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Sep 29, 2011

Sharp AQUOS 104SH to Run Ice Cream Sandwich at Softbank

Japanese mobile phone users will soon be able to purchase new mobile phones on the airwaves of local wireless carriers, and the Sharp AQUOS 104SH that will arrive at Softbank soon is one of these devices. 

The new device packs an impressive 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 application processor, and is expected to arrive on shelves sometime next year, with the Ice Cream Sandwich platform flavor on board. 

This is the very first smartphone in the world we learned of to be planned with Google's Ice Cream Sandwich OS flavor on board, but it seems that this is only one of the appealing features that it should arrive on shelves with. 

The handset will also pack a large 4.5-inch HD (1,280 × 720 pixels) LCD, offering support for up to 16,770,000 colors.

Not to mention that it should arrive on shelves with a 12.10 megapixels photo snapper with auto focus and video recording capabilities, complemented by a secondary camera.

Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n will also be included into the mix, along with Bluetooth 3.0, and a microSDHC card slot with support for additional storage space. 

The Sharp AQUOS 104SH will pack CDMA (1.5GHz/2.1GHz) connectivity capabilities, as well as a series of features exclusive for the Japanese market. 

Apparently, the new mobile phone was also designed with IPX5/IPX7 ruggedness, which adds a little more to its appeal. As stated above, the wireless carrier is expecting it to be released sometime in spring next year.

Specific details on the availability date of the new mobile phone haven't emerged for the time being, nor on the price tag it might feature when made available for purchase. 

One thing that is certain, however, is that, if the new Sharp AQUOS 104SH arrives only next year, it will not be the first Ice Cream Sandwich phone on shelves. Google and Samsung are expected to launch the first such device before the end of the year.

Windows 8 Preview Sends Feedback Automatically, Including Software and Hardware Info

Early adopters get to play with the Developer Preview of Windows 8 for free and Microsoft gets feedback in return. 

This quid pro quo arrangement must already be familiar to all testers of the company’s software products, since it traditionally governs all pre-releases of future technologies from the Redmond giant. 

Of course, Microsoft makes no secret about harvesting user data from early adopters testing Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3). 

All that users need to do is read the license terms that accompany the first public release of Windows 8 and they’ll get all the information they require. 

“Because this software is a pre-release version, we have turned on some Internet-based features by default to obtain feedback about them,” Microsoft reveals. “In some cases, you will not receive a separate notice when they connect. In some cases, you may switch off these features or not use them.”

“By using these features, you consent to the transmission of this information. Microsoft does not use the information to identify or contact you.”

There are a range of features that phone home to the Redmond company in order to automatically share information from the tester’s Windows 8 computers. 

Still, customers already familiar with the way that Windows works and the communications between the operating system and Microsoft’s servers already know that components such as Windows Update, Windows Time Service, Search Provider Update and others send data to the software giant. There’s really nothing new in this regard. 

But since I was talking about automatic feedback being sent over to Microsoft from Windows 8 machines, here’s some info on what the Feedback Features do. 

“The Customer Experience Improvement Program automatically sends to Microsoft anonymous information about your hardware and how you use this software. Windows Error Reporting automatically sends reports to Microsoft that describe which software components had errors. These reports may include memory dumps,” the software giant says in the EULA. 

“From time-to-time, we will also download a small file to your computer that permits us to collect information about specific errors you have while using the software. The data collected by these features helps us improve our software.”

Just as I said at the start of this article, Microsoft lets early adopters test Windows 8 for free, and influence the development process of the platform for the better, in exchange for feedback. Users that don’t want to participate in this feedback program should not run Windows 8 Developer Preview. 

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

AMD FX-4100 Bulldozer Processor Available for Pre-Order

Even though AMD's FX-Series processors based on the high-performance Bulldozer architecture aren't expected to hit retail before the middle of October, these chips have already become available fore pre-order from various Websites, the latest CPU to be listed being the FX-4100.

The AMD FX-4100 is comprised out of two Bulldozer modules to deliver a total of four processing cores and it has a base clocks speed of 3.6GHz as well as 4MB of Level 2 cache memory and 8MB of L3 cache.

All these are fitted inside a 95W TDP and the chip was designed to be installed in motherboards using the AM3+ socket.

While this isn't expected to be launched ahead of its six- and eight-core peers, CPU-World reports that in the past few days, that CPU appeared for pre-order in several US online stores.

One of the retailers that offers this is Provantage who has the OEM (tray) version of FX-4100 for $179 (about 131 Euros), but the same CPU is also available from shopblt.com for $189.88 (roughly 138 Euros). 

At the time, the boxed version of the FX-6100 was listed for $188, which makes it $13 more expensive than its $175 (128 Euros) recommended price tag.

From the information that is available at this time, it seems like the FX-4100 won't be part of AMD's initial lineup of FX-Series processors, and will most probably make its way only into OEM desktop systems.

Acer, for example, will use the FX-4100 in the Aspire M3450 (model number PT.SHDP2.001), while Fujitsu will introduce the chip in the ESPRIMO P705 E85+ computer.

As mentioned above, AMD's first FX-Series processors are expected to arrive on October 12 and the initial lineup will include three CPU, two featuring an eight-core design while the latter, the FX-6100, packs only six computing cores.

Intel Sandy Bridge-E CPUs Can Overclock Up to 9.5GHz in Theory

Expected by computer enthusiasts and overclockers alike, Intel's processors based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture were specially designed in order to provide an impressive overclocking headroom, and the Santa Clara chips maker doesn't disappoint as its upcoming CPUs will be able to reach in theory speeds up to 9.5GHz.

The information surfaced thanks to a leaked Intel slide which details some of the overclocking features of Sandy Bridge-E processors.

According to this document, the two unlocked processors that Intel plans to unveil in mid-November, the Core i7-3960X and Core i7-3930K, will be able to reach frequencies between 7.4GHz and 9.5GHz when overclocked.

These are possible thanks to the 57X multiplier the processors are capable of, which combined with the maximum 166MHz BCLK, results in the impressive clock speed listed by Intel.

As far as the third chip in the Sandy Bridge-E lineup, the quad-core Core i7-3820 is concerned, this is the only one of the processors to come without a fully unlocked design and will have its maximum multiplier set at 45X, which results in a theoretical overclock of 7.5GHz.

Right now, the title of world's fastest processor is held by a yet unreleased AMD FX-8150 CPU based on the Bullodzer architecture, which was overclocked at 8.43GHz by using liquid hydrogen.

While this would look like an easy victory for Sandy Bridge-E, one has to keep in mind that the clock speeds detailed by the Intel slide represent the maximum theoretical frequencies the CPUs are capable of achieving, and that there is no guarantee the chips will come anywhere near those speeds.

Intel is expected to launch its first Sandy Bridge-E processors in on November 14 and they will be compatible with upcoming LGA 2011 motherboards based on the X79 Express chipset. (via Hardcore Hardware)

Motorola XOOM 4G LTE Hits Verizon on October 13th

Mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility and wireless carrier Verizon have just announced that a new tablet PC will become available for purchase on the carrier's airwaves soon, namely the 4G LTE-enabled version of Motorola XOOM. 

The new device is set to hit shelves at Verizon Wireless some October 13th, and will pack all of the features and capabilities that the original device does, plus the advanced connectivity option. 

The launch follows shortly the release of the 4G LTE upgrade for all existing XOOM devices on Verizon's network.

The Motorola XOOM 4G LTE should be able to provide users with average download speeds ranging from 5 to 12 Mbps, and with upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in areas where the wireless carrier's LTE network is available. 

The new device features a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, a dual-core 1 GHz application processor, 32 GB of built-in memory, and a microSD memory card slot for additional storage space. 

It also sports a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back, with LED flash and video recording capabilities, as well as a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling on the go (with support for 4G LTE, 3G and WiFi). 

The tablet PC runs under Google's Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS and offers support for Google Mobile Services like Gmail, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Movies, and Google Books. 

It also offers a great Internet browsing experience with support for Adobe Flash 10, as well as access to the Android Market, so that users can download and install various applications and games. 

The new Motorola XOOM 4G LTE will feature a price tag of $499.99 (around 367 Euros) with the signing of a two-year contract agreement with the wireless carrier, and will be released via all Verizon Wireless Communications Stores, and online on the carrier's website. 

It can be purchased on a range of data plans from the wireless carrier, with up to 10GB of monthly allowance for $80 a month (around 58 Euros).

Don’t Use Expired Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 M3 - After March 8, 2012

Early adopters currently testing the first public development milestone of Windows 8 lose all rights to use the Developer Preview release once Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) has passed its expiration deadline, according to Microsoft. 

As is the case with all pre-release software, and Windows 8 Build 8102 M3 is as pre-release as it gets, Windows Developer Preview is time-bombed. 

This means that Microsoft has slapped an expiration date onto the first public test Build of Windows 8. 

According to the information offered via the “About Windows” dialog box in one of the test copies of Windows 8 Developer Preview deployed here, the expiration deadline is March 12, 2012.

However, the EULA, or end user license agreement tells a story that’s a tad different, offering another expiration date, a few days ahead of the one revealed by “About Windows.”

“The term of this agreement will expire on March 8, 2012 (“the expiration date”),” reads an excerpt of the Windows 8 Developer Preview license terms. 

But the additional details that the Windows 8 Build 8102 M3 EULA contains are very interesting. It appears that the rights of early adopters testing the Windows Developer Preview will be drastically limited after the Build expires, namely after March 8, 2012.

As readers will be able to read below, the EULA covers not only Windows 8 Build 8102 M3 but also the applications that ship with it. 

“You have no right to use the software after the expiration date. Starting from the expiration date, you may not be able to access any unsaved data used with the software. Any applications you receive through the Windows Store will also cease to be available to you in future versions, unless they are made available for re-download and you re-acquire them. You may not receive any other notice,” the software giant reveals. 

As far as I’m concerned, testers have little to worry about. I’m more than sure that Microsoft will have already provided Windows 8 Beta before Windows Developer Preview expires, so testers will have a new toy to play with. 

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

iPhone 5 Supports HSPA+ (4G) Tech, Says China Unicom VP

A China Unicom executive pulled out a slide in front of a live audience at this week’s Macworld Asia event and claimed that the "iPhone 5", which Apple is said to unveil next week, will support the HSPA+ wireless standard, or "4G", in short.

Citing a Japanese IT site, Macotakara has a two language version report, of which the English version seems to confirm what the above picture shows: “iPhone 5 will support W-CDMA based high-speed data transfer standard HSPA Evolution "HSPA+" (21Mbps).”

The slide in question was reportedly shown by China Unicom's research VP, Huan Wenliang.

Offering a maximum data speed of 21 Mbps (theoretical), the technology would greatly improve Internet speeds on Apple’s iPhone.

It has been long speculated that the phone Apple plans to unveil next would not only be capable of 4G speeds, but also that it would be a world phone.

There hasn’t been a lot of leakage regarding the actual ‘iPhone 5’ (as far as I’m willing to believe), and none of the leaked parts that have been floating around indicate that those prototypes supported HSPA+.

In fact, all Apple has been leaking so far (again, this is just one opinion) are iPhone 4 prototype parts and maybe, just maybe, some altered version of that same device. There’s a good chance the company has been doing it on purpose to build up hype.

Therefore this editor believes it is entirely possible Apple will support the standard in its iPhone 5, even though there’s no real evidence to back these claims for now. For all we know, Huan Wenliang’s 4G iPhone 5 plug may have been based on bad info.

Apple has scheduled an iPhone event for October 4. The company’s press invitations bear some indication that there will be a single iPhone model launched next week, though this is purely speculative on the media’s behalf.

During the show, the Cupertino company will also be releasing iOS 5 and iCloud to the public. The ceremony will be conducted by Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook.

HIS Makes EyeFinity Multi-Monitor Gaming Cheaper with Special HD 6970

While multi-monitor gaming using AMD's EyeFinity technology is an attractive thought for most of us, such setups aren't cheap to build as users are required to use more expensive DisplayPort monitors or active DP adapters, so HIS developed an HD 6970 graphics card that does EyeFinity through the usual HDMI and DVI video outputs.

The new HIS graphics card is dubbed the HIS 6970 IceQ Eyefinity RTS (Ready-to-see) and it comes with two DVI ports, one HDMI video output as well as with a pair of mini-DP connectors.

While this configuration resembles pretty much the I/O setup of other AMD Radeon GPUs, the real breakthrough in HIS' implementation is that any of these outputs can be used for building an EyeFinity rig.

This means users can install two monitors via DVI, while the latter will connect through the HDMI port, effectively eliminating the need of buying more expensive DisplayPort-enabled displays.

Outside of these special features, the Eyefinity RTS is identical with the two other Radeon HD 6970 IceQ graphics cards previously launched by the company.

This means that HIS' latest creation relies on the same cooler design that pairs together four copper heatpipes with a large aluminum fin array and with a turbine fan for delivering temperatures up to 23°C lower than those of AMD's reference cards.

The operating clocks of the HIS 6970 IceQ Eyefinity RTS were kept to AMD's stock settings, so the core operates at 880MHz, while the memory is working at 1.375GHz (5.5GHz effective).

HIS hasn't released any information regarding the price, or the release date of the, 6970 IceQ Eyefinity RTS .

We do, however, know the graphics card will be bundled together with the DiRT 3 game as well as with a DVI-to-VGA adapter, a CrossFire bridge, and several other accessories.

The Radeon HD 6970 is based on the Cayman XT core and it features 1536 stream processors, 96 texture units, 32 ROP units as well as a 256-bit wide memory bus that is connected to a 2GB video buffer. (via Nordic Hardware)

SHARP AQUOS PHONE SH80F - World's First Android Device to Convert 2D Content into 3D in Real Time

Japanese carrier NTT Docomo and Orange have just announce a partnership to offer Sharp's AQUOS PHONE SH80F, the world's first Android device that is capable to convert 2D content into 3D content in real time. 

Although LG has already announced a dedicated software application for Android phones that can turn 2D games into 3D games, Sharp's smartphone can do it in real time.

The phone will be initially launched in France on October 6 for 199 EUR with a new two-year agreement, but the device will go live in other European and Asian countries soon after.

Sharp AQUOS PHONE SH80F allows users to watch 3D content without wearing special glasses on its 4.2-inch qHD capacitive touchscreen display.

With Sharp's upcoming Android smartphone users will be able to create their own 3D content using the included dual 8-megapixel cameras, or convert their 2D content into 3D. 

We are excited to be launching the AQUOS PHONE SH80F, thanks to our collaboration with NTT DOCOMO and SHARP. Orange is committed to bringing compelling innovations to our customers. Together, we share this ambition, launching this product in both Asia and Europe. We look forward to developing similar opportunities for our customers in the future,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President, Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange.

The whole conversion process from 2D to 3D is made in real time and simultaneous for all streaming content that users are watching, the carriers claim. 

Good news for mobile gaming fans, as the phone will be delivered with EA's Need for Speed Shift pre-installed and available in 3D. 

In addition, a range of 3D videos and photos are pr-loaded as well to demonstrate the full capabilities of the smartphone.

The smartphone is powered by the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform and packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.4 GHz processor, as well as 2GB of internal memory and microSD card slot for memory expansion.

Windows 8 Build 8102 Can Keep Consuming Battery When Switching from Sleep to Hibernation

In certain scenarios, early adopters testing the Windows Developer Preview can find that their devices have drained the battery even if they put Windows 8 Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) to sleep. 

Microsoft has confirmed an issue with Windows 8 Developer Preview in which the operating system keeps on consuming battery power despite testers putting their devices to sleep. 

While some early adopters running the Windows 8 Developer Preview might experience this issue, not all testers can come across it. 

I had the chance of playing with the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC for a few days, and fact is that I only put the device to sleep, but never had any issues with Windows 8 draining the battery.

Still, another tester of the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC told me that he had found the battery drained completely on his device after putting it to sleep. 

“Consider the following scenario: you turn on the hybrid sleep feature in Windows Developer Preview (codenamed "Windows 8"); Windows Developer Preview enters sleep mode (S3); Windows Developer Preview wakes up from S3 mode and tries to enter hibernation,” the software giant said. 

“In this scenario, Windows Developer Preview unexpectedly remains awake. This causes Windows Developer Preview to continue to consume battery power.”

Microsoft has already gotten to the bottom of this glitch. Here’s how the Redmond company explains the source of the problem:

“This problem occurs because of a timing issue that prevents Windows Developer Preview from entering hibernation (S4).”

Microsoft is already providing an update to Windows 8 testers affected by the issue described in this article. All that early adopters need to do is make their way to Windows Update and download KB 2617868, which will prevent Windows 8 from continuing to drain the battery when switching from sleep to hibernation. 

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

ASRock Also Outs AM3+ Motherboards for AMD FX-Series CPUs

ASRock already sells quite a few AM3+ solutions for AMD's upcoming FX-Series processors, but recently the company expanded its portfolio with two new motherboards compatible with desktop Bulldozer chips, the 990FX Extreme3 and the Extreme3.

Both of these solutions are pretty well equipped and come with a black PCB with some gold highlights that is guaranteed to please many modders interested in building an AMD FX system.

Starting with the more powerful 990FX Extreme3, this board was built in order to house CPUs with TDPs as high as 140W paired with CrossFireX or SLI graphics setups as it comes equipped with three PCI Express x16 slots.

As usual, only two of these get full x16 bandwidth, while the third only has four PCIe lanes routed to it.

The rest of the motherboard configuration features five SATA 6Gbps slots for connecting storage devices, a single PCI Express x1 slot, support for DDR3 memory up to 2100MHz, as well as the usual USB 3.0, eSATA and Gigabit LAN connectivity.

Users who want a less expensive motherboard, but nearly just as many features as in the 990FX Extreme 3 have the option of going for ASRock's other motherboard introduced today, the 970 Extreme3.

This includes the same support for DDR3-2100MHz memory speeds and 140W CPUs, five SATA 6Gbps ports, eSATA, Gigabit LAN and USB 3.0 connectivity.

As far as the expansion options available are concerned, ASRock's AMD 970 board includes a pair of PCI Express 3.0 slots as well as dual PCI Express x1 and dual 32-bit legacy PCI ports.

Unlike its older brother, the 970 Extreme 3 loses support for SLI setups, but is still capable of supporting dual-GPU CrossFireX configuration. 

The two new ASRock motherboards are already listed in various price comparison engines. The 990FX Extreme3 is listed starting at €108.60 ($147 US), while the simpler 970 Extreme3 is available starting at €80.64 ($109 US). (via HardwareLuxx)

Mystery Indian Tablet Costs Just $35

Some may have dismissed the idea of a super-cheap tablet as a good but impossible dream, but the Indian government begs to differ, as it has gone through with the plans to launch a $35 (25.69 Euro) tablet.

Going by what the slate industry looks like at the moment, tablets don't exactly make the top of the list in terms of affordability.

After all, with the standard price point being $500, tablets that approach the $300 and even $400 mark are seen as a marvel.

It is unclear where exactly this puts the tablet that the Indian government decided to make a fairly long time ago, and which is now nearing availability.

Understandably enough, the slate is still wrapped up in mystery, especially in regards to the insides, but the price makes that more or less mandatory.

Then again, any tablet with a selling point of $35 (25.69 Euro) is bound to leave people slackjawed, even if its features don't turn out to be top notch.

Indeed, it is unlikely that, performance-wise, the item will rival the iPad or any Android slate out there.

Nevertheless, the simple fact is that the electronic is the most affordable of its kind to ever surface and will reach students starting next month, on October 5, 2011, or so it is said.

"The computer will be launched next month," stated HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. "This is not just a dream, it is a reality."

Of course, it is unclear what the supply levels are, but it is still a good thing to know that the product has surmounted whatever manufacturing problems prevented it from arriving sooner.

Spec-wise, only the size, or sizes, are known: five inches, seven inches and nine inches, respectively.

Shibal hopes that the $35 wonder-tablet will not only allow students of all ages to broaden their horizons via the Internet, but also contribute to the effort of using IT to assist in rooting out corruption.

"Much of the talk of corruption that we have had in the recent past will be dealt with through initiative of IT. What we need to do is to ensure the scope of human intervention which is the scope of all corruption is dealt with and IT plays an important role in finding solutions and we are in the process of doing it," he said.

Google and Samsung Will Hold Unpacked Event on October 11th

The unveiling of the next flavor of Android is nearing fast, and all might go down on October 11th, 2011, when Google and its hardware partner Samsung will hold an unpack event they already sent invites to. 

“Join Us at Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2011to get a look at what’s new from Android,” the invitation reads. 

While nothing was officially confirmed on what might be launched at that time, rumor has it that we should see the Ice Cream Sandwich platform release going official. 

Moreover, there is the possibility that the two companies will announce a new Google phone, one that has been long rumored to arrive on shelves under the name of Nexus Prime

The event will take place during CTIA, which sustains that idea that new devices will be announced. Maybe we'll see a new tablet too.

Video of Alleged Ice Cream Sandwich on Nexus S Emerges

What appears to be the very first leak of Ice Cream Sandwich, Google's next version of Android, has made an appearance on the Internet, in a video that shows the Nexus S running under the platform. 

Apparently, the mobile phone was purchased from eBay, and came pre-loaded with the next version of Android on it. 

That platform release would be Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, if rumors are to be believed, and is expected to become official as soon as next month. 

Google has already announced that they will be holding an event together with Samsung on October 11th, and that event is expected to be dedicated to the unveiling of Ice Cream Sandwich. 

The device that can be seen in the video below, available courtesy of Engadget, appears to be running under an OS build that is different from the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform flavor that it usually sports.

Some of those who had a close look at the video report that the device appears to be running under a 3.x Kernel, and that most of the UI elements are similar to the Honeycomb OS flavor.

On this list, we can count the lockscreen, dialog boxes and color scheme, icons, Recent Apps list with titles and thumbnails, the Settings screens, or the Google search bar and the voice-input button on the homescreen. 

For what it's worth, this might be nothing more than a well-designed, elegant theme, one that makes the OS on Nexus S look more like the platform flavor destined for tablet PCs, and the entire story could be nothing but a hoax. 

However, there is also the possibility that the device is indeed powered by a newer build of Android, and that all the new elements that can be seen in the video below will make it to the final flavor of Ice Cream Sandwich, set to arrive before the end of the year. 

While keeping the entire story in the rumor section, we'll keep an eye out for more details on the upcoming platform version from Google, so stay tuned for additional info on this.

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