Qualcomm will ditch their Adreno GPUs remains to be seen. If I had to guess, the SoC maker will invest in more PowerVR IP, but they will not completely abandon their Adreno graphics. Rather, they will continue developing next generation Adreno graphics for use in their SoCs while also integrating the useful and superior aspects of PowerVR graphics and display technologies. Another option may be to develop and sell both platforms (possibly with one being high end competition to Tegra and the other being for the rest of phones as competition to other low end, low power chips) to hedge their bets into the future of mobile SoCs which is a rapidly advancing industry where change and what is considered the top tech happens quickly.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 16, 2011 - 03:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: kindle, tablet, kindle fire, ereader, sales
Although Amazon’s recent Kindle Fire eReader and tablet arrived to mixed reviews due to performance issues and privacy concerns, a great number of consumers (mainly less demanding relatives of tech enthusiasts from my experience) are buying them and enjoying them. Of personal experience, my significant other has yet to let it out of her sight for me to have time to test it out for example.
Therefore, I assumed the Kindle Fire was selling well. The sales seem to be much better than I expected; however, if these numbers by CNet turn out to be true. According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire has been the “bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product” on Amazon.com ever since the tablet’s November 15th release.
Cnet further talked with the CEO of eDataSource Carter Nicholas who stated the Amazon statement on the Fire’s popularity was likely true. The market research firm has compiled data that shows Amazon sold 45,000 Kindle Fire tablets in one day last month alone, and Nicholas predicts increased sales over the holiday seasons. Approximately 850,000 Kindle Fires have been sold through Amazon.com’s website. Further, Isupply estimates that Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire eReaders between October (pre-orders) and the end of December. While 850,000 Fire’s have been sold from the website, by including all channel partners and brick and mortar stores, it is estimated that Amazon has sold upwards of 2 million Fire tablets already. More information can be had here.
Because of the price, the Kindle Fire is selling like it is some kind of fire powered hotcake sale. Have you had a chance to play around with the Amazon tablet yet, and if so what are your thoughts on the device? Do you think the company will sell enough devices to give Apple a run for it’s money?
Apple pulled off a four times increase in pixel density on it’s smartphone displays with the iPhone 4 which they dubbed the “Retina Display.” Meanwhile the company’s current 13” MacBook Pro is shackled to a 1280x800 display with an approximate pixel density of 116 pixels per inch. The low resolution (especially vertically) can make reading web pages or working with large documents a hassle as it involves quite a bit of scrolling up and down. New rumors; however, suggest that the Cupertino based company may be looking to step up the display resolution in the next iteration of the MacBook lineup. Allegedly, Digitimes has heard from “sources in the upstream supply chain” that the displays will have as high as a 2880x1800 resolution (and an approximate 261.25 PPI). Pretty impressive for a 13” display!
The current MBP
Whether we will actually see new MacBook models release with such a display remains to be seen; however, it would certainly be a welcomed move as the computer display innovation market has been rather stagnant for the past few years, even going so far as to go backwards in ~24” monitors from 1200 vertical pixels to the now standard 1920x1080 resolution. Perhaps this move by Apple will entice other monitor manufacturers to step up their game and bring 4K gaming to the PC, eventually. Heck, while we are on the topic of monitor tech traveling laterally instead of forward, what ever happened to that curved display from Alienware? Personally, I’m rooting for Apple on this one as the monitor market could use a wake up call!
Subject: Mobile | December 12, 2011 - 12:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: roundup, guide
You may have noticed an increase in systems guides and recommendations over the past month, not just the Hardware Leaderboard here on PC Perspective but on many other sites as well. What we have not done is a list of recommendations for laptops but thankfully TechSpot has taken matters into their own hands. They've broken down the market into budget, gaming, ultraportable, business and desktop replacements. In each section they list several models which are quite capable within their own segment, at a range of prices. Of course the desktop replacements and gaming laptops are the most expensive and powerful but do not discount the budget laptops as many people will only ever need the power available in a $500 laptop.
"With the holiday shopping season in full swing it's time we give our Laptop Buying Guide one last pass before the year is over to make sure it's packing enough punch. Netbooks have lost their lure to simply become smaller, entry-level notebooks, while other categories are only seeing minor spec bumps. But if you are looking into the ultraportable market, a new breed of devices has emerged. Intel is pushing the Ultrabooks as thin and light systems with plenty of power, for now we're seeing a first generation of devices, with plenty more to come."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Gateway ID47H07u Review @ TechReviewSource
- Sony VAIO VPC-YB35BX/B Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer TravelMate 8481T-6873: Remarkable Road Warrior @ AnandTech
- EUROCOM Panther 3.0 Laptop Review - Tested with 6990M CrossFire and 580M SLI @ HardwareHeaven
- Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2011) Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Toshiba Thrive: Honeycomb Hits $300 @ AnandTech
- ARCTIC Hard Case with Cover for iPad 2 Review @ Madshrimps
- LG Nitro HD @ Techspot
- HTC EVO 3D Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- ZAGG ZAGGSparq 2.0 Portable Battery Review @ Real World Labs
- TomTom iPad and iPhone app @ Rbmods
- Motorola Defy+ @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Focus S Windows Phone @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 11, 2011 - 03:52 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webOS, open source, hp
Sure, this title is little more than a series of bad puns. That said, HP’s situation has recently seems like little more than a series of bad jokes itself. Over the last year, HP appears to have been their own biggest public image disaster: they purchased Palm to release a tablet without much platform support; they shut down and liquidate the tablet after seven weeks; they flirt with disbanding their entire profitable division and draw intense media discussion over the death of the entire PC industry; and they sharply change their mind and keep their division long after the media damage ends. Despite that spiraling-out-of-control story, HP has just recently made a surprisingly sensible decision: Open Source WebOS.
WebOS… Web Open Source… I get it now!
Obviously, we cannot tell exactly how good of a long-term decision it is for HP to support WebOS as an open project with the details we have now. A number of questions, not the least of which being about what open source license HP will use for their operating system, shroud the fate of WebOS as an open source platform. While I will not get excited yet, as I will not assume sensibility on the part of HP, it is entirely possible that HP can displace Android and Meego as the open mobile operating systems. Then again, it is entirely possible that HP can just crumble under Android and its other competitors and go back to cramming drops of ink into plastic containers and building large servers for corporate clients.
Depending on the license, as well as other factors, what do you think of WebOS as the open platform of choice?
Introduction and Design
When I think of inexpensive workhorse laptops, Inspiron is one of the first names that comes to mind. This may partially be because HP remains oddly committed to a strange number-based naming scheme that’s as easy to remember as my second cousin’s birthday, but it’s also because the Inspiron is as common as rice. In college, they seemed to be the most popular Windows PC by far, and they’re still sold by most brick-and-mortar electronics stores despite Dell’s significant online presence.
Part of the reason for this popularity is price, and that means Inspirons are often competent, but can also be a bit dull. There’s always exceptions to the rules, however, and Dell has decided to spice up the brand with the new Inspiron 14z. Starting at $599, this “thin and powerful” laptop could be appealing consumers who want to get on the slim-and-sexy train for cheap, but trying to cram a lot of hardware in a small chassis with an inexpensive price can sometimes result in compromises. Did Dell have to cut corners to make this possible?
Subject: Mobile | December 2, 2011 - 02:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, ZaReason, Strata 6880
The stats on the ZaReason Strata 6880 are quite nice, a Core i7 2630QM, 8GB of DDR3, a 128GB Super Talent SSD and a GeForce GT 540M to power the 15.6"1920 x 1080 display. The real shocker is the price, $850 which is in part thanks to the lack of a Windows OS license as well as the hidden cost of the crapware that notebook vendors love to shove onto all of their products. You might want to pick up an external drive to go with the laptop as 128GB is not a huge amount of space, though it certainly will be fast. Head to Phoronix for a look at this laptop, which they have been benchmarking for quite a while now as you can see from the links on the last page of this short overview.
"You may have noticed several Phoronix articles in recent weeks using a ZaReason notebook built around Intel's "Sandy Bridge" processor. This is one of the new notebooks from ZaReason that had been in our labs for testing. Here is a last look at the Strata 6880 notebook from this Linux-focused PC vendor."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP TouchSmart 9300 Elite Review @ TechReviewSource
- Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook Review @ The SSD Review
- Toshiba Portege Z835 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Asus Zenbook UX31 Laptop Review @ HardwareLOOK
- Holiday 2011 Laptop Buyer’s Guide @ AnandTech
- Medion Erazer X6813 15.6" @ kitguru
- Kingston Wi-Drive for iDevices Review @ Techgage
- SwitchEasy CANVAS iPad 2 Case Review @ Madshrimps
- Samsung Galaxy S II Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Peel Universal Smart Remote for iPhone and Android Review @MissingRemote
- Amazon Kindle Touch 3G @ AnandTech
- ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime & NVIDIA Tegra 3 @ AnandTech
- Lean, mean consuming machine: the Nook Tablet reviewed @ Ars Technica
- Griffin Beacon for iOS Review @ ThinkComputers