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Archives from month » May, 2012

Asus Tablet Roster To Soon Include Quad-Core Google Nexus Tablet, Free Giveaway

ASUS Transformer TF101-A1 10.1-Inch Tablet (Dock Sold Separately)

ASUS Transformer TF101-A1 10.1-Inch Tablet on Amazon

Looks like Asus has been quite busy with tablets lately. After releasing an official teaser videos about the next generation of the Transformer Prime tablets, new rumors suggest that the company is almost ready with a Google Nexus branded tablet that will be launched at the Google I/O conference. And rumor goes on to say that Google will be giving away these tablets to conference attendees.

As for the details, the tablet seems to be a 7inch device, the same as Amazon’s Kindle Fire. As for the internals, rumor has it that Asus has been busy packing in a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core SoC in to the Nexus tablet. This Asus Google Nexus 7 tablet has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. After the short but obvious announcement by Google’s Eric Schmidt, the tablet has shown multiple signs of its existence, one of which was turning up on Rightview’s benchmarking tools.

The Tegra 3 SoC inside this tablet is running at 1.3GHz with four cores plus one ‘Ninja’ core that is dedicated to processing touch inputs only. It will have an NVIDIA ULP GeForce GPU that will power the 1280×768 pixel display and it will be running on Android 4.1 JRN51B. Also known as Jelly Bean, this is the next major upgrade to the Android OS and the reason why suddenly every company is trying to roll out Android 4.0 upgrades to all compatible handsets and devices.

This tablet is looking to give existing tablets some serious competition with a price tag of $199. Getting this powerful a device for that price would mean Kindle Fire would indeed be under heavy fire to hold on to their hard won market share. As per the rumors, this Nexus co-branded Asus tablet might be launched at the upcoming Google I/O conference where it might be given away to all the attendees. The conference starts on June 27 and there’s a possibility that Google will be launching the device for sale on the same day instead of just lanching the device. And handing out tablets will definitely help top developers use the tablet as a reference device for building better apps for Android tablets.

With Kindle Fire sales settling down after the initial surge, Barnes & Noble not really counting and no surety of Apple releasing a smaller iPad — this device from Google could quickly surge up towards the top and chase the iPad for market share. However, the Nexus phones have not been all that well received in the market, so there’s no telling whether this one will catch on or not.

Asus by themselves have seen moderate amount of success with their Transformer Prime tablet series but they are releasing tablets a bit too frequently for the general consumer to catch up and generate substantial sales.


Xbox 360 Racing Bundle Released For Virtual Speed Junkies And More Coming

Xbox 360 Console

Xbox 360 Console Racing Bundle On Amazon

Microsoft is now selling a special Xbox 360 racing bundle for those who want to live life in the fast lanes of the gaming world. This 250GB Racing Bungle in fact comes with everything you might need to start off from scratch. Other than shipping with just the right peripherals for the digital racer, it also comes with an appropriate game to get your started on a life of virtual speeding — Forza Motosport 4.

Amongst the peripherals is a wireless driving wheel with real feedback to simulate the actual driving experience. The rest of it is a Xbox 360 console with 250Gb storage space onboard for a world of games. This bundle is priced at just $299. When you factor in the $249 price of a standalone 250GB Xbox 360, this does start to look like a good deal. Microsoft has announced this deal just ahead of the E3 gaming convention for a reason of course. There’s a lot of content expected on the platform even though a new console is no on its way this year.

According to a post on gaming news source Game Informer, the next version of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 will be launched at E3 on Monday. Microsoft has a session scheduled for the day and it will be revealed only then. However, the post causes some amount of specualtion about what the possible name of the next version could be. It is not called Gears of War 4 and it is also not called Gears Of War Karting (suggestion courtesy Kotaku). The post on Game Informer is mainly a teaser about their upcoming cover story on the soon to be released game. They are fully aware of the name and its cover art but have chosen not o divulge it before the announcement. They usually show the cover art the game title of their upcoming cover stories every Thursday but they are making an exception in this case for obvious reasons. And for some reason, they mention “both” covers, which can mean either Gears of War has two versions or they are making two cover stories.

In other xbox 360 news, the console has recently reached a sales figure of 67 million, which it has taken 7 years to complete since rlease. Accoding to Yusuf Mehdi (marketing chief at Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division), this number accounts for about 47% of the console market and the numbers are rising still. The Kinect, having joined the game later, has done quite well for itself as well and has sold 19million units since relase. This has ben more than what most of us had been expecting with stiff competition from Wii and PlayStation Move. Xbox Live has apparently reached a membership count of of 40 million, which basically means you can have multiple large metropolitan cities made up of just Xbox Live members. And not all of them are gamers, as Microsoft continues to expand Xbox 360 in to an entertainment oriented platform rather than just gaming.


NuForce Cube 2 Inch Portable Speakers Launched

Nuforce Silver Cube Portable Speaker, Headphone Amp, and USB DAC

Nuforce Silver Cube Portable Speaker, Headphone Amp, and USB DAC on Amazon

NuFoce is a company that is well known for its audio solutions at both consumer and professional level. Which is why their new portable speaker offering has been taken up the tech community with more than average enthusiasm. This tiny, all-in-one portable speaker is called the NuForce Cube and it measures 2inch all around.

They call it an all-in-one because it serves as more than just a portable speaker. Built inside the Cube is a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) that can used via USB. It also serves as a powerful headphone amplifier that manages to keep audio levels high without introducing distortion and other problems.

Despite its size, the Cube is actually a very powerful speaker that puts out high end audio that has both clarity and depth. This something that is hard to find in portable speakers these days. You will either have to sacrifice on the audio quality or you will have to sacrifice on the portability. However, with the NuForce Cube, there’s no such trade off. You get great sound from a really tiny speaker.

It has high quality internal components that ensure all secondary options such as the headphone amplifier are providing the user with clear sound that is powerful yet well-defined. The internal DAC on the NuForce Cube is of a superior grade than most laptops and computers. And so it can be used as an external DAC to bypass the computer’s DAC completely. It will accept digital audio directly from the computer’s Audio and then convert the digital signal in to analog for playing back on the speaker. This conversion allows the system produce a quality of sound that is far clearer than anything most PCs and laptops can produce.

Portable speakers are slowly capturing more of the market because of the rise of mobile devices. Portable speakers weren’t as important a few years back when the growth in mobie devices was slow. But now it is a complete necessity for some people and it certainly makes travel much more fun.

The added features wil definitely help the Cube go a long way in to becoming the first choice of those who appreciate clarity and depth of sound. The headphones amplifiers are going to be especially popular for those who use large earphones. If you are in to production of any kind of audio, you will notice how small the sound is when plugged in to the PC and how much lounder it sounds on audio systems. This is because the computer does not put out enough loudness for a non-powered device like a pair of headphones to be properly driven.

If the DAC on the NuForce Cube lives up to its claim, it might become a must have for various different kind of audio professionals and musicians. Standalong DACs, the good ones, sell for thousands of dollars. So for a mere $119 you might not get that Godly sound but you will certainly get better sound than playing straight off your laptop.


Acer Aspire Series Receives 30 New Laptops, Including New Ultrabooks

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook on Amazon

Acer has released 30 new models as part of its Acer Aspire Laptop series. The company has introduced 5 new categories for these new laptops and these are — S, M, V3, V5 and E series. The diversity in the models represents the variety of models that Acer aims to cater. From the student to the busy executive — Acer wants to have a laptop for everybody. There are models for those who demand style; for those who demand performance; for those who demand features and for those who demand portability. Acording to Acer, these new laptops will be focussing on delivering great performance along with entertainment features. And all of it wrapped up in to “classy design.”

Most of the new laptops that have been launched run on 2nd generation Intel Core series processors. This seems to be a crucial part of Acer’s strategy as they aim these new laptops at developing markets, concentrating on select Asian markets. A company official talked about the launch and said that the new models uphold the company’s aim to bring new technology to the people at a price that is affordable and attainable.

Acer’s Aspire series has been known for its economic pricing and it is made to be a series that will appeal to the masses and not just to a select niche. This is important for a company when it is trying to cater to large customer bases in varied markets, especially in Asia where the average consumer is always quite price conscious. The Acer Aspire range also has premium offerings to match the requirements of those who demand high performance over high value. And that completes the company’s holistic approach towards capturing market share.

The M series noteboooks contain the Timeline Ultra M3 — a 14inch Ultrabook with a 20mm thin body but weighin in at over 5 pounds. It is also the first Ultrabook to carry the GT640M discrete GPU from NVIDIA inside. It also features Acer Instant On for a 1.5 second boot time and Acer Always Connect for Internet access within 2.5 seconds. This is possible because of the integrated SSD storage inside. The battery is rated at 8 hours of use and 80days of ‘Deep Sleep’ using Acer’s Green Instant On feature. It is also rated for a 10,000 cycle charge life that retains battery performance for up to 4 years. There’s DVD combo drive and Dolby Home Theatre V4 for better entertainment. This same ultrabook comes in a 15inch version called the Timeline Ultra M5.

The rest of the new Acer Aspire releases consist of the V5 series that is claimed to be 30% slimmer than the average notebook and also carries NVIDIA GeForce GPU inside. It comes with Instant Connect, USB 3.0 port, multi-card reader, Bluetooth 4.0 and more.

The V3 series is geared more towards performance and comes with powerful GPU with 2GB dedicated memory and also Dolby Home Theater V4.


Asus Zenbook Prime: A Quick Overview

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook on Amazon

One of the first things that will hit you about an Asus Zebook Prime Ultrabook is its display. All of the new Zenbooks come with Full HD IPS LCD displays that bring out vivid details in your images and videos. It starts right from the 11inch Zenbook Prime UX21A and the 13inch Zebook Prime UX31A and UX32VD — all of which offer optional 1080p (1920×1080) displays. This is one step up from the 1366×768 resolution that older Zenbooks offer. Most of the other ultrabooks in this segment do not have this advantage and mainly offer 1600×900 pixel resolutions on their 13inch to 15inch displays. Also, none of them use IPS displays. IPS or In-Plane Switching offers better viewing angles and better sharpeness as a result. It also has better color reproduction. Thos who are worried about text being too small should relax — hands on reviews have all noted that text is readable.

The Zenbook Prime Ultrabooks are all debuting next month with Ivy Bridge processors — the chips that Intel released only recently. This makes the Zenbook Prime models one of the first amongst the Ultrabooks for having upgraded to the latest from Intel. But it bears to take note that June will bring Iny Bridge refreshes for all Ultrabooks and hence the Asus Zenbook Prime series will only be slightly ahead before the rest of the lot catches up. Other manufacturers like Sony, HP and Dell have already announced their next round of Ultrabook upgrades will have Ivy Bridge on them.

The Asus Zenbook Prime ultrabooks use built in graphics, similar to most other ultrabooks in this segment. This time it is the Intel HD 4000 graphics that is found onboard the Zenbook Prime models. Most of the other ultrabooks in the market right now are using Intel HD 3000, which is a generation older. And if you want, you can buy the UX32VD along with an optional upgrade to a NVIDIA graphics card. This is one option that many users are dying to have, especially gamers. So this is yet another point that puts the Zenbook Prime ultrabook series ahead of most of its competitors. There are discrete graphics options available from the likes of Gigabyte and Acer but they are 14 and 15inch in size respectively and the Acer one is also quite heavy at 5 pounds.

In fact, if you are on a budget and you are looking for performance better than Ivy Bridge with onboard graphics, you can opt for the HP Sleekbook — a 15inch Ultrabook alternative that comes with AMD Trinity APU. It has better performance than the Zenbook with onboard graphics and also costs much less at $599.99.

Talking of cost, the Zebooks will be priced at a little over $1000 — even with their HD IPS displays. This makes the models quite competitive options against most other ultrabooks and even the MacBook Air.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 4G Is Not Direct Competition For Apple iPad 2 On 3G: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1-Inch, Wi-Fi)

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1-Inch, Wi-Fi) on Amazon

The legal battle between Apple and Samsung over the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringing on iPad patents has just taken a new turn in the US. Apple has successfully overturned the previous court order that decided Samsung’s tablet was not infringing while preserving the other order which decided to block smartphones that were considered to be infringing. Experts commeting on the case said that Apple is fighting from a better position this time and has better chances. However, they also said that it does not guarantee anything yet. The case can go either way.

In their defence, Samsung has mentioned that the 4G enabled Galaxy Tab is not infringing on the iPad 2 simply because it is based on 3G. However, this is not a very strong pivotal point to be fighting from according to some experts because it hinges too much on the 4G capability. This is because 4G is backwards compatible and not an isolated technology. Users who are using 4G can easily be using 3G networks where 4G is not available. They can also be using the tablet in offline mode. All of those cases bring it closer to the infringment claim Apple has slammed against them. Samsung argues that it does not compete directly with Apple’s iPad 2.

Samsung has claimed that an injunction (what Apple seeks against the Galaxy Tab) will only serve to hamper the relationship Samsung has with US carriers. The Korean company has several tie ups with carriers for the sale of Galaxy Tabs tuned for their 4G networks.

Experts have noted that Samsung has made some good points but they are possibly not good enough to avoid a preliminary injuction. Since there are very few people who would be out to by a 4G tablet only and not look at anything that is not 4G. They have also pointed to our international precendents as reasons why Samsung might not be able to hold their own during the injunction phase. A similar case filed by Apple against Samsung in Germany caused Samsung to modify the Galaxy Tab for selling in the country and work around the sales ban that was imposed on the tablet by the German courts.

Some are of the opinion that since Samsung has made an attempt to make modifications to avoid infringement, an injunction may be avoided simply based on hardship public interest. And then there’s the other camp.

Samsung had the opportunity of modifying the device after the first case but it did not do that despite the precendent in the German case. The Samsug vs Apple cases have now been spread worldwide with over 30 cases being fought across various countries.

Company officials and chiefs have already met for a settlement talk that was scheduled by the court. But neither party could come to terms that both could agree. So it seems like the legal battle between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad 2 will go on for a while. Samsung has to remember one thing though — Apple is currently the world’s most valuable company and they will aggressively defend what they think is their right.


Windows Phone Runs Faster Than Most Other Phones, Claims Microsoft

Nokia Lumia 900 4G Windows Phone, Black (AT&T)

Nokia Lumia 900 4G Windows Phone, Black (AT&T) on AMazon

Microsoft has recently launched a new campaign in collaboration with Nokia — Smoked by Windows Phone — where other competing phones are pitched against a Windows Phone device (a Lumia 900 in this case) for performance tests. According to what the Windows Phone makers have to say, the platform is nearly always faster.

Microsoft was betting £100 (and similar amounts all over the world) that Windows Phone devices would be faster than competing devices running Android and iOS. The company has released statistics that claim a 98 percen win rate over other phones from a survey that covered more than 50,000 people. These contests have taken place at multiple locations including the CES and Mobile World Congress tech events as well as at Microsoft branded retail stores locate acros the United States. This is only the latest in a series of marketing efforts funded by Microsoft and Nokia in order to push Windows Phone in to the limelight.

The Windows Phone devics, especially the Nokia Lumia series, are in fact snappier and generally speedier compared to similar phones. It is mainly because these phones are running the stock version of the Windows Phone OS without customizations like the HTC Sense UI found on Android phones. It also uses a lighter interface (Metro) than the iOS. However, despite all these advantages the devices have seen slow growth thanks to overwhelming competition from market leaders iPhone and Android.

Latest satistics from AT&T have shown that Windows Phone is definitely catching on but at a very slow rate. The subsidized prices of great devices such as the Lumia 900 are going a long way in encouraging first time smartphone owners to buy in to Microsoft’s platform instead of siding with Apple or Google and one of its many hardware partners. Windows Phone is also reported tobe doing better than the US in developing markets, where its prices versus performance ratio is valued more.

Windows Phone is all set to get a major upgrade with the release of Windows Phone 8 later this year along with the general release of the Windows 8 platform. There have been no official confirmations in this order but it is generally believed to be scheduled for sometime in October. The common belief is that Microsoft will release the regular Windows 8 for PCs, Windows 8 RT for ARM-based devices and Windows Phone 8 for handsets at the same time with the same announcement. This supposition stems from the fact that Windows 8 attempts to merge the entire Windows user experience across multiple devices in to one cohesive experience.

Windows Phone devices have so far received great critical response with reviewers especially praising the simplicity of the Metro interface and the build quality of phones like the Lumia devices. Microsoft is likely waiting on Windows 8 to be ready to deliver a more potent marketing campaign and push Windows Phone in to the mainstream.


Apple iPad Design Earns Designer Jonathan Ive A Knighthood

Apple iPad MD328LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, White) NEWEST MODEL

Apple iPad MD328LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, White) NEWEST MODEL on Amazon

British designer Jonathan Ive, the brilliant mind behind the designs of iconic products such as the iPod, the iPhone and more recently the iPad — has received Knighthood as a person who has made an impact on modern life. He was knighted by the Princess Royal on Wednesday this week.

Jonathan Ive, now Sir Jonathan Ive, was born in Chingford in East London. He was raised in Straffordshire, the same place where he attended Walton High School. He then moved on to the Newcastle Polytechnic and the rest, as they say, is history.

He may not always look like it, but he has been rightly called as the man who might be the most influential designer in the world at the moment. After all, he is the designer behind multiple chartbuster products that have created entirely new market segments. The iPod revolutionized personal media players. The iPhone inspired the whole line of modern smartphones and their OS’ (yes, both Android and the Windows Phone Series). The iPad is still making waves across the world. In its third generation, the Apple iPad tablet is currently the world leader in the segment that includs both mobile and more pc-like tablets. It is being trailed by the Android-based Amazon Kindle Fire but the gap between them ensures that the Fire would not be closing in on the iPad any time soon.

And all this despite the iPad not being the cheapest and is often the most expensive option on the market. It is definitely a trendsetter and just like the iPhone, the iPad has a long time left before the competition is able to catch up to it. The reason for this because no company can compete with Apple’s software and hardware combination at the same price. Apple can build its iPad tablets for amazingly cheap because the company has a stranglehold on the supply chain. Even though suppliers and manufacturers dislike working with Apple’s strict guidelines and customized designs, they usually jostle in the line to get an order. This mainly because Apple also wins out in volume. There was a point in the market where Apple’s demand for NAND flash memory chips caused a worldwide shortage and resulted in other manufacturers having to delay their products.

Coming back to the design, Apple has always been about minimalist features and great functionality all at the same time. Apple seems to have made an art out of getting the maximum done with minimal physical contols. In a historical industry moment that many would remember, Steve Jobs had compared the cumberson multimedia home-theatre remote to the elegant, 5-button Apple Front-Row remote. Both did more or less the same things but they did it in a very different way. Or if you take the smallest iPod for that matter — so much functionality with so few physical controls.

The iPad, for which Ive received the recognition, is a similar design to that of the iPhone. It has only one (iconic) home button on the face and a volume rocker and power button on the edges. And between them, it does what most other competing devices dedicate at least 3 front buttons and similar edge-located controls to accomplish.


Apple iPhone Rumors: 3.95inch Display And More Pixels

Apple iPhone 4S 16GB - AT&T - Black

Apple iPhone 4S 16GB - AT&T - Black on Amazon

The next generation of the Apple iPhone smartphone has as usual been keeping the rumor mills quite busy. Like everytime, this time too there’s a focus feature for the yet to be announced iPhone — its display. News is that the display is larger than before and also with as many more pixels. Which means Apple is maintaining the high pixel density that would classify the display as a Retina class display. Retina class display was first introduced by Apple and it is a display that has a higher pixel density (measured in pixels per inch) than what the human eye and distinguish. This means to our eyes, the display would be as sharp as a high quality print. This is great for all kinds of graphics and movies but it is best for those who like reading on their iPhone. The text comes out extremely sharp.

The latest version of this rumor comes out of Apple news site 9to5Mac where there’s a new post claiming Apple is already testing out two versions of a new iPhone with 3.95inch displays. Only one of these phones will be released and it looks like whatever their differences might be, they are are both larger than the current iPhone models. Even though popular rumors put it at a true 4inch screen, 9to5Mac says it will instead be 3.95inch exactly.

The width of this new iPhone is apparently going to be same as the existing iPhone, which means the increase is going to be in the height of the phone. So the aspect ratio is about to change. This is a smart move on Apple’s part because keeping the same width would mean the handset would still be easier to fit in to the hand than other phones are become wide as the display size increases.

This added height would afford Apple about 176 more pixels on the display on one side, making the new resolution 640 x 1136 pixels. The current Retina-display on the iPhone 4S boasts of a resolution of 640×960 pixels.

Apple of course has not been saying anything about a new iPhone. Forget talking about specs and possible timeframe for launch, it has not said anything about a iPhone altogether. But that has never stopped rumors from spreading.

And the sources have been getting more serious too. It was only last week when the Wall Street Journal reported Apple is buying up 4inch display units, citing insiders who are close to the matter. They speculated the displays were meant for the upcoming iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5 by the general masses.

The new found tallness of the iPhone would also mean certain changes to the next version of the iOS, expected to be called iOS 6. 9to5Mac chimes in with the speculation that will allow a fifth row icons on the home screen. Additionally, it might also cause some changes in the look and feel of the OS. Another rumor from the same site suggests the new iPhone will also have the rumored smaller dock connector. Whether it will be a mobile version of Lightning Bolt or just a redesign, nobody knows.


Samsung Galaxy S III Touted As This Year’s Biggest Android Launch

SAMSUNG GALAXY SIII GT-i9300 16GB MARBLE WHITE FACTORY UNLOCKED GSM i9300 S3 (3G HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100)

SAMSUNG GALAXY SIII GT-i9300 16GB MARBLE WHITE FACTORY UNLOCKED GSM i9300 S3 (3G HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100) on Amazon

We are not even through one half of this year but we already have a phone that is being touted as the largest Android release of 2012. Released in the beginning of this month, the Samsung Galaxy S III has been the talk of the town ever since the first few slivers of information leaked out on to the internet. The phone will officially become available in the US sometime in June (UK release date is 29th of this month) but it is already on pre-order everywhere, including online retailers like Amazon. In fact, this launch is exactly what  has prevented other manufacturers from releasing devices.

But this big ticket launch doesn’t represent the whole spectrum of what is going on in the Android market. There are computing devices being released by other companies for very cheap prices. There’s the supremely affordable APC 8750 from VIA and the $74 MK802 by Rikomagic. That last one is a computer that is hardly bigger than a thumbdrive.

However, when it comes to excitement in the market, Samsung Galaxy S III has it spot on. Featuring some of the latest technologies in the mobile market such as a quad-core processor, best-in-class display and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — it has attracted a fairly large number of pre-orders online already. This has been reflected in both Amazon and Vodafone stores. It has also broken a few records in its wake, showing exactly how much demand it has actually generated in the market. The quad-core processor and the 4.8inch AMOLED display are all rolled in to the Android 4.0 OS that even comes with Apple iPhone Siri-like speech recognition. Put together, it is almost everything that Android-lovers everywhere have been asking for. The 4.8inch is definitely a bit too large for some people but it has not deterred customers it seems.

Good things are also being said of the camera onboard the Samsung Galaxy S III. If you are looking for a camera with more sophisticated on-device features such as ‘best shot’ selection, this is it. CNET UK managed to review an unit and were all praises about the camera that has the ability to shoot stills while shooting video. Samsung’s very own TouchWiz UI is also a point of praise for the reviewers. Samsung in fact hopes to discourage iPhone users from buying in to whatever Apple will present later this year as their follow up to the iPhone 4S. Of course, that’s an uphill battle for Samsung but Android has collectively overtaken iPhone for quite some time now.

Right the International version of the phone is available from Amazon and the US retail version won’t appear until some time next month. So the wait for it to hit the US shores is not going to that long either. Judging by the reaction in the UK, it should see a lot of demand in the US as well.