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Sep 30, 2011

Sony Puts Tablet S on Pre-Order in Australia

Sony Tablet S, one of the latest devices to be unveiled to the world with Google's Android Honeycomb operating system on board, is now available for pre-order in Australia, via the company's own website. 

Sony has just added Tablet S to its Australian website in two different flavors, differentiated by the amount of internal memory, namely 16GB and 32GB. Both devices sport only WiFi connectivity capabilities. 

The Sony Tablet S 16GB (Wi-Fi) arrives on shelves with a price tag of $579 (around $565 USD/ 417 Euros) attached to it. 

At the same time, Sony lists the 32GB model as available for pre-order for a bit more, at $689 AUD (about $673.35 USD / 500 Euros).

Both device models are available on Sony Australia's website here. Those who will access the said webpage will also observe that the tablets can be purchased with a free Bonus Cradle valued at RRP$69. Pre-orders will end on 19th October, 2011.

Running under Google's Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system and featuring a 9.4-inch TruBlack touch-screen display, the Sony Tablet S could easily prove a nice option for any user out there. 

The new device also comes to the market with a smooth touch experience with “Quick View” and “Quick Touch,” and with a series of games for PlayStation Certified devices installed on it.

Sony also packed it with a fast 1 GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 application processor, complemented by 1 GB of RAM, WiFi IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth connectivity, microSD memory card slot, a 5 Megapixels photo snapper and a front camera for video calling, and the like. 

“Imagine all of Sony’s expertise integrated to fit perfectly in your hand. A tablet that streams over 7 million songs from a global catalogue, downloads the latest movies from Sony Entertainment Network, is PlayStation Certified for the best gaming experience and acts as a universal remote control,” the vendor notes.

New iPhone 5 Cases in AT&T's Stores

The availability of a new iPhone model is drawing near, and the emergence of new cases for the upcoming device in stores at wireless carrier AT&T is a clear indicator of that. 

The wireless services provider should launch the iPhone 5 model in the near future, and photos with cases that will fit the handset have already started to make their way to AT&T's shelves. 

The iPhone 5 silicone sleeves reportedly arrived at AT&T only a few days ago, showing that Apple has come up with a new design for the device. 

This is not the first time when cases for the upcoming iPhone models emerge at the United States-based wireless carrier. 

A few weeks ago, we had the chance to have a look at what appeared to be cases for the other rumored new iconic device model, namely the iPhone 4S. 

The new iPhone 5 cases show that Apple will deliver a device with a tapered design, with the mute switch now on the other side of the handset, macrumors notes. 

One way or the other, the new cases show that there will be a series of design changes that users will enjoy, although nothing has been confirmed on the matter for the time being. 

As expected, AT&T will be getting the new iPhone on its network, and the same should apply to Verizon Wireless and Sprint. 

Rumor has it that there will be two new iPhone models arriving on shelves in the next few months, and that they will both sport global connectivity capabilities. 

Among them, the iPhone 4S should be only a refresh to the current iPhone 4 model, while the iPhone 5 might arrive on shelves with various enhancements, including support for LTE networks. 

According to some of the latest reports on the matter, Apple might be set to announce the availability of the new iPhone in the first half of October, so stay tuned to learn the news.

Intel Atom Cedarview CPUs Won't Support DirectX 10 After All

DirectX 10.1 support was one the major features Intel promised to deliver with the introduction of its new Cedarview Atom architecture, but recent reports suggest the chip maker wasn't able to keep up to its word as the Cedar Trail platform is limited at offering just DX 9 graphics.

Intel launched the Atom Cedarview netbook and nettop chips just earlier this week without making to much of a fuss about them.

Compared to their predecessors, these new processors were expected to bring a series of improvements to the graphics core and one of the most important features was the introduction of DirectX 10.1 support.

However, according to CPU-World's findings it seems like DX 10.1 hasn't made its way the new Atom CPUs and that Intel has no plans of introducing support for this API in upcoming versions of its graphics card drivers, as some of us have believed.

For now, the DirectX 9 graphics driver for the new Atom processors is in a beta state, and the final 32- and 64-bit versions are expected to arrive in November and respectively December.

The Cedar Trail platform is comprised of the Cedarview-D processor and the NM10 chipset, which is the same controller logic used by Pine Trail.

These are the first Atom processors to be built using the 32nm fabrication process and feature a unified architecture that packs both the computing cores and the graphics core on the same die.

Speaking of the computing cores, these use the same architecture as their predecessors, but the operating frequencies have been increased in order to allow for better performance.

More important changes were brought on the graphics front, where the CPUs have gained hardware decoding support for MPEG2, VC1, AVC, and H.264 Full HD content as well as for Blu-ray 2.0. 

In addition, Intel has also added support for Intel Smart Connect technology, and for the latest Wireless Display features, both of these being scheduled to arrive in Q1 2012.

'Free' iPhone 5 Upgrades Available Through Trade-In Program

NextWorth, a company that puts bread on the table through electronics upgrades and trade-ins, has announced a way for consumers to upgrade to the iPhone 5 for free. In fact, customers are promised some pocket cash as well, should their iPhone 4 be in mint condition.

“NextWorth … announces a way for consumers to upgrade to the soon-to-be-announced iPhone for free and get an extra $50,” says NextWorth. “By trading in a 16GB or 32GB iPhone 4 on NextWorth.com in good working condition before October 4th, the service will guarantee $250 for the trade-in and lock in the price for 21 days.”

The ‘free’ thing is actually based on the assumption that Apple will replace the iPhone 4 with the iPhone 5 without increasing the price for purchasing a brand new handset model with a two year carrier plan.

The same thing happened with the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4, so it is only natural to assume the iPhone 5 will follow the same pattern.

Their $250 trade-in price guarantee runs ‘till October 3rd. Apple is set to unveil a new iPhone on October 4th, be it the much rumored iPhone 4S, or the much more rumored iPhone 5.

“With so much uncertainty surrounding the launch of the new iPhone, we wanted to take the guesswork out of wondering when to upgrade/sell your old phone,” said Jeff Trachsel, CMO of NextWorth.

“Combined with our 21-day price lock and the extra $50 for trading up to the new iPhone, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a 10x increase in iPhone transactions this week,” added Trachsel.

Those looking to sign up for the trade-in will need to present NextWorth with a 16GB or 32GB iPhone 4 in good working condition with no heavy scratches or cracks. The company lays out the the trade-in process as follows:
  1. Go to www.nextworth.com, select the appropriate iPhone 4 and answer a few questions about its condition 
  2. Print the pre-paid shipping label, carefully pack your iPhone and give it to UPS 
  3. Once the iPhone is received, it is inspected to make sure that the item is in the condition described 
  4. NextWorth sends a check or gift card within 7-10 days of inspecting the iPhone 

The company says that if you don’t want the cash, you can get a gift card instead.

Elsa Outs Compact GTX 560 Ti Graphics Card for SFF Systems

Video card maker Elsa, has recently announced the introduction of a new solution graphics based on the GeForce GTX 560 Ti design, which uses a more compact PCB in order to make the card compatible with small form factor cases.

Compared to Nvidia's reference design for the GTX 560 Ti, Elsa's latest creation measures only 170mm (less than 6.7-inches) in length, which makes it almost 60mm shorter than its counterpart.

Elsa has achieved this feat by rearranging most of the components installed on the PCB, while also developing a more compact cooling solution that is also capable of coping with the heat produced by Nvidia's GPU.

The new radiator design covers most of the card's printed circuit board and uses a pair of thick 8mm anodized cooper heatipes in order to draw the heat away from the GF114 core.

In addition, the cooling assembly also contains a 80mm fan that has its rotation speed adjusted depending on the temperature of the graphics card.

Despite all the modifications made in order to shorten the GTX 560 Ti, Elsa has however managed to keep the operating frequencies of the GLADIAC GTX 560 Ti mini intact, which means that the GPU works at 822MHz, while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1002MHz (4008MHz data rate).

The video outputs of the GLADIAC were also left untouched, so the card comes with the standard dual DVI-D ports and with a mini HDMI connector.

According to Expreview, the GLADIAC GTX 560 Ti mini will become available for purchase in October of this year, for 24,000 Yen (about $312 US or 231 Euros).

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti is based on the company's GF114 core and it packs 384 shaders, 64 texture units, 32 ROP units, and a 256-bit memory bus that is usually connected to 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 vs. Kaspersky, Avira, AVG, Symantec, BitDefender on Windows 7 SP1

While Microsoft is busy improving the built-in antivirus capabilities of Windows 8, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 continues to be an excellent choice for customers looking for a free and basic security solution. 

MSE 2.0 was certified by AV-Test.org in the latest series of benchmarks which involved Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and a total of 25 products, from suites to free AV. 

Microsoft Security Essentials scored 11 out of a possible 18 points, and delivered a satisfactory performance, especially when compared to paid security suites. 

“During July and August 2011 we continuously evaluated 25 home user security products using their default settings. We always used the most current publicly-available version of all products for the testing,” AV-Test said. 

“They were allowed to update themselves at any time and query their in-the-cloud services. We focused on realistic test scenarios and challenged the products against real-world threats. Products had to demonstrate their capabilities using all components and protection layers.”

In terms of usability, MSE 2.0 had one of the highest scores, consistent with UX delivered by the free antivirus from Microsoft. With a score of 5.0, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 is on par with Avast: Free AntiVirus 6.0, Panda: Internet Security 2012, Kaspersky: Internet Security 2012, F-Secure: Internet Security 2011, ESET: Smart Security 4.2, Trend Micro: Titanium Internet Security 2011, Symantec: Norton Internet Security 2011, and AVG: Internet Security 10.0. 

Usability wise, only SecurityCoverage: SecureIT Plus 2011, Panda: Cloud Antivirus Free 2012, AVG: Anti-Virus Free Edition 10.0, and BitDefender: Internet Security 2011 & 2012 scored higher than MSE 2.0. 

When it comes down to Protection, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 scored just 2.5 points, the same as Total Defense (CA): Internet Security Suite 2011, placing in the last five products. 

Kaspersky: Internet Security 2012 with 6.0 and BitDefender: Internet Security 2011 & 2012 also with 6.0 with top scores offer the best security to end users, according to AV-Test. 

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0’s repair capabilities were also quite modest, with a score of only 3.5, compared to F-Secure: Internet Security 2011, Panda: Internet Security 2012 and BitDefender: Internet Security 2011 & 2012 which all scored 5.0.

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 2.1 is available for download on following links:
Microsoft Security Essentials 2.1.1116.0 32-bit
Microsoft Security Essentials 2.1.1116.0 64-bit

Gigabyte's Newest PSUs Are Superb

Gigabyte's Super line of computer power supplies may not be exactly new, but the five members covered in its latest and succinct press release definitely are, even if they haven't reached stores yet.

The new Superb Gigabyte PSUs are complaint with the ATX 12V v2.3 standard, have 80Plus certification, which means they are efficient (up to 82%), and also boast 120mm fans.

They also come with over-voltage, over-current, under-voltage and short-circuit protection, plus sleeved cables.

The E470C3 and E470C3 have an output of 470W, while the E570, E620 and E720 provide 570W, 620W and 720W, respectively (and obviously, the names say it all).

The PSUs also have multiple 12V rails each and will make their appearance in the next few weeks. 

How much they cost, unfortunately, is still unknown, but since the target consumer segment is the upper mainstream level, they will be priced accordingly.

Linux Could be Kicked-Out of Windows 8 PCs

Being advanced has its own pros and cons. And for the next generation of Windows 8 PCs, it’s going to be something very different. Following the news that the next generation of Windows 8 PCs will be equipped with a completely new booting specification known as UEFI or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, we were able to receive a rather shocking update about the UEFI’s supposed desirable feature. It appears that Microsoft has gone a little cold, although the UEFI specification is somewhat captivating, we’ve also heard that the interface could most likely include a special secure boot protocol that will be required to all Windows 8 users. Yes, it is a security feature that can not only preserve your PC’s software sanity but can also ward off infectious rootkits from entering into the system as well. But there’s a problem. 

Since UEFI will be requiring keys for drivers and executable files to operate properly within the system, unfortunately, those keys can also be used to keep you from changing your default Windows 8 operating system into something entirely different - such as the Linux open source platform. Wait, did we just say that the next generation of Windows 8 PCs will be closing its doors to Linux? Apparently yes. At least that’s what we are being told. If this is true, then this will certainly disappoint both Linux fanatics and avid developers. Mathew Garrett of Red Hat expressed his thoughts and concerns about the update saying, “If a vendor key is installed on a machine, the only way to get code signed with that key is to get the vendor to perform the signing. A machine may have several keys installed, but if you are unable to get any of them to sign your binary then it won't be installable. Microsoft requires that machines conforming to the Windows 8 logo program and running a client version of Windows 8 ship with secure boot enabled.” Ooops, Microsoft could be making a big mistake. Or, looking on the other side of things, it can work the other way

Nokia Promises Stunning Windows Phone Devices

In the next few months, the first Nokia handsets to run under Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system are expected to hit the market, and they are said to be stunning. 

Reportedly, these are the exact words that Nokia’s Conor Pierce, general manager for UK and Ireland, used to describe the future smartphones from the company: “absolutely stunning.”

In a recent interview with Pocket-lint, he also unveiled that the company's partners who saw the new devices were pleasantly impressed.

“To the partners we have shown the device to, their words, not necessarily mine - although I agree - upon showing it to them. It's spontaneous and unprompted. They say ‘the first Nokia Windows Phone is absolutely stunning’ and that’s die hard gurus in this business, who have thick skin,” he stated. 

“For them to say that spontaneously without any sales pitch shows what we are bringing is pretty spectacular. And that’s only the beginning.”

Before year's end, the Finnish mobile phone maker will bring to the market at least one handset that runs under the Windows Phone platform.

The previously showcased Nokia Searay device would be one of the new mobile phones, yet others might also be there (such as the recently spotted Nokia Sabre). 

However, these handsets will mark only the beginning of what should turn into a large number of impressive handsets that Nokia plans on releasing with Windows Phone on board. 

Next year, the company will ramp up production, and we'll see more devices available in a wider range of markets around the world, all running Windows Phone. 

Hopefully, they will indeed be as impressive as the vendor wants us to believe. One thing that is certain is that Nokia must not make a mistake with the release of Windows Phone devices. 

The company is already moving away from Symbian, is shutting off factories and is sending a lot of people home. All these, amid continuously losing market share in the smartphone segment and seeing its revenues sink.

Enable / Disable Hybrid Boot in Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 M3

Microsoft has already demonstrated Windows 8 booting in some 8 seconds, which included the time it took to load Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), the evolution from the traditional BIOS.

The accelerated start-up time is the result of what the Redmond company has dubbed Hybrid Boot. 

As the software giant explained it, Hybrid Boot brings the best out of two worlds, namely the old cold boot and hibernation. 

When Hybrid Boot is enabled, Windows 8 doesn’t close kernel session, but just user sessions. In traditional hibernation, both user and kernel sessions are written to the hard drive. 

What Hybrid Boot does is that it stores the kernel sessions on the HDD or SSD, accessing them extremely fast and transferring them to RAM, since they’re supposed to run into memory in the first place. 

Improved aspects of the old cold boot still exist, and work in tandem with the new enhancements based on the hibernation process. This is how Windows 8 machines with EUFI motherboards and SSDs can boot in as fast as 8 seconds, and even less. 

Hybrid Boot is also one of the new options available in Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3).

Users can either disable it or enable it. In order to do so they need to fire up Control Panel and make their way to Power Options. 

Once here, they have to click on the “Choose what the power buttons do,” in the left hand side pane. Right at the top of the next screen, they should select the “Change settings that are currently unavailable.” 

Hybrid Boot should be enabled by default, but if it’s not, this is the place to turn it on. Alternatively, users can also opt to have Windows 8 start-up with the old boot process if they so desire. 

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

New Nokia and Samsung Windows Phones Leak from Microsoft

Microsoft's hardware partners are working on the release of new handsets powered by the company's Windows Phone Mango operating system, and some new such devices have emerged in a recent leak.

Two Nokia phones and two handsets from Samsung have been recently listed on Microsoft Canada's website, yet they have been removed since. 

The Nokia Sea Ray was one of the two devices from the Finnish handset vendor, while the other was the Nokia Sabre. 

While the former was already spotted into the wild with the Windows Phone platform  on board, yet little is known on the phone that should be launched as the Nokia Sabre. 

However, it seems that the name was actually spotted into the wild before, and that the device might become official in the near future. 

As for the Samsung handsets that have just leaked from Microsoft themselves, we can count the Samsung Wembley and Samsung Yukon.

Apparently, the former should arrive on shelves with specs that bring it close to the recently launched Samsung Omnia W smartphone. 

It is expected to pack a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED WVGA touchscreen display and with a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back, as well as with a front facing camera for video calling. 

However, the new device will be more powerful than the Samsung Omnia W, since it will pack a faster, 1.5GHz application processor. 

The specs seem to match what is expected from Samsung's new Windows Phone Mango devices, yet it remains to be seen whether they will indeed be released with these hardware internals, or they will suffer modifications. 

As stated above, Microsoft has already modified the web page on which these devices were spotted, and no further details on them could be found. 

Mango has just started to arrive on existing handsets, and new phones should arrive on shelves as soon as October kicks off, but it should not be too long before these devices are made official, so stay tuned for more.

Nokia Shuts Down Manufacturing Plant in Romania, 2,200 Employees Fired

Bad news for Romanian Nokia employees working at the manufacturing facility in Cluj, as the Finnish company has just announced its plans to shut down the factory. 

According to Nokia, the planned closure will have a direct impact on approximately 2,200 employees. 

After reducing its R&D operations in Smart Devices and Mobile Phones earlier this year, Nokia has started to cut down some of its manufacturing facilities across the globe.

It seems that the Romanian factory is one of the first to be closed by Nokia, but the company also announced reductions of personnel at some of its manufacturing facilities in Salo, Finland, Komarom, Hungary, and Reynosa, Mexico.

Even though these manufacturing facilities will remain opened, to serve the European and North American smartphone market, Nokia intends to shift their focus to “customer and market-specific software and sales package customization.”

Europe is core to Nokia's future. In addition to our headquarters, we have a strong R&D presence in Europe. We have four major R&D sites in Finland and two major R&D sites in Germany, as well as Nokia Research Centers and other supporting R&D sites in Europe. Nokia also retains a strong local presence in our many sales offices throughout this region, as well as our operations in Salo and Komarom,” said Stephen Elop, Nokia President and CEO.

However, these changes will not affect the aformentioned factories in 2011, instead Nokia stated they will have an impact on the workforce beginning next year. 

Romanian workers affected by the planned changes will be offered “comprehensive support programs” to make the transition less painful.

On related news, another 1,300 Nokia employees working in Location & Commerce business will be fired as well.

It appears that the Finnish company plans to close its Location & Commerce operations in Bonn, Germany and Malvern, United States.

Ubuntu One Is Now Available on Windows

A client for the popular Ubuntu One online storage service from Canonical is now available for download for the Windows platform. 

It's a known fact that lots of open source lovers have to work on Windows or Macintosh platforms at work and have Ubuntu installed at home. 

Therefore, providing 5GB of free online storage, the new Ubuntu One client for Windows offers users the ability to store their files on a secure place, for syncing the data across multiple platforms. 

"We believe in giving all users regardless of platform, access to one of the best personal cloud services available." was stated in the official announcement. "We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy Ubuntu One and as a consequence, want to know more about all the great benefits of using Ubuntu." 

Download and install the Ubuntu One client for Windows from its official homepage.

Images below are the Ubuntu One setup walkthrough

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