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Jan 9, 2012

CES 2012: Sony Unveils Xperia S with PlayStation Certification and 12MP Camera

Shortly after introducing the AT&T-bound Xperia ion, Sony is back with yet another Android-based smartphone, the Xperia S. Although the Japanese handset maker did not reveal the exact release date of the phone, Xperia S is expected to hit shelves in Q1 2012.

The phone will be available in both black and white color schemes in select markets. The Xperia S price tag will be announced closer to the launch date.

Sony Xperia S will be delivered with Android 2.3 Gingerbread at launch but an Ice Cream Sandwich update will be pushed soon after. According to Sony, the Android 4.0 for Xperia S will be deployed in Q2 2012.

Furthermore, the Xperia S features PlayStation certification and Near Field Communications (NFC) support that allows users to pair other compatible device and read NFC tags with a single tap.

Just like the AT&T Xperia ion, the Xperia S is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, but sports a slightly smaller 4.3-inch capacitive display with 720 x 1280 pixels resolution, which is based on Sony's Reality Display technology.

Another strong point of the smartphone is the impressive 12-megapixel rear camera with Exmor R backlit sensor, which features LED flash, autofocus and full HD (1080p) video recording. There's also a secondary 1.3-megapixel camera for self-portraits and high-quality video calls.

Sony Xperia S measures 128 x 64x 10.6mm and weighs 144g (battery included). It also packs a 1,750mAh battery that has yet to be rated by the manufacturer.

No word on the amount of memory, but this one should pack 1GB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB). Xperia S lacks LTE support, and is probably only compatible with microSIM cards.

On a side note, the Xperia S has been leaked long ago, but under a different codename – Sony Ericsson Nozomi.

Garmin Launches “Smartphone Link” App for Android Phones

Garmin has just announced the availability of “Smartphone Link” application for Android devices. The software creates a smooth experience between a compatible Garmin personal navigator and an Android smartphone.

The application is compatible with all Bluetooth enabled 2012 Garmin devices including nüvi 2475LT, 2495LMT, 2595LMT, 3490LMT and 3590LMT. However, Garmin stated that all these nüvi models, except the nüvi 3590LMT, require a software update, which is available here.

With “Smartphone Link” users will be able to communicate and share data obtained from the Garmin personal navigation device (PND) via the Android smartphone. 

In addition, the application allows nüvi users to add live services, including traffic information, traffic camera images, weather and fuel prices. 

“Garmin Smartphone Link solves the problem of having to pay for an extra data plan to use live services on a PND by utilizing the existing connection of a smartphone. It is a great example of how smartphone apps can complement navigation devices, which offer key benefits such as bigger screens and better GPS reception,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales. 

Although the “Smartphone Link” is offered for free in the Android Market, it only includes several free live services, as premium content requires customers to pay a certain yearly fee. 

Among the free connected services offered by “Smartphone Link”, users can take advantage of live weather information and myGarmin messaging.

For Premium Live Services, customers can choose from the following options: Live Traffic ($19.99 per year), photoLive traffic cameras ($9.99 per year), Fuel Prices ($9.99 per year), and Advanced Weather ($4.99 per year).

Aside Garmin Live Services, the application also allows users to share their favorite locations with the phone. 

According to Garmin, the premium version of the personal navigator device is expected to be available in spring 2012.

“Smartphone Link” is now available as a free download via Android Market and is fully compatible with all devices running Android 2.1 and up.

Intel Core i7- 3820 Will Reportedly Launch on February 13

The 13th of February will mark the arrival of Intel’s first and most probably only quad-core processor based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture, the Core i7-3820, according to a recent report published on the Web.

Contrary to its older brothers, the Core i7-3930K and 3960X, Intel’s upcoming quad-core processor is based on a new Sandy Bridge-E die that packs “only” 1.27 billion transistors, compared to the 2.27 billion transistors found in Intel’s six-core parts.

Together with the reduction in transistor count, the chip also has a smaller die that measures 294 square millimeters, making it roughly two thirds the size of the Core i7-3960X and i7-3930K (these chips measure 435mm2).

Moving on to its specs, the four cores installed in Intel’s CPU have a base frequency of 3.6GHz, which can be increased up to 3.9GHz thanks to the Turbo Boost technology, and the chip also includes 10MB of Level 3 cache memory.

Despite the smaller L3 cache, the i7-3820 still retains the integrated quad-channel memory controller of its older brothers, and also sports a built-in 40-lane PCI Express 3.0 controller. 

The TDP of the processor is set at the same 130W as that of the six-core Intel parts, but this time it comes without an unlocked multiplier, so overclocking will be limited.

The suggested retail price is $285, according to Fudzilla, which is definitely much better than the $583 Intel charges for the Core i7-3930K, or the $999 price tag of the i7-3960X, but you also get two less cores.

Until Intel officially launches the i7-3820, you can take a look at the CPU’s performance in two reviews published by Tom’s Hardware and AnandTech. Making a long story short, both of these reviews show the i7-3820 slightly surpassing the Core i7-2600K.

CES 2012: Nokia Lumia 900 Officially Unveiled, Coming Exclusively to AT&T

Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T have finally taken the wraps off the Nokia Lumia 900. The smartphone will be exclusively available via AT&T “in the coming months,” in matte black and cyan.

No word on the pricing yet, but Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop mentioned that the company plans to “enter aggressively” on the North American market, which might indicate that the Finnish handset maker is willing to price its products cheaper than before.

The third Nokia handset to run Windows Phone operating system, Nokia Lumia 900 is the first to comes with LTE support. The smartphone allows data downloads up to 50Mbps on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, or HSPA downloads up to 21Mbps.

Nokia Lumia 900 sports a brilliant 4.3-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution, which is based on Nokia's ClearBlack technology.

The phone boasts an impressive 8-megapixel rear camera with exclusive Carl Zeiss optics that features a large aperture (F2.2) and wide angle focal length (28mm). Furthermore, the smartphone packs a 1-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling.

The phone's high capacity 1830 mAH battery is rated by the manufacturer for up to 300 hours of standby time or up to 7 hours of talk time. 

On the inside, the Lumia 900 is equipped with a 1.4 GHz single core Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8055 processor, as well as 16GB (14GB user available) of internal memory and 512MB of RAM. Additional storage is available via SkyDrive cloud storage.

The Lumia 900 runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Commercial Release 2 (Mango + LTE) and comes pre-installed with several AT&T and Nokia services and apps, such as U-verse Mobile, Nokia Drive, ESPN sports hub, CNN App, and Univision App.

According to Nokia, the device, along with the rest of Lumia series smartphones, will get around 20 EA popular games in the near future.

CES 2012: Canon PowerShot G1-X 14.3MP Camera Makes Its Debut

While most of us were expecting for Canon to unveil a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera at this year’s CES, the company has instead announced a new PowerShot G-series snapper that improves upon the specs of the previous G12.

The most important addition brought by Canon to its new G1 X is the inclusion of a larger CMOS sensor that measures no less than 1.5-inch (18.7 x 14mm) in size.

Sporting a resolution of 14.3MP, this sensor is nearly as big as the APS-C models used in full-size DSLR and some of the best mirrorless cameras around. 

Thanks to this modification, the G1 X should feature better low light performance than the G12, but in case that isn’t enough Canon has also increased the maximum ISO available in the camera to 12,800.

The 4X 28mm f/2.8-16 lens also helps in this regard, and joins a series of other advanced features like 14-bit RAW support and Speedlite flash compatibility, that have been previously reserved for EOS-series cameras.

The rest of the features list includes the usual PASM shooting modes, 1080p video recording, an electronic viewfinder (EVF), a built-in flash, and a rear mounted 3-inch 922k-dot LCD with full tilt and swivel support for taking a look at the images and video captured with the G1 X.

"The new additions to our PowerShot lineup further demonstrate Canon's commitment to delivering users innovative imaging products," said Yuichi Ishizuka executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc.

"These sleek and compact cameras bring together powerful features, intuitive controls and unrivaled portability while maintaining high image quality," concluded the company’s rep.

The estimated selling price of the Canon PowerShot G1 X camera is set at $799.99 (629 EUR) and according to Canon this is scheduled to be available in February of this year.

Fujitsu ARROWS ES IS12F Waterproof Smartphone Available in Japan via KDDI

Shortly after taking Motorola RAZR's crown and becaming the thinnest Android smartphone available on the market, Fujitsu’s new ARROWS ES IS12F smartphone made its debut in Japan and is now available for purchase through KDDI and Okinawa Cellular Telephone. 

Even though the ARROWS ES IS12F incorporates the latest water-resistant technology, the phone is only 6.7mm thick and weighs a mere 105g (battery included), which turns it into one of the world's thinnest smartphones.

According to Fujitsu, the device was built in collaboration with Corning to make it super strong and rigid. In this regard, the smartphone employs Corning Gorilla Glass and a scratch-resistant “Ultra Toughguard” coating, which offers the phone extra-protection against accidental drops.

The ultra-slim phone sports a brilliant 4.0-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display that is said to stand out for high contrast and clarity. The touchscreen supports only 480 x 800 pixels resolution.

Based on Fujitsu's latest high-definition technology for mobile devices, users will be able to enjoy smooth high-res video content.

As for the performance, Fujitsu ARROWS ES IS12F is equipped with a 1.4GHz single core Qualcomm MSM8655 processor.

Given the fact that the smartphone is launched in Japan, it comes with a range of specific features and apps, such as one-segment broadcasts, mobile wallet (Osaifu Keitai), and infrared communications.

It also features top-notch IPX5/8 water-resistant technology, as well as Fujitsu's “original human-centric engine that delivers intuitive ease-of-use.”

There’s also a 5.11 megapixel rear camera that can capture HD (720p) videos, but it looks like the device lacks a secondary camera for video calls.

Fujitsu ARROWS ES IS12F is available in two colors: RUBY RED and GLOSS BLACK. The smartphone should be available at KDDI beginning January 7, but there’s no word on the pricing options yet. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing this one outside Japan, or at least not in the near future.

Ballistix Sport, Tactical and Elite Memory Launched by Crucial

Crucial has already said its piece on the solid-state drive market so it was only a matter of time until it made a move on the RAM segment. 

With the 2012 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012) less than a day away, Crucial formally released its latest batch of memory products. 

They aren't just any kits either, but a trio from the Ballistix line, aimed at gamers and overclockers. 

Ballistix Elite stands at the top, with a capacity of 8 GB and a clock speed of 1,866 MHz. 

The kit's modules support Intel XMP (Xtreme Memory Profile) and come with extruded aluminum heat spreaders, plus black PCBs and integrated thermal sensors. 

Thus, they are meant for users who intend to play with clocks and voltages (and have no financial constraints). 

The Ballistix Memory Overview Display (M.O.D.) utility will make it easy to carry out such procedures (monitors temperatures). 

The second kit is dubbed Ballistix Tactical and has lower latencies than the Ballistix Elite, plus a frequency of (1,600 MHz). 

Finally, the Ballistix Sport, has a frequency of 1,600 MHz and, as above, a capacity of 8 GB, but lower timings and voltages. 

It is aimed at mainstream users and enthusiasts that do put stock on finances. 

“The new Crucial Ballistix 8GB modules enable users to take advantage of award-winning Micron innovations to maximize the installed memory for optimal performance on today’s most advanced systems,” said Jeremy Mortenson, senior product manager, Crucial. 

“Featuring stylish new designs and an updated logo, Crucial now provides its customers eye-catching and reliable memory solutions for performance enthusiasts at every interest level.” 

The announcement doesn't say what price each kit has but states that online stores should already have them for sale. 

Depending on the motherboard one owns, it is possible to install enough of these DDR3 solutions to attain a capacity of 64 GB.

Nikon D4 Available for Pre-Order from J&R, Adorama, Ritz Camera & Jessops

Amazon may have reached its pre-order quota for Nikon’s D4, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t still place a reservation for a D4 of your own.

In fact, no less than three retailers in the US and one in the UK have the upcoming full-frame DSLR up for pre-order.

As Nikon Rumors has tipped us, this list includes J&R, Adorama and Ritz Camera, while those living across the Atlantic can get it from Jessops.

In the US pricing for Nikon’s new creation is set at $5,999.95, while in the UK you would have to get £4799.95 out of your pocket to get one.

These are some impressive price tags indeed, but it seems like that full-frame 16.2MP sensor, 1080p 30fps video recording and the new 91,000 pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Meter III sensor are definitely worth it.

Official Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY Leaks

Although Sony Ericsson was not among the first to officially reveal its plans for Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades, it is certainly among the few who managed to deliver early builds of the operating system for a few of its smartphones.

However, it appears that an XDA forum developer who goes by the name of DooMLoRD has just leaked an official build of the Ice Cream Sandwich for Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY smartphone.

Keep in mind that this is just an early build of ICS and lots of things might not work, but the folks over at XDA Developers are willing to fix some of the issues as they’re discovered by those who flash the ROM.

This ROM was pre-rooted with superuser and busybox and Trebuchet launcher have been installed afterwards.  The following things are not working for the moment and require a fix: camera, stock Launcher does not allow users to add widgets (use Trebuchet launcher instead).

Head over at XDA Developers original thread for more details on this ICS ROM for Xperia PLAY.

RIM Makes BlackBerry 7.1 OS Official

Today, Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion went official with the latest version of its mobile operating system, namely BlackBerry OS 7.1. 

The new platform release is meant to offer increased socialization features to users, so that they benefit from more ways of staying connected with their friends and family while on the go. 

Users will be able to discover new things at ease with the new OS release, while also being able to share them with their contacts. 

Moreover, they will benefit from updated applications, including new versions of BBM, BlackBerry Traffic, and BlackBerry Travel. 

BBM has reached version 6.1 and features BlackBerry Tag integration, enabling users to invite friends to BBM through simply touching NFC enabled BlackBerry smartphones. 

The new version of BlackBerry Travel makes trip planning far easier than before. It makes it more pleasant as well. 

The app will notify users when the flight was delayed or canceled, while helping them find a new flight right away.

As for the new BlackBerry Traffic, it delivers turn-by-turn voice guidance, as well as estimated time of arrival (ETA) based on traffic conditions. 

The new versions of BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel were already made available for download via the BlackBerry App World as well, the mobile phone maker announced. 

The new OS flavor also comes with BlackBerry Maps, offering users the possibility to easily discover special offers, coupons and discounts from nearby vendors. 

RIM has also announced that the new BlackBerry 7.1 OS update will start to arrive on devices around the world today, and that the deployment should be completed in a matter of weeks. 

Some of the main features that the new OS flavor will provide users with include:

Mobile Hotspot: Turn your BlackBerry 7.1 OS device into a Wi-Fi router anywhere, anytime! The new OS seamlessly provides Internet access for up to five Wi-Fi devices, including laptops and tablets.

Universal Search: For this new release, we wanted to focus on the intelligence of our system and our apps – in other words, we wanted to create an intuitive experience that does the thinking for you. For example, Universal Search now has a new auto-suggest feature that that intelligently filters Bing search results to offer you a variety of relevant Web sites based on your search terms.

BlackBerry Tag: Share contacts, media and files, and even invite friends to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) through a simple touch. BlackBerry Tag unlocks near field communication (NFC) capabilities for everyday use and makes sharing a lot faster and much more personal.

Wi-Fi Calling (where available): With BlackBerry 7.1 OS, you’ll be able to make Wi-Fi calls using your carrier’s Wi-Fi calling service (aka UMA-lite or GAN-lite). Wi-Fi calling allows you to save your talk time minutes and make phone calls over any Wi-Fi network. Not all carriers offer such a service so check with your carrier for availability.

FM Radio: The BlackBerry 7.1 OS update will let BlackBerry Curve 9360 and 9380 smartphone customers enjoy FM radio. The Curve models include a built-in FM radio so you can tune in to local FM radio stations. Simply plug in your headset to boost the reception (it acts as the antenna). Plus, no data usage or data plan required!

RIM is displaying all of these enhancements and new applications in BlackBerry OS 7.1 at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Sapphire Finally Launches X79 Pure Black LGA 2011 Motherboard

More than six months after showcasing the X79 Pure Black for the first time, Sapphire has announced the launch of this LGA 2011 motherboard that should soon be available worldwide at an yet undisclosed price point.

Despite the long time that has passed since its first official showing, Sapphire’s creation has suffered a limited amount of modifications.

As a result, its most distinctive feature still remains the inclusion of six PCI Express x16 slots (a mix of Gen 2.5 and Gen 3.0) that are compatible with AMD CrossFireX setups (Nvidia SLI setups are not supported as Sapphire doesn't own such a license). 

Since the PCI Express controller integrated inside the Sandy Bridge-E processors has only 40 PCI-E lanes available, Sapphire had to use a bridge chip for providing such a high count of PCI Express slots.

As far as storage is concerned, the X79 Pure Black provides a total of four SATA 6Gbps ports and four SATA 3Gbps outputs, while two additional SATA ports are routed to the back of the board as eSATA connectors.

These are accompanied by a total of six USB 3.0 ports (4 on the rear panel and two internal), dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors, a Bluetooth transmitter as well as by 8-channel HD audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs.

As is the case with other LGA 2011 motherboards, the Sapphire Pure Black X79 also features a series of other overclocking-oriented features such as a BIOS debug display, a series of DIP switches for disabling each of the six PCIe x16 slots, and on-board Clear CMOS, Power and Reset buttons.

As TechPowerUp reports, the CPU and memory are powered via a multi-channel Digital power management circuitry which can deliver up to 270 Watts.

No info regarding pricing and availability was provided, but we expect the motherboard to reach retailers soon.

Asus Branded Radeon HD 7970 3GB Makes Appearance

Asus couldn’t have been missing from the Radeon HD 7970 launch party, so the Taiwanese hardware maker has recently unveiled its own Tahiti XT creation targeting performance enthusiasts and gamers everywhere.

Asus’ graphics card doesn’t seem to differ in any way from AMD’s reference design for the HD 7970, which was to be expected as graphics chip makers usually force their partners to adopt this design in the first few months after a new high-end GPU is released. 

Despite this, Asus did however opt to bundle the card with its own GPU Tweak software that allows users to change the voltage fed to the Tahiti XT GPU in order to increase the overclocking potential of the card.

Speaking of the Tahiti XT core, this is based on AMD’s new Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, that replaces the previous VLIW4 design and was built for the ground up to increase GPU computing performance.

In the case of the HD 7970, this core includes 32 Compute Units for a total of 2048 stream processors that are joined by 128 texture units, 32 ROP units and a 384-bit wide memory bus.

This is linked to 3GB of GDDR5 video buffer memory which runs at 1.375GHz (5.5GHz effective), while the stock GPU frequency is set at 925MHz. 

Asus has chosen not to surpass these values in its own Radeon HD 7970 solution, so users who require faster than stock performance have to overclock the card on their own or opt for the XFX Black Edition HD 7970, which is so far the only such card to come factory overclocked.

As far as pricing is concerned, Newegg has the Asus card listed for $589.99 (464 EUR) which makes it $40 more expansive than AMD’s $549.99 (433 EUR) recommended price for the HD 7970.

First Tizen OS Screenshots Leak, Samsung I9500 Tipped for MWC 2012

Tizen OS is an unannounced mobile platform that was born from the MeeGo project. Currently, the Tizen operating system is developed by Samsung, Intel and several developers who worked on the MeeGo platform. 

Although this is an open-source project, it appears that Samsung will have the upper hand here, as the Korean handset manufacturer plans to announce the first smartphone to run the Tizen OS next month, at Mobile World Congress 2012, in Barcelona.

Until today, Tizen OS was a bit of a mystery, but courtesy to the folks over at SamMobile we now have the first screenshots of the mobile platform. However, according to the person responsible for this leak, this is an alpha release of the operating system.

In the same piece of news, Tizen OS is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2012 and rumor has it that the first device to be powered by this platform is the Samsung I9500.

We have already reported on the upcoming Samsung I9500, but everyone thought that it was likely to be the next-generation Samsung Galaxy S III, expected to be announced at the MWC 2012 in February, as well.

While part of this information is true, as Samsung indeed plans to go official with this device next month, it appears that this has nothing to do with the Galaxy S family of smartphones.

If Samsung I9500 is the first to run Tizen OS, the Korean company is likely to debut a new series of smartphones, just like it did with the Wave family of devices that run its proprietary bada OS.

The Samsung I9500 was identified via the user-agent of the device that took the snapshots showing Tizen’s UI.

No other details on the phone’s specs sheet have been revealed yet, but the screenshots indicate that this might sport an 800 x 480 resolution display, unless the pictures have been resized. 

For more screenshots with Tizen's UI head over at SamMobile's site.

1GHz Overclocked Radeon HD 7970 Announced by XFX

XFX is the first company to announce a custom designed version of the AMD Radeon HD 7970, which will be launched in the company’s Black Edition line and will arrive sporting a 1GHz overclocked Tahiti XT GPU.

The card is based on a XFX proprietary design and includes two large fans (presumably 92mm) for dissipating the heat produced by the card while running.

Thanks to this advanced cooling setup, XFX was able to push AMD’s graphics card over its reference frequencies and clocked the GPU at an impressive 1GHz while the memory is now working at 1425MHz (5.7Gbps data rate).

To put things in perspective, AMD’s recommended operating frequencies for the Radeon HD 7970 are set at 925MHz and 1.375GHz (5.5GHz effective), respectively.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 is based on the Tahiti XT core, which includes 32 Compute Units for a total of 2048 stream processors that are joined by 128 texture units, 32 ROP units and a 384-bit wide memory bus.

This is linked to 3GB of GDDR5 video buffer memory and the GPU is manufactured using the 28nm fabrication process which enables the Radeon HD 7970 to be one of the coolest and most energy efficient high-end graphics card around.

Performance wise, tests have shown that the stock HD 7970 is on average 15-25% faster than Nvidia's GTX 580, this difference growing at high resolutions, but thanks to its increased operating clocks, XFX’ solution should be even faster.

Right now, XFX hasn’t said when the Black Edition FX-797A-TDBC Radeon HD 7970 will actually arrive in stores, but Newegg has already listed the card on its website.

Pricing was established at $599.99 (about 472 EUR), which makes it significantly more expensive than other HD 7970’s based on AMD’s reference design, but the extra speed may be worth it for some.

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