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Jul 31, 2012

Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7750 Slim Low-Profile Video Card

AMD video card manufacturing partner Sapphire has just announced a new video card powered by AMD’s Radeon HD 7750 GPU. The new card features a single slot cooling system and a low-profile PCB that is perfectly suited for cramped cases.

The new device completely adheres to AMD’s reference specifications of the Radeon HD 7750 GPU so the AMD’s “Cape Verde” graphics processing unit is clocked at 800 MHz when working in full load 3D mode. In 2D mode, the frequency of the GPU will drop to a low 300 MHz. The GPU has a very small 123-square millimeter die size, containing 1.5 billion transistors containing 512 unified shader processors, 32 texturing units and 16 ROPs. The “full” “Cape Verde” comes with 640 shaders and 40 texturing units, but that’s the Radeon HD 7770 and Sapphire’s version has some of the units inactive. The GPU is quite modest in its power requirements, and the Sapphire HD 7750 LP features a very simple cooling system yet quite prone to failure (because of the higher rotation speed) and likely noisy after some months of wear.

The Sapphire HD 7750 LP comes with 1024 MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 4500 MHz default when in 3D mode, but it drops to 600 MHz when working in 2D. The memory and the GPU work on a tight 128-bit BUS, so playing games with very high resolutions will be quite a challenge for the small card. The pricing is slated at 90 to 100 EUR for European HTPC enthusiasts and $100 in the US, Fudzilla reported.

Sapphire HD 7750 LP Video Card
Image credits to Fudzilla

HighPoint RocketRAID 4520 SAS RAID Controller 512 MB DDR3

California headquartered traditional RAID controller maker HighPoint has just launched a new, dedicated SAS RAID controller card using Marvell’s Sheeva RAID-on-Chip onboard processor, on its official website.

The new card uses a Marvell 88RC9580 RAID-on-Chip processor that has a 513 MB of DDR3 decicated memory. The new RAID card from HighPoint uses a PCI Express 2.0 x8 Host Interface and provides the user with 8 Internal 6Gb/s SAS & SATA ports and dual internal Mini-SAS connectors (SFF-8087). The card will support up to 128 SAS HDDs using a SAS Expander, but it comes with a passive heatsink and a low-profile PCB. HighPoint’s new RocketRAID 4520 adapter comes with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and the usual JBOD with RAID configuration protection.

The usual BIOS boot, staggered drive spin up, spin down idle disk, S.M.A.R.T. and NCQ support are all present and also the HighPoint RocketRAID 4520 comes with 64bit LBA support for drives with more than 2TB of storage capacity. Marvell’s Sheeva RAID-on-chip processor is a powerful SoC that integrates an ARM core working at a high 900 Mhz frequency along with RAID 5/6 and CRC32 engines, internal SRAM and DDR3 memory interfaces optimized for advanced RAID topologies. The chip only consumes 9 watts according to Marvell and comes in a 676-Ball FCBGA package.

The on-core cache is 512 KB and there is also an on-chip 1 MB Scratchpad. It has support for various advanced RAID features including Dual XOR RAID 6, P+ Q + Copy, or Q + Q + Q RAID 6, and is ideal for mid-range to high-end servers. The processor also provides support for RAID 60 although HighPoint doesn’t mention this in its press release.

HighPoint RocketRAID 4520 SAS RAID Controller with 512 MB DDR3 Memory
Image credits to HighPoint

Marvell 88RC9580 RAID-on-Chip processor diagram
Image credits to Marvell

Samsung Galaxy S IV Concept Phone

Samsung’s Galaxy S line of devices is already the most popular smartphone series in the world, and the latest addition to the lineup is doing a great job at attracting even more users to it.

However, although Galaxy S III is here and is said to be the best smartphone of the year, enthusiasts already dream of what the next handset in the series would have to offer to them. Supposedly dubbed Galaxy S IV, the smartphone would be better, would deliver increased performance levels, and would also prove far more appealing than the current-generation Galaxy S. Whether Samsung will indeed launch such a device or not is yet unknown, but we cannot imagine why it wouldn’t. After all, the success Galaxy S devices enjoyed helped the company become the leading smartphone vendor in the world. Bob Freking has his own idea of what Galaxy S IV could offer in terms of hardware, software and outer design, and came up with a concept device to show that to the world.

Rocking a large 5-inch touchscreen display capable of delivering a 1920 x 1080 resolution, the handset would easily prove to be the phone every user wants. It would be powered by an Exynos 5 ARM15 dual-core application processor, faster than the dual-core inside Galaxy S III, and would be only 9.3mm thin. On the back, Galaxy S IV could easily sport a 12-megapixel photo snapper, with full HD video recording, complemented by a 3.2MP camera on the front for making video calls. With a polycarbonate unibody design, the handset would feature a 2,500mAh battery inside, while running under Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean platform, with the TouchWiz UX loaded on top of it.

The same as Galaxy S III, the upcoming handset would sport a great deal of appealing software features, along with all the connectivity capabilities that users are looking for. For the time being, Galaxy S IV is only a concept device, but it could easily become a real handset, with great benefits for both users and the mobile phone maker.

Samsung Galaxy S IV concept phone
Images credits to Bob Freking

Leadtek WinFast GTX 680 Has 4 GB Memory

Not about to let Micro-Star International get all the attention for its 4 GB NVIDIA video card, Leadtek has released a device that follows a similar concept, but only so far.

Truth be told, the only things that Leadtek's product and NVIDIA's own 4 GB GTX 680 have in common is the amount of memory and, in the case of the latter's Non-OC version, the clock speeds as well. Other than that, Leadtek's WinFast GTX 680 4 GB is designed quite a bit differently, as it actually sticks to the reference design of NVIDIA's normal, 2 GB board. Where MSI applied a custom cooler and special components (solid capacitors for example), Leadtek retained the reference fansink and the printed circuit board. The 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, clocked at 6,008 MHz, are distributed among sixteen chips. The interface is 256-bit wide. Meanwhile, the GK104 graphics processing unit, for those who have forgotten NVIDIA's default settings, operates at 1,006 MHz.

Naturally, the GPU Boost Technology is present and accounted for as well, which means that the speed can be pushed to 1,058 MHz automatically, when needed. Furthermore, for connectivity to any sort of monitor or HDTV, or more of them at once, the company retained the two DVI ports, HDMI and DisplayPort. As for power, Leadtek's WinFast GTX 680 4 GB runs on the energy provided by two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors. Shipments will begin in August, according to Hermitage Akihabara, for 59,800 JPY, or $765 / 622.85 Euro. That's a fairly high number, all things considered. Then again, exchange rates don't usually have any bearing on product prices, so it's more likely that the US price will be $569 (like that of the Zotac GTX 680 4GB) and the EU tag of 580-600 Euro (like the Palit Jetstream).

Leadtek WinFast GTX 680 4GB
Image credits to Hermitage Akihabara

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Specifications and Launch Date

Nvidia is doing quite a good job at salvaging the partially dysfunctional Kepler GPUs, but for the mid- to low-end markets such a chip is not quite fitting. Therefore, the company is preparing to launch the rumored GK107 GPU that will power the more affordable graphics adapters.

The GeForce GTX 650 reference design will be powered by the new GK107 Kepler-based design from Nvidia, donanimhaber reports. The new card will pack 384 CUDA cores and will have to work with a tight 128-bit memory BUS.

Unlike Nvidia’s GT 640 video cards, the GTX 650 will come with fast GDDR5 memory, but if this report is true, budget gamers will be quite disappointed to see that GTX 650 is very similar, if not the same, with a GT 640 with GDDR5 VRAM. The rumored launch date is September 17, which is quite a bit later than many would have expected.

Possible Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Video Card
Image credits to DonanimHaber

Sony Xperia Tablet SGPT1211

Electronics giant, Japanese company Sony has eventually decided not to miss on the huge opportunity that the tablet market offers. As the initial Tablet S became obsolete and did not achieve great sales, the company is now preparing for Tablet S’ successor.

The new Android-based tablet from Sony will be called Xperia and will feature the same 9.4” screen with a 1280x800 pixel resolution. Despite the fact that the new model keeps the same folded-paper profile that Tablet S did, Sony claims that Xperia is 42% thinner. The complete name of the new device is reportedly Sony Xperia Tablet SGPT1211 and it comes with three storage capacities: 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. The battery is said to be rated at 6000 mAh and the company claims that this is enough for about 10 hours of internet browsing using the WirelessN integrated adapter. Sony is not wasting any opportunity to profit from the PlayStation brand image, so the Xperia tablet will also feature the popular logo representing the fact that it comes with a certain level of compatibility with the popular console and some of its accessories.

Connectivity is well-endowed, as Xperia comes complete with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 optional 3G, an SD card slot and the usual HD audio jack. GPS capability is also included, but there’s a chance that the type of GPS will differ from 3G models that will come with A-GPS and Wi-Fi models that will have S-GPS. Some specific accessories will also be available at launch such as a Dock Speaker, a Docking Stand, a Cradle, a Simple Stand and a thin keyboard. Pricing is set to start at $450 or €367 and go up if more storage capacity is desired.

Sony Xperia Tablet SGPT1211
Images credits to slashgear

Gigabyte Ultra Durable 5 Motherboard Pushes 2,000 W Through CPU Socket

Gigabyte, like other motherboard and graphics card makers, has a technique that grants its platforms a higher endurance and stability. It so happens that the latest incarnation of that technique has arrived.

Dubbed Ultra Durable 5, the motherboard design has been demonstrated on video for the benefit of prospective overclockers. If we're reading things right, Gigabyte took two 1,200 W power suppliers, wired the Z77X-UP7 motherboard to three DC load testers and subjected the CPU socket to 2,000W.

The energy is enough to run 25 Core i7-3770K central processing units and was delivered through 32 phases of power regulation. If you have five minutes to spare, watch the video above for more details. Even if this maximum power delivery is high enough to be impractical, it's still quite the feat.

Cool Power Inside and Out
The GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 motherboard delivers some serious amount of power through its 32 CPU phases. Featuring the new GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 technology with high current capable components including 60A rated PowIRstages® from IR, the Z77X-UP7 is able to deliver an astonishing 2,000W of power delivery.
Video credits to MoboTV2010

Gigabyte SuperClock WindForce5x HD 7970 Tested

We have been waiting for news about Gigabyte’s SOC Edition of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 for a long time. The card has been finally tested and it is likely the fastest single-GPU video card in the world.

The card is officially called Gigabyte HD 7970 Super Overclock, but the naming scheme might be change once it is officially launched. The special and most original cooling design has already been described in detail here. There was fear that the card would be loud, but the reality is that the WindForce5x cooling system is even quieter than other designs, and only when over-volting the card do the fans get considerably louder. There is one clear advantage to this design, as this is the ideal way to cool the cards when working into a CrossFire setup. The card tested by the hardware experts at techpowerup.com is not the final version, but we were actually surprised to see that the whole design was not using any of the “GHz Edition” features and improvements.

The GPU is actually clocked higher than AMD’s reference Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and works at 1080 MHz, but the memory is only set to work at 1375 MHz, and that’s 5.5 GHz effective instead of the 6 GHz that the GHz Edition has. Even so, the card manages to beat most of its opponents, only staying behind the dual-GPU cards like Nvidia’s GTX 690 and AMD’s own Radeon HD 6990. Considering that AMD’s cards are able to run in 5760 x 1080 high resolution while Nvidia’s graphics adapters are incapable of such a feat, we can safely say that Gigabyte’s AMD Radeon HD 7970 SuperOverclock is the fastest single-GPU video card in the world. We’re hoping to see a “GHz Edition” setup on the final version with 1500 Mhz memory and finer GPU frequency adjustments, but, even so, the card is impressive. Head over to techpowerup to check out their tests.

Gigabyte WindForce 5X HD 7970 Super Overclock
Images credits to TechPowerUp

ASUS Windows 8 Tablet 810 Got FCC Approval

A certain tablet that ASUS revealed during Computex 2012 has made its way to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

We are referring to the Tablet 810. While the Tablet 600 passed through the FCC a couple of days ago, 810 has only now received its stamp. The filing only confirms the Wi-Fi-only wireless support and NFC (near-field communication) for peripheral use.

That doesn't mean there aren't other sources for details on the 11.6-inch device though. After all, we got a good close look at the Windows 8 gadget back in June (see the link above), and ASUS itself has a nice intro page here. The bottom line is that ASUS Tablet 810 (TF810C) is an 11.6-inch slate with Intel Atom Medfield CPU, 8 MP back camera, SyncMaster technology, Wacom digitizer stylus and a SuperIPS+ screen.

ASUS Tablet 810
Image credits to ASUS

ASUS Tablet 810
Image credits to ASUS

ASUS Tablet 810
Image credits to FCC

RIM Send Home 3,000 More Employees This August

Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is struggling to regain its foothold on the smartphone market, but it seems that it still faces great challenges. RIM to give the pink slip to more employees this coming month.

According to the latest rumors on the matter, the company is about to send home 3,000 more employees in the next two weeks. To be more precise, Cantech Letter claims that sources familiar with the matter unveiled that RIM would kick off a new wave of layoffs on August 13th. RIM has previously announced that it would give the pink slip to around 5,000 of its employees, and 2,000 of them have already been sent home. The remaining of the 3,000 planned job cuts will occur on August 13 and should end before the second quarter of the company’s fiscal year ends on August 31. The mobile phone maker did not make an official announcement on the matter, but its latest financial results were not encouraging at all.

In fact, the company announced one of its worst financial performances for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2013 several weeks ago. RIM posted net loss of USD$518 million, or $0.99 cents per share. However, it appears that there’s not only the increasingly competitive market environment in the smartphone segment to blame for this state of facts, but also the upcoming release of BlackBerry 10. As it usually happens before a major platform upgrade, sales of older devices are dropping, as users wait for the new OS and for the handsets powered by it. The upcoming BlackBerry 10 could indeed turn the odds in RIM’s favor when it becomes commercially available on new smartphones in the first three months of the next year.

RIM was initially expected to announce the platform this year, but the company said not too long ago that it would delay its release, so as to make sure that it has all things put in place for the general availability.

Research In Motion logo
Image credits to RIM

MSI 4 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 Twin Frozr Video Cards

Well-known motherboard and notebook manufacturer, Taiwanese company MSI has just introduced two new GTX 680 video cards on its official website. The new models feature Nvidia’s Kepler GPU and double the usual memory quantity.

Therefore, MSI’s new graphics adapters will be able to run high-quality games in very high resolutions with higher frame rates. The new cards use MSI’s popular Twin Frozr cooling system that comes with five heatpipes, out of which two are 8-millimeter wide, which brings much better cooling performance. The heatsink is cooled by two 80-millimeter fans that have a special propeller design claimed to offer better airflow and lower noise. The cards are called MSI N680GTX Twin Frozr 4GD5/OC and MSI N680GTX Twin Frozr 4GD5. Both use solid capacitors, but the OC model has the GPU clock raised to 1058 MHz with a 1124 MHz boost, while the rest of the clocks remain the same as on the reference design from Nvidia.

The non-OC version works at the usual reference 1006 Mhz with the 1058 MHz boost. The memory is clocked the same on both cards, at 6008 MHz effective. The 4 GB of GDDR5 memory works through a 256-bit BUS and both cards come with the same back panel outputs. The output connectors are a Dual-link DVI-I port, a Dual-link DVI-D connector, a DisplayPort and a HDMI connector. The cooling fans are controlled by PWM and the company claims that the noise generation is 10.2 dB lower when compared with the reference design. Considering that the reference design is not exactly what we’d call quiet, we would have like to see MSI use 90-millimeter fans rotating at lower speeds.

MSI N680GTX Twin Frozr 4GD5/OC
Images credits to MSI

Samsung P10 Tablet with 11.8-Inch, 2560 x 1600 Resolution Screen

The patent war between Samsung and Apple has begun to reveal things neither party wants, such as future products. In this instance, Samsung is the one whose secrets are being exposed for all to see.

According to one of the documents that the court forced Samsung to reveal, the company will release a high-resolution slate this year. In fact, the resolution is so high that it exceeds the quality of the so-called Retina display features in the latest iPad. Whereas Apple's device has a 2048 x 1536 panel, Samsung's slate will boast a screen with 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (16:10 aspect ratio). It is truly curious that the native resolution on portable, handheld devices is advancing so much faster than the resolution of HDTVs and monitors. At any rate, Samsung's consumer electronics gadget is currently known by the P10 moniker and will have one extra perk: LTE connectivity, TheVerge reports. All things considered, Samsung has everything it needs to go forward on the slate market, even if the jury eventually rules in its disfavor.

The decisions regarding Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 7.7 won't have any bearing on this new item after all. At worst, Samsung will have to sort out some patent licensing deals, if any, maybe pay some fines, but the P10, or whatever its name will be, will have free reign. What remains is for the design to be “different” enough from that of the iPad, in as much as the standard tablet shape (which Apple was somehow allowed to patent) allows for such a thing. We don't know when Samsung will officially reveal the product. Perhaps IFA 2012 will bring some revelations, or some reports if nothing else. If not, the holiday season is when we think the 11.6-inch slate will begin selling. In the meantime, we'll keep our eyes and ears peeled for future Apple's items. Since it was ordered to bring some of its own documents to court, there's a good chance we'll et a glimpse of its future too.

Samsung Diaplay logo
Image credits to Samsung

Samsung Display (Tablet Roadmap)
Image credits to TheVerge

Jul 30, 2012

Genius SP-900BT Wireless Bluetooth Audio Speakers, True Wireless Speakers Officially Available

Well-known PC multimedia, peripherals and accessories company Genius has just announced a new set of wireless speakers that are really true to the definition of the “wireless” concept. The new gadgets come with integrated rechargeable batteries that will power the speaker.

Genius’ new speakers have an output power of just 2 watts and impedance of 4 Ohms. The audio signal will be transmitted using Bluetooth 3.0 and the 700 mAh battery will be able to power the speakers for up to ten whole hours. The lithium-ion integrated battery can be charged using a simple USB cable. Here are the official specifications for the Genius SP-900BT wireless speakers:

  • Output Power - 2 watts;
  • Impedance - 4 ohms ± 10%;
  • Frequency range - 200-20 000 Hz;
  • Battery capacity - 700 mAh;
  • Communication range - 10 m (32 feet);
  • Data transmission - Bluetooth 3.0;
  • Battery charging time - three hours;
  • Weight - 180 g (0.39 pounds);

Pricing is listed online in Spain at $33 and that’s 27 EUR for the European buyers. Surprisingly, this is a 34% lower price than the initial estimations.

Genius SP-900BT Wireless Bluetooth Audio Speakers
Images credits to Genius

Thomson X-View 2: Dual-SIM, 5.3-Inch Display with Android ICS

It’s not every day that we learn about companies that enter the smartphone market. Thomson, manufacturer of modems and specific infrastructure, has decided to launch its first handset, the X-View 2.

This is a bold move coming from a company that has no experience in this domain whatsoever. Even though the newly announced device may seem appealing at first glance, it does come with a pretty awkward combination of features. For example, the X-View 2 boasts a huge 5.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display, which only supports 480 x 800 pixels resolution. We would have expected Thomson to include a higher quality screen for their first smartphone. When it comes to hardware, the X View 2 is clearly not aimed at the high-end smartphone market. The device is equipped with a MT6570 chipset that packs a 1 GHz processor, probably single core. The CPU is complemented by an Adreno 220 graphics processor unit and 512MB of RAM. There’s also 1 GB of ROM inside, along with microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB). The phone features a slim (10.9mm) design for its size (150 x 81mm), but it’s pretty heavy (212g, battery included). Samsung Galaxy Note which sports a similar 5.3-inch display only weighs 178g (battery included).

Anyway, the good news is that the X-View 2 is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, though it’s highly unlikely to see this one being upgraded to Jelly Bean in the future. Furthermore, Thomson’s first Android smartphone features dual-SIM capabilities and a 2450 mAh Li-Ion battery, which has yet to be rated by the manufacturer. Last but not least, the X-View 2 packs a 5-megapixel main camera on the back, which features LED flash, autofocus and video recording. No word on the availability of a secondary front-facing camera for video calls yet. via Fudzilla.

Thomson X-View 2
Image credits to Fudzilla

Counters App Call Management for Nokia Lumia Phones

A new application is now available for download for the owners of a Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia device, namely Counters.

Released with support for Lumia 610, Lumia 710, Lumia 800, and Lumia 900, the new application was meant to provide owners with the option to easily manage their calls, messaging and data use each month. Moreover, the new software comes with a simple and friendly design, allowing people not only to see how intensively they use the phone, but also to reset the counters on their monthly billing dates. With the new application, users will be able to easily set usage limits for their calls, messaging, and mobile data. Moreover, they will have the option to see who the top contacts they interact with are, and to change the start of the counting period as they please.

However, the development team behind this Windows Phone application also notes that there are some limitations that people should take into consideration when choosing to download and install it. Among these, we can count:

  • Counters app requires particular phone software. You can check operating system version in Settings>about>more information>"OS version." You should have either 8773 or 8779 in the string. Check for updates here.
  • there are no notifications when set limit is achieved (will come later)
  • conference calls are not counted properly
  • not possible to set data limit counter with a fractional part (i.e. not possible to set 1.5GB limit)

Even with these limitations inside, the software might still sound like a great option for many. They can head over to the Nokia Beta Labs to download the application today. Those reading this post on their Lumia phones can download the app directly from this link. The Counters development team also encourages them to provide feedback on their experience with the application, so that new features and enhancements could be added into the mix.

Counters app for Nokia Lumia devices
Image credits to Nokia Beta Labs

Yeston Powerful Custom Designed AMD Radeon HD 7750 Video Card

Less-known video card company called Yeston has just launched a custom designed AMD Radeon HD 7750 video card, but there is something very strange regarding the new product. The PCB is really short, which makes us think this is built for small cases, but the cooling system is quite large and occupies two adjacent slots.

The new card is powered by AMD’s “Cape Verde” graphics processing unit that comes with a very small 123-square millimeter die size, containing 1.5 billion transistors. The default GPU speed is 800 MHz when working in full load 3D mode. In 2D mode, the frequency of the GPU will drop to a low 300 MHz. The 1024 MB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at 4500 MHz default when in 3D mode, but it drops to 600 MHz when working in 2D. The memory and the GPU work on a tight 128-bit BUS, so playing games with very high resolutions will be a little less rewarding. The “Cape Verde” GPU is part of AMD’s GCN architecture and comes with much improved GPU compute performance.

This Radeon HD 7750 GPU has 512 unified shader processors, 32 texturing units and 16 ROPs, while the “full” “Cape Verde” comes with 640 shaders and 40 texturing units. The GPU is quite modest in its power requirements, and the HD 7750 mounted on Yeston’s new card clearly needs less energy than a “full” “Cape Verde” on a Radeon HD 7770 Ghz Edition video card. Usually, the HD 7750 doesn’t come with an extra power connector, but Yeston has decided to fit the new card with one. The cooling system has just two heatpipes and a rather large cooling fan that seems to have a 90-millimeter diameter and eleven blades.

The manufacturer only used solid capacitors on its new card, and the 4-phase VRM is completely covered with aluminum heatsinks. Considering that the GPU is clocked at 950 MHz instead of the reference default of 800 Mhz and the memory comes at 5 GHz instead of the usual 4.5 Ghz, we understand the necessity for the large cooling system, Expreview reports. There is no information on pricing available yet.

Yeston Pre-Overclocked AMD Radeon HD 7750 Custom Video Card 950/5000
Images credits to Expreview

Microsoft Surface for Windows RT Confirmed for October 26th

Microsoft’s Windows RT-based Surface tablet PC is expected to arrive on shelves on October 26th, the same day when the Windows 8 operating system becomes available for purchase.

Of course, Microsoft has said before that the new slate is meant to hit shelves the very same day as Windows 8, but that was the only mention it made regarding the product’s availability. However, it appears that official confirmation that October 26th will mark the commercial launch of Microsoft’s Surface for Windows RT has already emerged. Paul Thurrott of WinSupersite notes that Microsoft did mention the release date in a filing with the US Security and Exchange Commission. "The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012,” the filing reportedly reads. “At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices.”

For those out of the loop, we should note that Microsoft also announced that only the Windows RT-based Surface slate would hit shelves this year. The second model, running under Windows 8 Pro, is expected to land on shelves three months after the ARM-powered device – which would be late January 2013. The Windows RT iteration of Microsoft Surface will be launched in two different flavors, one with 32GB of internal memory, and another with 64GB of built-in storage space. The Windows 8 Pro variant, which packs an Intel processor inside, will be released with 64GB and 128GB of internal memory, respectively. The Surface tablets will also sport a highly appealing design, featuring a thin body and being accompanied by special keyboards from Microsoft, which also act as screen covers.

For the time being, Microsoft hasn’t made an official announcement on the price tag these tablets will sport. However, it did say that the cost would be in line with today’s tablets – for the ARM version – and ultrabooks – for the Intel model.

Microsoft Surface
Image credits to Microsoft

Two New Intel 7-Series Motherboards for Q3 Release

Intel really likes to name its products weird things, so we are only half-bemused by the names of the two 7-Series, socket LGA 1155 motherboards that VR-Zone unearthed.

Intel already has a number of 7-Series motherboards out. The line was launched all the way back in March after all (2012). The ones we are looking at here are based on the Z77 chipset, making them qualify as high-end desktop platforms. The one bearing the name "Gasper Light" is really called Extreme Series DZ77GAL-70K and will start shipping this quarter (Q3 2012). Overall, it has the same specifications as the DZ77GA-70K, detailed in full here. The only real difference is that the Gasper Light doesn't come with a WiDi-capable WLAN add-on card, an antenna kit, 3.5-inch USB 3.0 front-panel port kit, the Extreme Series mouse pad and the Bluetooth dongle.

The second product, Media Series DZ75ML-45K "Middle Lake," will start shipping at the same time as its sibling. It has a PCB identical to that of the DZ77SL-50K and DH77KC, but no Intel Smart Response technology, so SSD caching doesn't work on it (the Z75 chipset doesn't support it). DZ77GAL-70K should sell for around $170 / 138.80 Euro, since it is essentially the DZ77GA-70K without the extras. As for the DZ75ML-45K, it will ship for about the same sum as the DH77KC: $110 / 90 Euro, give or take. Finally, due to the period when the mainboards become available, they will have BIOS versions ready to tackle Microsoft's Windows 8 OS.

On looking over the current product lineup and roadmap, we suppose Intel is doing its best to cover as much of the motherboard customer base as possible before the arrival of the new operating system. That way it can partially make up for the disadvantage of having so many established motherboard brands to compete against.

Intel DZ77GAL-70K
Image credits to VR-Zone

Intel DZ75ML-45K
Image credits to VR-Zone

Samsung Galaxy S DUOS Photo and Full Specs

With Galaxy S III out of the way, Samsung can focus on future Android devices. In this regard, the company has already confirmed it will launch a new Galaxy device on August 15.

According to the latest hearsay, Samsung plans to announce a sequel to the highly acclaimed Galaxy Note. The new smartphone is expected to come with improved hardware and a slightly larger 5.5-inch display. However, until the South Korean company decides to go live with the Galaxy Note 2, we have another device to talk about. The folks over at GSMArena have just published the photo of an unannounced Samsung Galaxy S DUOS, which will probably be launched in the following weeks. The device strongly resembles Samsung’s Android flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, but features a slightly modified Home button. Furthermore, the phone is much smaller than the Galaxy S III and sports a 4.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display with support for 480 x 800 pixels resolution. The Galaxy S DUOS measures 121.5 x 63.1 x 10.5 mm and weighs only 120g (battery included).

As expected, the smartphone runs Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, though the 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM7227A Snapdragon single-core processor included inside makes it a bit underpowered. The phone’s CPU is complemented by an obsolete Adreno 200 graphics processing unit and 512MB of RAM. There’s also 4GB of storage which can be further expanded up to 32GB via microSD memory card. On the back, the Galaxy S DUOS is said to pack a 5-megapixel photo snapper with autofocus, LED flash and video recording, while on the front there’s a secondary VGA camera for video calls. As the name suggests, Samsung Galaxy S DUOS comes with dual-SIM connectivity, but also offers 3G and Bluetooth support, along with Wi-Fi and GPS. Last but not least, the smartphone is powered by a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery, which has yet to be rated by the manufacturer.

Samsung Galaxy S DUOS
Image credits to GSMArena

RIM 10’’ BlackBerry PlayBook Emerge

Next year, Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is expected to unveil to the world a new, bigger flavor of its PlayBook tablet PC.

Packing a 10-inch touchscreen display, the device can be seen in the allegedly leaked photos that emerged over at Tinhte. Overall, the upcoming 10-inch tablet PC appears to sport the same looks as the smaller 7-inch slate, though it would pack some hardware modifications inside, it appears.

The news site claims that it will have a 7,250 mAh battery inside, along with 4G connectivity (3G HSPA+ should also be included inside), and a SIM slot to go with wireless networks. RIM is also expected to launch a 4G flavor of the 7-inch PlayBook in the coming months, but the 10-inch device might not become official until the first quarter of the next year, rumor has it.

RIM 10’’ BlackBerry PlayBook
Images credits to Tinhte.vn

Microsoft Windows 8-Optimized Mice and Keyboards

With Windows 8’s official release drawing near each day, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft started to announce new devices specifically designed for the platform.

Today, the company made a first step on this road, with the launch of new mice and keyboards that have been specifically designed to fit the new operating system. The first of these is the Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse, which features a compact, artful and minimalist design, BlueTrack Technology, a Backpack Mode that puts it to sleep, and an estimated retail price of around US$69.95. The mouse is accompanied by the slim Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard, specifically designed to fit the needs of tablet users. It comes with hot keys and media keys, as well as with a lightweight design, but features a durable cover which also functions as an on / off switch. It can be connected to tablets via Bluetooth and comes with an estimated retail price of US$79.95.

Next, there is the Sculpt Touch Mouse, with a four-way touch scroll strip, Bluetooth technology packed inside, and a price of around US$49.95. The Sculpt Mobile Keyboard that accompanies it also features Bluetooth connectivity, the same design as Microsoft’s Comfort Curve, battery-saving technology inside, and a suggested price of US$49.95. Additionally, the Redmond-based software giant notes that its Microsoft Touch Mouse is getting updated functionality aimed specifically at the upcoming Windows 8 platform. At around US$79.95, the mouse will make it easily for users to navigate in Windows 8:

  • One-finger swipes allow customers to move naturally and intuitively side to side or up and down, shifting content on screen.
  • Two-finger movements manage apps, switch through open apps and show app commands.
  • Three fingers allow customers to zoom in and out.
  • Thumb gestures navigate backward and forward within apps.

As stated above, all these products have been optimized for use on the upcoming Windows 8 platform. Thus, they come with Bluetooth connectivity, BlueTrack Technology (for use on almost all surfaces), and other specific functionality. Offering a great experience regardless of user’s lifestyle, the new hardware can be used with all sorts of Windows 8 devices, including desktops, laptops and tablet PCs. “Our new mice and keyboards really light up Windows, providing fast and fluid navigation, increased productivity, and enhanced mobility packaged in sleek, stylish designs,” said Brett Kelleran, general manager, Microsoft Hardware. “Microsoft Hardware is designed by Microsoft, optimized for Windows.”

“Starting July 30th, you will be able to pre-order the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, Wedge Touch Mouse, Sculpt Mobile Keyboard and Sculpt Touch Mouse on Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, TigerDirect, and Buy.com,” Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc announced.

Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard
Image credits to Microsoft

Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse
Image credits to Microsoft

Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Keyboard
Image credits to Microsoft

Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse
Image credits to Microsoft

Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse
Image credits to Microsoft

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