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Mar 30, 2012

New BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Now Available for Download in Beta Zone

Another week, another update for BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). Last week Research In Motion deployed a pretty consistent update for the messaging application, which only included lots of bug fixes.

It looks like there's a lot that needs to be fixed within BBM, as the developers continue to deliver updates that correct some of these issues.

The latest update bring BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to version and, once again, fixes quite a number of bugs:

  • Missing BBM icon on OS 5.0;
  • Issues scrolling up through older messages on OS 6.0;
  • Issue selecting all the text by scrolling up/down in the inline display name and personal message fields;
  • Scrolling quickly in the inline edit view allowed the focus to move out onto your avatar;
  • Pressing the Enter key while the focus is on your avatar initiated the inline edit view.

There's more to it, as the update contains more specific bug fixes, which are meant to make users' experience smoother with BBM application. The following issue have been corrected in the last version of BlackBerry Messenger:

  • In the inline display name or personal message field, smileys were highlighted when added via the “Add Smiley” menu option;
  • Unable to scroll in certain directions within the inline display name and personal message field;
  • No “Save” menu option or prompt dialog when the inline display name or personal message field only contains smileys;
  • No red splat on the BBM icon after deleting a group icon from the Home Screen and receiving a group notification;
  • Notification view/today view does not show BBM Messages.

As with all beta version of BlackBerry applications, the latest version of BBM is available for download via BlackBerry Beta Zone.

Those who download and install the application are recommended to provide feedback, so that devs can further improve the software.

Android 4.0 ICS for DROID RAZR and RAZR MAXX Confirmed for April 4

Although Motorola has yet to offer an exact release date for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update for DROID RAZR and DROID RAZR MAXX, it appears that Verizon is hinting to possible April 4 release.

The folks over at AndroidPolice have just published a leaked Best Buy document, which confirms that three smartphones available for purchase through Verizon Wireless will receive a software update that will bring the operating system to Ice Cream Sandwich.

The document mentions that DROID RAZR (32GB and 16GB) and DROID RAZR MAXX will get the Android 4.0 ICS update on April 4. In addition, HTC Rezound will also receive the update two days later, on April 6.

For the time being, it's unclear how accurate is the information, but we should expect more devices to be updated in the following weeks.

BlackBerry Curve 9220 Full Specs Revealed, Simulator Now Available for Download

As expected, Research In Motion is about to launch several budget-friendly smartphones in the following months to expand its BlackBerry 7 portfolio even further.

The first low-end device to hit shelves if BlackBerry Curve 9220, which has already leaked several days ago. Even though we didn't know anything about its specs until today, we assumed that its features couldn't be so impressive.

Shortly after Research In Motion announced its quarterly financial results, the Canadian company came forward with a short announcement that details BlackBerry Curve 9220 specs sheet.

Firstly, the Curve 9220 will be shipped with BlackBerry 7.1 OS out of the box, so users would not have to wait for the latest update released by RIM.

Secondly, the smartphone looks like any other ordinary BlackBerry smartphones. It has a bar form factor and features the usual full QWERTY keyboard.

Although we don't have any info on the smartphone's processor, we know that it packs 512 MB of RAM and 512 MB of internal memory. There might be a microSD card slot for memory expansion as well, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Furthermore, the device sports a small 2.44-inch standard display that supports 320 x 240 pixels resolution (164ppi). There's also a sub-par 2-megapixel camera on the back that features 5x digital zoom.

BlackBerry Curve 9220 supports EDGE and GPRS, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. FM Radio and music player are included as well.

Apart from unveiling the full specs of the smartphone, RIM announced the immediate availability of a BlackBerry 9220 simulator aimed at developers. In addition, the handset vendor confirmed that BlackBerry App World is now open for submissions of applications for Curve 9220.

According to RIM, developers who already created apps for BlackBerry 9300 smartphones series will have an easier time porting them to this new handset. BlackBerry Curve 9220 smartphone simulator is now available for download here.

HIS Reveals Radeon HD 7850 fan 2 GB Graphics Card

After we got the GeForce GTX 560 SE from Yeston, a card that suits mainstream users instead of hardcore gamers, we get to look at the somewhat more expensive HIS Radeon HD 7850.   

Priced at $301.05 / 225.6 Euro (and possible lower on other retailers), it is fully detailed here, so we won't list all the features and specs. 

We'll still mention the essential performance numbers though.   

The GPU has a clock speed of 860 MHz for the GPU and 4,800 MHz for the memory (2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM).   

Meanwhile, the memory interface is of 256 bits and the iTubro software can be used to tweak the clocks.   

Furthermore, the product features VGA, DisplayPort and dual-link DVI outputs, plus a single-fan cooler that should be both effective and silent enough for pretty much everyone.

Sharp Tablets Getting McAfee Security Software by Default

In order to differentiate its Android tablets from all others, Sharp has decided to pre-load them with security software, even though it isn't actually doing it for free, regardless of what it says.

Sharp is one of the many providers of Android tablets, which means that it needs some means of making its products stand out.

According to a new press release, the latest such means is a security suite developed by McAfee.

To be more specific, McAfee Mobile Security will be installed on all Android slates from now on, or most of them anyway.

The announcement says the feature is free of charge, and it is true, but not really: users will have only a free trial of 30 days, after which they will have to pay for a one-year subscription that's 2,980 yen, or 24.10 dollars / 18.10 Euro, excluding tax.

“McAfee has worked successfully with Sharp in the past to provide McAfee Mobile Security to users of the Sharp GALAPAGOS tablet,” said Jean-Claude Broido, president of McAfee Japan. 

“By providing our mobile security protection pre-installed on a learning device designed for the education market, we will be able to provide a safer mobile computing environment to a wider range of users.”

Regarding Sharp's tablet portfolio, the press release specifically mentions the ones intended for students, with anti-glare LCDs and pen support.

They will start shipping this month, which might mean April, even though the announcement was made on March 29.

It bears noting there are very few viruses and malicious software targeting Android compared to how many malicious programs attack Windows PCs each year.

Nevertheless, they still exist, and McAfee's Mobile Security suite has other functions beyond providing defense against them. Owners of Sharp tablets will be able to avoid risky sites (SiteAdvisor), back up and restore their data and even remotely lock and wipe the device, should it be stolen or lost.

Micron and Oracle Settle DRAM Price Fixing Lawsuit

Marking one of the rare cases when an antitrust lawsuit actually ends instead of being started, Micron and Oracle have reached a settlement in their antitrust battle. 

With all the legal fights going on, there are few occasions where we can actually sit back and say that progress is being made.

As such, Micron and Oracle are actually part of the minority in terms of IT companies that face each other in court.

And by minority, we mean to say that the times we hear about companies settling their differences are fewer and far between than the ones where a new lawsuit is filed.

Oracle filed a suit against Micron a while ago, saying that the latter participated in a conspiracy to increase DRAM prices.

It also accused Micron of having broken a number of other federal and state antitrust and fair competition laws, between August 1, 1998 and June 15, 2002.

The monetary implications of their settlement were not perfectly outlined, but it seems like Micron is the one doing the paying.

In other words, while all claims have been dropped and litigation dismissed with prejudice, Micron will be the one suffering from financial losses.

For those interested, as far as the second fiscal quarter of 2012 goes, the net loss to shareholders and revenue amounts to $282 million (2011.25 million Euro), though not all of it is attributable to the settlement.

In case anyone wants to see more about legal spats on the IT market, the most recent one we wrote about is the one involving Samsung's chairman. Unlike on other occasions, it wasn't the company that got sued, but its chairman. By his family.  

That's right, on the one hand we have IT players moving past their conflict, and on the other we have the industry becoming the playground for a family feud. Alas.

Sparkle Launches GeForce GTX 560 SE Graphics Card

We've written about many GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards these past two weeks, but now we get to offer some information on a board that will better suit the needs of the masses.

Not that the 680 doesn't have what it takes for it, but it is definitely not something most people can afford, even with its price advantage over AMD's Radeon HD 7970.

Sparkle is the one making the formal introduction of the GeForce GTX 560 SE.

One would argue that the company is a bit late to the party.

Still, we have to admit that launching something like this just when people are getting their fill of top-tier models can come across as a timely breath of fresh air.

That said, the product is powered by the GF114 graphics processing unit (GPU) and suited up in a fairly common dual-slot cooler.

Spec-wise, the card has 288 CUDA cores, 1 GB of GDDR5 VRAM and a GPU clock speed of 736 MHz, plus a memory interface of 192 bits.

In the company's words, GTX 560 SE delivers “the ultimate next generation gaming experience”, but we'll add “in its price range” for the sake of accuracy.

Speaking of price, the press release dodges the issue, saying only that “now is the perfect time to upgrade your graphics card at a surprisingly affordable price” and that GTX 560 SE “offers a great value for money at a 25% less than GeForce GTX 560 price.”

Considering that the latter costs under $200, we guess that means $150 or so. Other GTX 560 SE models go for 133 Euro online, so we assume Sparkle's product will do the same.

For those who want more info on the Sparkle GTX 560 SE, the connection to the PC is done via Dual-link DVI (two ports) or HDMI. Finally, noise shouldn't be much of a problem.

Script: FixedHeaderTable

FixedHeaderTable is a lightweight jQuery plugin for adding fixed headers to long HTML tables.

Besides this, the plugin has other plenty useful features when creating data-grid like tables that hold lots of data.

Developers can also create fixed footers as well, add zebra style rows, clone the header column names to the footer row for easy data detection, and even create fixed column(s) for tables that are more wide than long.

Documentation and demos are available on the plugin's homepage, and with the download package as well.

FixedHeaderTable is currently developed through its GitHub account, and new versions are constantly being released.

Download FixedHeaderTable here (ZIP), or here (TAR).

Xyratex Intros OneStor 2584

In today’s data world you can never have enough storage space, but most of today’s storage solutions seem unstructured, lacking expansion options and are generally not dense enough. Xyratex has just introduced OneStor 2584 on their official website, a storage solution that shows much promise when facing these issues.

The OneStor 2584 is really dense as it offers a capacity of up to 84 SAS or SATA hard disk drives in 3.5” format. The official press release also mentions support for the same amount of 2.5” hard or solid state disc drives.

The odd thing is that they don’t mention and thus seem not to have any capability of installing a larger number of drives if the drive format is of smaller volume. We’re hoping to see these types of professional data storage solutions being able to fit around three, smaller, 2.5” drives in the space normally occupied by two 3.5” hard drives, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with Xyratex’s new product.

The maximum hard drive capacity supported by the OneStor 2584 is 3 Terabytes working on a 6 Gb/s interface.

The whole thing takes a 5U space in your rack and comes with PSUs that are 80 Plus certified and guaranteed to offer a 92% efficiency at 50% load.

The expansion interface has three universal x4 6Gb mini-SAS connectors (SFF-8088) per I/O module and the maximum system configuration is a dual host-connected enclosure with a maximum expanded configuration of 4 enclosures for a total of 336 drives.

The exact physical dimensions of Xyratex’s new toy are 220 mm height representing an exact 5 EIA units. That is 8.65 inches. The width of 483mm is 19 inches and is IEC rack compliant. And the depth is 933 mm representing 36.75 inches.

The total estimated weight with all the drives is 128 kilograms representing around 282 pounds.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Pushed to April for Xperia Smartphones

Today, Sony has officially confirmed that it will start the delivery of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for its Xperia series only in mid-April. 

The roll-out was initially expected to start sooner than that, but the company won’t have the OS upgrade available for users for the next two weeks, it seems. 

In mid-April, owners of Xperia arc S, Xperia neo V and Xperia ray will start receiving the update, the company announced. The deployment will continue over 4-6 weeks. 

In May/early June, the company will start to roll out this upgrade to other handsets in the series, including Xperia arc, Xperia PLAY, Xperia neo, Xperia mini, Xperia mini pro, Xperia pro, Xperia active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman.

Apparently, the update to Android 4.0 won’t arrive on Xperia S until the late part of the second quarter, a post on XperiaBlog reads.

MediaTek Releases Wi-Fi-Bluetooth Combo Chip

MediaTek has formally announced the MT7650, a wireless chip that combines the benefits of two distinct wireless communication technologies.

The new chip combines MAC/Baseband/Radio 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.0+HS all in a single chip.

No doubt this is a result of the resource merge of MediaTek and Ralink.

At any rate, the new chip is intended for mobile consumer platforms, and this means everything from small phones to large laptops.

That is to say the list of products that will benefit from this all-in-one wireless chip includes phones, tablets, gadgets, netbooks, ultrabooks, notebooks, etc.

“The demand of high quality digital-content streaming and sharing has increased rapidly. At the same time, peer-to-peer data communication is shifting from wired to wireless connections,” said SR Tsai, general manager of MediaTek’s wireless connectivity and networking business unit.

“Therefore, mobile devices are relying heavily on high quality wireless connections, but the current Wi-Fi technology standard is overwhelmed by all the bandwidth needs. With the latest 802.11ac, the MediaTek MT7650 overcomes these challenges and allows consumers to stream and transfer heavy contents between mobile and home consumer devices much faster and much more reliable with ultra low power consumptions.”

For those who want to know more specifics, the newcomer supports dual band 2.4/5GHz single stream 802.11ac (up to 433Mb/s data rate (HT80) with antenna diversity).

Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi Display are featured as well, along with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Bluetooth 3.0 + HS and Bluetooth 4.0 LE compatibility.

Furthermore, BT Class 1 operation is possible, for better Bluetooth range, while an advanced WLAN + Bluetooth coexistence algorithm optimizes performance even further.

Not only that, but external splitters are unnecessary thanks to a shared Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signal receiving path. Finally, Wake-on-WLAN and Wake-on-Bluetooth are both present and accounted for.

MediaTek should have the chip shipping in the second half of the year. MT7650 will work under Windows 7, Windows 8 and Linux operating systems.

Samsung Receives Pre-Orders for 10 Million Galaxy S III Units

Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone is expected to prove a highly popular device right from the start, the latest reports on the matter suggest. 

Apparently, the handset vendor has already received pre-orders for more than 10 million Galaxy S III units from its partners, which sounds more than impressive for a yet unannounced phone.

In comparison, Samsung managed to ship a number of 5 million Galaxy Note units in only five months after the phone’s official launch. 

Of course, the large screen that this handset sports makes it fit only for a reduced number of users, something that won’t happen with Galaxy S III

Not to mention that the forthcoming device will build on the impressive success that the Galaxy S II smartphone has already seen. 

Samsung’s next Android-based flagship phone will help the company top the 40 million smartphones shipped in the first quarter of the year, a recent article on UnwiredView explains. 

Both Galaxy S II and Galaxy S are still selling well, and, helped by other devices from the company, should help Samsung reach 40 million sold smartphones in Q2 quite easily. 

To that, we should add the said 10 million of already pre-ordered Galaxy S III units, which should be launched in the second quarter of the year. 

The total number of Samsung smartphones sold in the next three months could rise to over 50 million, UnwiredView suggests. 

Samsung already managed to take the top spot on the smartphone market, and it might grow even more if these sales figures pan out. By the looks of it, things will indeed turn up this way, all in Samsung’s favor. 

Of course, it still remains to be seen what exactly Samsung will have to offer with the new Galaxy S III. The phone was already said to pack state-of-the-art hardware and capabilities, but nothing has been officially confirmed for the time being.

AVADirect Uses NVIDIA GTX 675M Graphics in Clevo P270WM Gaming Notebook

AVADirect's Clevo P270WM gaming notebook has received a new graphics update in the form of the latest mobile GPU from NVIDIA, or one of them.

Alas, the GTX 675M is not something that can truly qualify as a next-generation graphics chip.

After all, instead of the Kepler architecture, it is a rebranded GTX 580M.

Still, an update is an update, so people who want a gaming notebook may as well give the Clevo P270WM at least a cursory glance.

DirectX 11 support, 3D Vision, PhysX, 3DTV Play, HDMI support, dual-link DVI connectivity and the NVIDIA Optimus technology are among the features that AVADirect felt was appropriate to specifically name.

Go here to see all the parts and/or to pre-order, but remember to bring at least $2256.35. That sum translates into 1,689.26 Euro, based on exchange rates.

Meet Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3

It's really a pleasure to present to you the first of the new Sniper series motherboards, the G1.Sniper 3, as it packs the latest technologies developed in the Gigabyte labs and looks very good, as well.

The G1.Sniper 3 comes with an all-digital power controller and precise auto voltage regulator, sworn to deliver the best current for the CPU, HD Graphics chipset, memory and VTT, using 4 individual channels linked to 4 power zones. This ensures that the current flow is as close as possible to the manufacturer's specifications in most scenarios, and this spells stability and reliability.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 is an Intel Z77-based board and boasts support for 4-way CrossFireX and 4-way SLI for the ultimate scalability and versatility, while the THX-certified Sound Core3D Audio chip and dedicated front-end headphone amplifier make sure gamers will enjoy true-to-life, realistic sounds with both games and other media content.

As for other features, users will surely be happy to learn about the 32 GB maximum DDR3 capacity, 1900 x 1200 output integrated graphics chipset, Killer LAN connectivity, no less than 6 SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 2 USB 3.0 ports and dual 3.0 headers.

iPhone 5 to Use Power Management Chip by Dialog Semiconductor - Report

An Asian source is reporting that Apple may use power management chips designed by Dialog Semiconductor and manufactured by TSMC, making their way into the next-generation of iPhones.

Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes cites a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report as saying that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) “has secured orders from Dialog Semiconductor for its power management chips used in Apple's upcoming devices.”

TSMC has reportedly cut into the supply chain for the iDevices that are currently available to the market by providing foundry services for Broadcom, CSR, Cirrus Logic and Qualcomm.

The backend services for the Dialog chips manufactured at TSMC will reportedly be provided by Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL).

It is unclear exactly what added benefits these new chips will bring.

Raspberry Pi Delayed Due to CE Certification

Raspberry Pi is getting a much harder start than previously predicted. After some problems with the hardware, it now seem that the CE compliance testing will be setting the launch date a little but further than expected. 

According to the developers of Raspberry Pi, from The Raspberry Pi Foundation, both RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell have informed them that they are not able to distribute the Raspberry Pi until it has received the CE mark.

The Raspberry PI Foundation hoped that if the board is not a finished product, given the fact it has no casing and it will probably be used mostly in development, they would not need a certification, but the volume of the first shipment, 2000 pieces, is too large for this exemption.

As some of you might already know, all electronic products must undergo some specific testing which determines the levels of EM radiation and other measurements, in order to make it compliant with the European Union regulations.

Raspberry Pi relies on an ARM processor with a clock speed of 700 MHz, 256 MB of RAM, an SD card slot and a 5V Micro USB connector that supplies the power. It also features RCA and HDMI ports.

We will keep you informed with further information on release dates and other issues as soon as they become available.

One Laptop per Child Gets Funding from Islamic Development Bank

It wasn't long ago that we learned about the first batch of XO 1.75 laptops and, now, the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) nonprofit organization has more good news to impart.

In its latest press release, OLPC reveals that it can go ahead and carry out a similar distribution of laptops in Cameroon, a nation in West Africa.

5,000 XO laptops will be shipped in total, thanks to the funds provided by the Islamic Development Bank.

"We are delighted to be working with the Islamic Development Bank on the financing of projects that support our mutual objective of fostering economic development and social progress," said Rodrigo Arboleda, chairman and CEO of the One Laptop per Child Association. 

"We are seeing tremendous interest in OLPC throughout Africa and look forward to working with both public and private sector partners in a number of countries to launch, expand and support other initiatives in the months ahead."

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit organization that exists for the purpose of providing every child in the world with a laptop, or an equivalent educational device.

That way, all young people may have access to channels of learning, sharing and self-expression.

As for the Islamic Development Bank, it is a multilateral financing institution whose aim is to boost the economic development and social progress of its 56 member countries, Cameroon being one of them.

Speaking of which, a team from Cameroon's Ministry of Education has established an OLPC project in Mali, for training. This endeavor will be followed by initiatives on the part of other countries this year (2012).

 As before, in order to learn more about the XO 1.75 laptop, one only needs to visit the official website of the OLPC. The ARM Armada 610 processor from Marvell, the Sugar learning environment and the power consumption of just 4W (200 milliwatts when idle) are the highlights.

AMD Powers the New PlayStation 4

American CPU maker AMD is rumored to be the manufacturer of choice for Sony’s new game console main processor and the GPU. Many of you would think that this is the first AMD-made chip in a game console, but that is not the case.

It may be the first AMD-branded chip, but it’s definitely not the first time the AMD team has worked on a game console.

Twelve years ago, AMD’s graphics division ATI acquired a graphics chip design company called ArtX Inc. The team at ArtX is mainly responsible for the graphics processor used in Nintendo’s GameCube entertainment console. It was called Flipper and by 2002 ATI was already announcing the shipment of their 12 millionth GameCube GPU.

Flipper was a 162 MHz chip with 3MB of integrated 1T-SRAM, running at twice the core speed. This memory was split into two parts: 1 MB for texture buffer and 2 MB for the frame buffer, both being clocked at 324 MHz.

The chip was built using 180nm manufacturing technology and had four pixel pipelines with one TMU per pipe. The memory bandwidth was at a maximum of 10.4 GB/s and the frame buffer peaked at 7.6 GB/s.

Three years later, ATI was designated to upgrade their Flipper GPU and to offer a new generation of graphics performance for the 2006 introduction of Nintendo’s Wii game console.The resulting solution was called Hollywood.

This was a two-chip solution made out of a new version of Flipper running at 50% higher speed along with an I/O and RAM controller chip called Napa. Built using 90nm manufacturing technology, these two chips sat on an MCM, along with an ARM 926 core, the whole package being baptized Hollywood.

Back in 2005, ATI was announcing that it was manufacturing the new GPU for Microsoft’s Xbox360 game console.

In 2006 AMD acquired ATI and by 2009 AMD was bragging about shipping its 50 millionth Hollywood chip.

Currently, having sold over 100 million game console GPUs and powering two of the most popular game consoles in the market today, it’s no wonder Sony ditched Nvidia as its GPU design partner and went with AMD.

EVGA's X79 Boards Get New BIOS

It seems like the Intel X79 chipset hasn't caught THAT much; with major manufacturers surfacing a rather small number of motherboards built with this specific chipset and the recent wave of Z77 and H77 gear, the X79 might have already lived its life.

Nevertheless, BIOS support for the X79 boards will carry on a while, and here's the latest for the EVGA boards. Revision 35 is intended for the X79 SLI, X79 FTW and X79 Classified boards, and brings improvements in the memory compatibility.

This new BIOS comes with 2400MHz memory support and enhanced memory overclocking , while fixing the "6A" coldboot issue and helping with the BIOS cleanup. Like with any BIOS update, users are advised to refrain from restarting or interrupting their PCs while flashing is in progress. At the same time, EVGA stresses it's not advisable to flash the BIOS on overclocked settings.

No Price Cut on AMD's Radeon HD 7970, Unfortunately

NVIDIA's release of the GeForce GTX 680 was considered, by some, the herald of price reductions on AMD's side of the field, but those holding such hopes will have to cope with disappointment. 

For those who want a recap of the situation, NVIDIA's launch of the new GK104 Kepler-based video adapter was welcomed by people on both sides (its own and AMD). 

As odd as it sounds, AMD loyalists had a reason to rejoice because, since the Kepler board is both faster and cheaper, it meant a likely reduction in Radeon prices, to maintain the competitive edge, or at least a semblance of balance. 

Alas, going by what HardwareCanucks has reported, there are definitely not going to be any modifications to the average selling price of the Radeon HD 7970. 

The Sunnyvale, California-based company may, eventually, change its mind, but the new card from NVIDIA isn't enough of an incentive, even though stronger (and cheaper). 

AMD might let the tags drop a bit once its next-generation line nears, but that is still months away. 

The reason Advanced Micro Devices isn't budging is because a reduction in the HD 7970 price would have to be followed by similar treatment to all other HD 7000 Series boards. 

The HD 7950, HD 7870 and HD 7850 have fairly high prices too, and understandably so, one might argue. They are, in the end, particularly powerful for the market segments they cover. 

Needless to say, that isn't going to bring a smile on the faces of many people though, but there isn't anything we can do about it. 

All in all, even while NVIDIA GeForce GTX 689 begins to spread its wings and fly, AMD is hoping to reel in more buyers regardless. That said, hit the stores and take your pick. NVIDIA's Kepler product shouldn't be too far from the $499 tag (420 Euro, according listings), while AMD's HD 7970 hovers around $549 (500 Euro, give or take, in Europe).

Android 4.0.4 Factory Images Released for GSM Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus

Following the release of Android 4.0.4 AOSP code for the GSM flavor of Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus only a few days ago, Google has also made available for download the full OS images for these devices. 

Through these, compatible devices can be restored back to stock, if anything went wrong while you were installing something else on them. 

One thing that should be noted right from the start is that you will wipe your devices clean when installing these images. The phone will be brought to a factory default state. 

“We've just made the factory image for Galaxy Nexus GSM/HSPA+ available for download,” Google’s Jean-Baptiste Queru notes in a post on Google Groups. “This file, once unarchived, contains the bootloader, baseband, and the rest of the system.”

These factory images are recommended mainly for those who managed to break their devices, or even brick them. Of course, users can also install these files to get their phones up to Android 4.0.4 before Google makes the OS officially available for them. 

GSM Nexus S (soju) owners should also note that the factory image might not work on all of their devices. Due to differences in radios, which are flashed as well, things might end up badly. 

The said factory images are available today for download from Google’s website. They are meant for GSM/HSPA+ model (“yakju” / “maguro”) and for GSM Nexus S (worldwide version - "soju").

To install these, users will have to download the archives on their computers and unzip them in a folder on the hard disk. They also need to install the Android SDK on their computer, along with the fastboot application (it should be un-archived in the same folder as the unzipped factory image). 

“You'll need to have fastboot in your path, and to have the device in fastboot mode before you can use it (either "adb reboot bootloader", or press-and-hold both volume-up and volume-down then press-and-hold power),” Jean-Baptiste Queru continues. 

“For convenience, a flash-all.sh script is provided as well, which restores the entire phone to its factory state.

“If you're only flashing some of the images, I strongly recommend flashing things in the same order as flash-all.sh. Specifically, flash the bootloader before the radio, and reboot after flashing the bootloader or the radio.”

Specific details on the process of installing a factory image on Galaxy Nexus can be found on Android To Be. Note that this is not simple and that it would be more convenient to wait for the official update to be delivered to you.

Mar 29, 2012

Intel Medfield-Based Lava Xolo X900 Coming to India in Late April

Showcased one month ago at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Lava’s Xolo X900 Android smartphone will make its debut in India in late April.

The folks at AndroidOS have been tipped on the smartphone’s availability timeframe, though there is no detail on Xolo X900’s price tag. Rumor has it that the device will be priced lower than expected in order to successfully compete with other regional brands.

Word is that Lava will launch the Xolo X900 for around 400 USD (300 EUR) off-contract, but this has yet to be confirmed by the manufacturer.

Although the device will be shipped with Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box, Lava promised the phone would be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich sometime this year.

Anyway, the phone’s main selling point appears to be the Intel Medfield chipset inside. Xolo X900 is powered by a 1.6 GHz Atom Z2460 single-core processor, but it can run up to 2 GHz. 

However, it will be Lava’s decision to ship the Xolo X900 with a higher speed CPU, or keep the processor clocked at 1.6 GHz. 

It is also worth mentioning that Intel Medfield’s chipset also features a 400 MHz graphics processing unit, which bolsters the processor’s capabilities when the phone is used for playing games.

Furthermore, Lava Xolo X900 sports a large 4.03-inch capacitive touchscreen display, as well as an impressive 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash. There’s also a secondary 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls.

The smartphone comes with a 1460 mAh Li-Ion battery inside, and a wide range of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, NFC (Near Field Communications), HDMI, HSPA+, Bluetooth and microUSB.

On a side note, Lava Xolo X900 might be launched on Aircel and Airtel airwaves, but the Intel-based handset may also hit shelves at leading retailers across the country.

Nokia Working on Patenting Its Morph Concept Phone

One of the most interesting devices that Nokia might come up with sometime in the not too distant future is a mobile phone with a morphing design. 

Featuring a flexible body, including the screen and some of its internals, the device would enable users to wear it as a bracelet, or hold it in their hands as a leaf-shaped candybar.

Clearly, this appears to be an idea extracted from a sci-fi movie, but Nokia fans should already be familiar with the Nokia Morph concept phone, which allegedly features the capabilities mentioned above.

Apparently, the day when this device would become reality is closer than believed: Nokia is working on patenting the flexible device.

In fact, the company has already filed an application to have the patent approved. This means that they might be indeed considering the possibility of marketing a handset that would feature a transformable body.

But there’s more to it, as Nokia also mentioned in the patent filing that the device could sport connectivity to “a remote processing unit,” along with other features.

The said patent application offers more info on the matter:

An apparatus comprises a transformable body configured to be elastically stretchable between at least a first configuration and a second configuration, a user input device, a user input device configured to receive user input signal, a communication interface configured to provide a wireless link for the apparatus and a flexible interconnection between at least two components within the transformable body. 

The apparatus may perform determining of user information based on the user input signal, transmitting at least part of the user information over the wireless link to a remote processing unit, receiving feedback information from the remote processing unit and presenting the feedback information to the user.

Of course, the fact that Nokia applied for this patent does not prove the upcoming availability of such a device, though it strongly suggests that this would be possible. Enthusiasts will certainly keep their fingers crossed for it to be launched.

Transformers: Fall of Cybetron Gets Gameplay Trailer, Release Date

Activision has just unveiled the first gameplay trailer for its upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron game, alongside an actual release date for the new title.

Quite a few Transformers games have appeared from Activision in recent times, including many adaptations of the actual movies, but also standalone experiences like the impressive War for Cybertron.

Developer High Moon Studios is back with Fall of Cybertron, which was revealed late last year through an impressive trailer, and has now posted the first gameplay video with the title.

The footage shows off lots of action and many characters, both from the Autobot and the Decepticon factions.

The video also presents a release date for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, which is out in North America on August 28. A European launch date isn’t official just yet, but you can bet that the game is going to make its appearance on the old continent on August 31.

Samsung Registers New Galaxy Names: Grand, Premier and Next

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung appears set to greatly expand its Galaxy lineup of devices, and is securing trademarks for various names these products could feature. 

Recently, the company filed applications for the trademarking of names such as Galaxy Grand, Galaxy Premier, and Galaxy Next.

The trademarking of these three names follows a similar move from Samsung made for Galaxy Thunder, Galaxy Express, and Galaxy Accelerate. 

One thing that should be noted here is that Samsung did use some of these names for its devices in other countries around the world, but not in the United States. 

Clearly, the handset vendor plans on re-using these monikers, though it remains to be seen what products will be pushed to shelves with these attached to them. Hopefully, some of them will be US-specific flavors of the upcoming Galaxy S III flagship.

Scythe Releases Improved Grand Kama Cross CPU Cooler

The recent product release wave may have been of graphics cards, but that doesn't mean that CPUs aren't receiving their own share of love. 

In fact, Scythe has revealed an improved version of the Grand Kama Cross CPU cooler. 

Called Grand Kama Cross Rev. B, it uses the Top-Flow design that creates airflow for the various motherboard components, not just the CPU. 

It is compatible with AMD 754, 939, 940, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+ and FM1 CPUs, as well as LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA775, LGA2011 and LGA1366 chips from Intel. 

The chip support for LGA2011 really is more or less the whole “upgrade.” Everything else should be the same as what the good old product page says. 

Sales should be underway for 30.50 Euro, which more or less translates into $40.47.

How to Install Update 12070 on Nokia Lumia 800

Today, Nokia announced the global availability of a new software update for its Lumia 800 smartphones, with various enhancements included inside. 

The new update provides longer battery life for the mobile phone, along with better voice quality through a series of improvements brought to the bass in the audio. 

Following the update, Nokia Lumia 800 owners will also observe that the soft keys illuminate at all brightness levels settings. 

Users who haven’t got the chance to update their Lumia 800 smartphones before (this is the third update for the device) can now learn how to do that. 

The process is very simple, though it involves connecting the device to a Windows PC or a Mac. The update can be performed only through the Zune software on Windows or via the Windows Phone Companion on Macs. 

Before proceeding with the update, Lumia 800 owners should make sure that their device is properly charged, and that they backed-up all data on it. Moreover, they should also ensure that there is enough hard disk space on the PC to properly backup the files on their devices

To get started, users will need to fire up Zune, configure the app's settings (including info such as phone’s name), and let the software search for any available updates. 

If new firmware is available, they will have to hit the Update Now button, and Zune will begin downloading and installing the software. 

As soon as the update is completed, Lumia 800 owners should hit the Finish button on the application, and then unplug the phone from the PC. If the app closes before the update is completed, they will simply have to launch the app again. 

Users can also manually check to see whether the update is available for their devices through going to Settings then Phone on Zune, and then hitting the Update button. 

The application will search for any available new firmware for the mobile phone and will prompt the phone's owners to upgrade if one appears. 

For a better understanding of how the update process works, you should have a look at the video embedded below.

Script: wpsc Support Tickets

If running a WordPress site and your users are constantly sending support emails, then it's the right time to add a ticketing system to your website.

There's currently a WordPress plugin for that, specifically developed to handle support tickets in the simplest way possible.

Developed by the same team that created wpStoreCart, the wpsc Support Tickets plugin comes with a frontend for users (and guests if necessary), to submit their problems / questions and a backend for admins to answer, manage and close those tickets.

wpsc Support Tickets also sends email notifications when email tickets are received and fixed, so users are kept in the loop every time new details are added to their ticket.

Of course, the plugin is available in the WordPress plugin repository as well.

Download wpsc Support Tickets here.

Windows 8 on New and Old Touch Hardware

This fall, Microsoft will launch the final flavor of its Windows 8 platform, with support for both existing PCs, as well as for new PCs, which will, obviously, pack new hardware. 

One of the main changes when compared to the previous Windows releases is the fact that Windows 8 will be optimized for use on touch-enabled devices. 

For that, Microsoft announced a set of touch interactions designed to make up the Windows 8 touch language, and which should be adopted by application developers as well. 

“These core interactions form the basis of the Windows 8 user interface, and are reused heavily in the application frameworks within our common controls and samples,” a blog post from Jerry Koh, group program manager, and Jeff Piira, test manager, Human Interaction Platform, Microsoft, explains. 

“The primary goal of our touch language is to promote ease-of-use and ensure user confidence. By confidence, we mean that all touch interactions work consistently and reliably all the time.”

Through this language, Microsoft is coming up with a base user experience optimized for touch, but which works well on other PCs as well. It will fit devices built for Windows 8 as well, Microsoft notes. 

Windows 8 PCs will sport digitizers that support a minimum of 5 fingers, though fundamental gestures require only 2 fingers (which imposed limitations).

“So, while we ensure that the OS works well with a Windows 7 PC, a new Windows 8 PC is going to be much more consistent and predictable both from a user and developer perspective,” the blog post explains.

The new UI in Windows 8 also comes with impact on hardware design, making new devices more capable than those build for the older Windows 7 OS. 

For example, Windows 8 places a great emphasis on the edges of the screen, while previous OSes focused on the center of the screen. The Windows 8 user experience is based on the edge swipe, and all those who gave the OS a try know that. 

One of the challenges was to trigger the edge swipe without taking any pixels from applications. On Windows 7 PCs, however, things are a bit different. They had to chop a bit from applications

“In order to make edge swipe work consistently on Windows 7 PCs, we created a mode where there is a 20-pixel buffer to catch the edge swipe gesture. This allows a majority of PCs to reliably invoke the charms and use Windows 8 effectively,” Microsoft explains. 

The Redmond-based software giant has been working with its partners for reducing hardware variability and establishing consistent Windows 8 requirements.

“We have published our requirements for new Windows 8 hardware, and we continue to work with touch hardware partners, suppliers, independent hardware vendors, and PC manufacturers to ensure that new devices meet the requirements,” the said blog post notes. 

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