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Jan 23, 2012

Leaked LG CX2 Is Optimus 3D 2, Packs Dual Core CPU and NOVA Display

Korean handset maker LG has big plans for this year’s Mobile World Congress trade fair, which is set to kick off next month. With only a bit more than a month until the event, LG leaks have started to pour, unveiling some of the devices to be officially announced in February. 

No later than last Friday, the folks over at Pocketnow revealed a mysterious LG X3 that featured a quad-core processor, LTE support and a stunning 4.7-inch capacitive touchscreen display.

Today, another unannounced LG device is making headlines, the LG CX2, which seems to be the true successor of the Optimus 3D Android smartphone.

Pocketnow reports that the LG “Optimus 3D 2” will be announced next month at the Mobile World Congress 2012, in Barcelona. However, there’s no telling exactly when the smartphone hits shelves, though the handset maker may want to debut this one in Q1 2012.

Hardware-wise, the LG CX2 or Optimus 3D 2 is equipped with a slightly more powerful 1.2 GHz dual-core processor manufactured by Texas Instruments.

Just like the original Optimus 3D, LG CX 2 is said to feature a 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, though it looks like LG will use a NOVA display in this case to improve the brightness of the screen.

According to Pocketnow, the difference between the two models’ displays will be significant especially when it comes to brightness while the screens are in 2D and 3D modes.

LG CX2 is 2mm slimmer than the Optimus 3D, and packs dual-rear 5-megapixel cameras and 8GB of internal memory. There’s also HSPA 21Mbps support, along with DLNA and Wi-Fi capabilities.

Pocketnow also confirms from a trusted source that the smartphone will be delivered with an NFC (Near Field Communications) chip inside that will allow users to make mobile payments and read NFC tags.

Photo of Sony ST25i ‘Kumquat’ Leaks

Sony has unveiled two high-end smartphones at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and has some more of them in the pipeline for the rest of the year. 

Among them, we can count the Sony Ericsson ST25i ‘Kumquat,’ a handset that made it to the headlines before, and which can now be admired in what is said to be the first leaked photo of it. 

At the first glance, the smartphone appears to be similar with the Sony Xperia S that made an official appearance at the said fair. 

The mobile phone sports the same Iconic Identity design, the guys over at XperiaBlog note. It also got the transparent notification strip at the bottom. 

In fact, the new smartphone also appears to be very similar with the LT22i Nypon that it might be mistaken for this device. 

XperiaBlog notes that, despite the striking resemblance, the two devices are different. The screen resolution of ST25i Kumquat is one of the main differences between the two. 

They note that the three icons on the top right of the handset take up more space when compared to the Sony Ericsson logo on the top of the device. 

This is so due to the fact that LT22i Nypon is expected to arrive on shelves with a screen boasting a qHD resolution (540 x 960) resolution, while ST25i Kumquat will actually feature a FWGA resolution (480 x 854). 

Sony is expected to unveil some more info on the upcoming members of the Xperia family as soon as next month, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

The handset vendor already unveiled plans to make an announcement at the event, but it did not offer info on the devices that will be launched. 

Hopefully, the Sony ST25i ‘Kumquat’ will be unveiled in the next several weeks. By the looks of it, it will prove a highly appealing device, though it should sport an affordable price tag.

HTC Flyer Possibly Receiving Ice Cream Sandwich in Q1 2012

The Flyer is HTC’s first try on Android tablets. The slate was launched last year in May with Android 2.3 Gingerbread on board.

However, HTC promised customers that it would upgrade the Flyer to Honeycomb as soon as Google made it available on the market.

Even though the Taiwanese handset maker did not manage to deliver the Honeycomb on time, over the past two months HTC Flyer owners have been receiving the update.

According to an HTC rep, it appears that the company plans to upgrade the Flyer to Ice Cream Sandwich operating system this year. In fact, the rep said to a customer that the Android 4.0 update would be delivered within the next few months, the folks at AndroidAndMe claim.

Still, given the fact that customer services reps spread false information in the past because of lack of knowledge, there’s no reason to be thrilled yet. Stay tuned for more information on the matter.

Huawei Honor with Ice Cream Sandwich Announced in China

Shortly after Huawei announced that it would deliver its MediaPad 7-inch slate with Ice Cream Sandwich on board starting Q1 2012, the Chinese handset manufacturer launched the ‘improved’ Huawei Honor. 

The ‘improved’ version of Huawei Honor will be delivered with Ice Cream Sandwich operating system on board starting this month. Unfortunately, the smartphone is only available in the Mainland via China Unicom carrier.

Chinese customers who already purchased the older Huawei Honor device with Gingerbread will receive an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich soon, the handset maker claims.

In the same news, the Chinese company announced the white flavor of the Huawei Honor would be available on the market beginning next month.

Huawei plans to launch the white edition of Honor just before Valentine’s Day, but it’s unclear whether or not this will be exclusively available in China as well.

The Honor will soon become one of Huawei’s mid-range Android smartphones, as the company already revealed two new high-end devices with dual core CPUs and Android 4.0, the Ascend P1 and Ascend P1 S.

Equipped with a 1.4 GHz single-core processor, Huawei Honor was released on the market last month with Android 2.3 Gingerbread on board. 
However, the handset manufacturer already released a demo version of Ice Cream Sandwich for Huawei Honor a few weeks ago.

The handset boasts an enhanced 8-megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash and HD (720p) video recording, as well as a secondary 2-megapixel camera for self-portraits and video chats.

On the inside, the smartphone packs 1GB onboard memory, 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of ROM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

In the connectivity front, Huawei Honor offers a wide range of options, including Wi-Fi and HSDPA support, Bluetooth, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot and built-in GPS.

The handset’s 1930 mAh battery should provide users up to 380 hours of standby time or up to 7 hours of talk time.

Motorola Recruiting Software Testers for Motorola PHOTON 4G Update

Following Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi Ice Cream Sandwich roll-out from last week, Motorola has just issued an official statement on its forums searching for software testers for the PHOTON 4G smartphone.

This means that Motorola PHOTON 4G will receive a software update within the next few days. Those who want to take part at these soak tests will have to join Motorola Feedback Network community and fill out a special registration form.

According to Motorola, this will not guarantee that a PHOTON 4G user will participate in these software tests, as they will be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as on valid registration answers.

The recruiting period will last until the full number of software testers is achieved. Only those accepted will receive additional information on the exact content of the update, and will be notified when the trial begins.

Updated Soundtracker Available on Symbian, S60 5th Edition, Series40

A new version of the Soundtracker mobile application is now available for download for devices powered by Symbian, S60 5th Edition, Series40. 

The S60 5th Edition S^3, Symbian Anna and Symbian Belle iteration of the app has reached version 1.7.5 and includes a variety of performance improvements and bug fixes.Moreover, the Soundtracker APIs have been upgraded too. 

The Series40 flavor of Soundtracker has reached version 2.2 and is available now with a series of performance improvements and bug fixes, as well as with new German localization. 

As soon as they install the new app release, users will also be able to name their station. The new software flavor packs updated Soundtracker APIs as well. 

The Soundtracker Radio mobile client for Symbian, S60 5th Edition, and Series40 devices can be downloaded, via link below the video.

Soundtracker Radio (Symbian/S40) beta 1.7.5 / 2.2:
v1.7.5 for Symbian^3, Symbian Anna, Symbian Belle [ZIP]

v2.2 for S40 [ZIP]

Gigabyte Creates VIA-Powered Mini-ITX Motherboard

VIA may not hold a very big share of the CPU and chipset market, but the fields it does serve are better for it, enough so that Gigabyte decided to try out the NANO processor and its accompanying chipset.

There was a time, rather long ago, when VIA motherboards and processors were actually easy to encounter in PCs around the world.

Today, the company holds a very small share of the worldwide chipset and CPU market, mostly catering to the needs of the embedded segment.

That said, Gigabyte decided that the VX900 chipset and the Nano U3300 dual-core processor deserved its backing.

Thus it was that the M7V90PI motherboard came to be, featuring the Mini-ITX form factor.

For those who want to know the exact specs, the Nano U3300 chip is a dual-core unit with a clock speed of 1.2 GHz.

Meanwhile, the platform offers one DDR3 SO-DIMM memory slot, plus integrated graphics with DirectX 9 support (Chome9 HD) and a VIA Vinyl VT1708S audio codec.

What's more, customers will find six USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel, along with a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors (SATA II) and video ports (D-Sub and DVI).

Finally, Gigabyte was able to cram one PCI Express x1 slot on the newcomer, along with plugs for a CPU fan, a PS/2 connector, two COM ports and Gigabit Ethernet.

By using the Gigabyte M7V90PI motherboard, customers in the embedded market will be able to build systems with up to 4GB of RAM (random access memory).

Power efficiency should be no problem, given the TDP (thermal design power) of the NANO U3300 (just 6.5W).

Unfortunately, though the company already added the official product page to its website, it did not say what price it demanded in exchange for this thing.

Then again, since this is not a consumer product, that is not so surprising.

Intel Buys High-Bandwith Networking Technology Maker InfiniBand

Intel bought many companies over the years, but the latest acquisition may not exactly be easy to guess, since it is not about central processing units.

Intel has officially announced that it has reached an agreement with QLogic for the acquirement of all product lines and certain assets related to the InfiniBand business.

In other words, the already massive corporation will soon own its own high-bandwidth networking intellectual property.

With that technology in hand, the Santa Clara, California-based IT giant can start on new, scalable HPC (high-performance computing) applications.

The announcement did not say how much money Intel was going to pay QLogic.

Either way, if Intel plays its new cards right, it should be able to recover its losses and continue to make even more money as time passes.

“At the International Supercomputing Conference 2011, Intel unveiled a bold vision to redefine HPC performance and break the Exascale barrier by 2018,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center and Connected System Group. 

“The technology and expertise from QLogic provide important assets to provide the scalable system fabric needed to execute on this vision. Adding QLogic's InfiniBand product line to our networking portfolio will bring increased options and exceptional value to our datacenter customers.”

A large number of InfiniBand employees are expected to be offered (and accept) positions at Intel, once the transition process begins.

Once everything is set up (by the end of this first quarter of 2012), work on new technologies and products should start immediately.

Right now, the goal is to achieve supercomputing fabric architectures of ExaFLOP/s level performance by 2018.

For those unaware, An ExaFLOP/s is the same as “a quintillion computer operations per second”, as Intel put it. That is the equivalent of a hundred times more than the maximum prowess of today's strongest supercomputers.

New Sony CMOS Sensor Has Back Illumination

Not one to miss all the demand for cameras with extra functionality and adaptability, Sony decided to build a new type of camera CMOS sensor.

The CMOS sensor made by Sony is unique in how it places the pixel section (with the back-illuminated structure pixels) on the chip that has the circuit section (which processes signals).

This layered structure lets it provide a better functionality and image quality.

Also, since the sensor is smaller, it can allow for cameras as a whole to become smaller as well, especially if the other components somehow become more compact.

Sony chose to name this invention 'stacked CMOS sensor' and says it is faster and renders images better than standard sensors while consuming less power.

Sample shipments will begin at some point in March this year (2012).

iPhone 5 May Boast New Sony CMOS Image Sensor

Sony has unveiled a new backlit CMOS (complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor) image sensor that it is currently working on, which has the potential to end up in Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Sony’s next-gen image sensor separates the CMOS sensors from the circuits that handle imagery.

According to the Japanese electronics maker, “This image sensor layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels onto chips containing the circuit section for signal processing, which is in place of supporting substrates for conventional back-illuminated CMOS image sensors.”

Sony says the new sensor will offer enhanced image quality, superior functionalities and a more compact size. Apple will require a thinner camera sensor if it wants to reduce the size of its smartphones with the introduction of its iPhone 5 this year.

The Japanese company also said the new sensor was not only better than current ones, but also cheaper to make.

RIM’s New CEO Exposes Future Plans, Doesn't Propose Changes

RIM has got a new President and Chief Executive Officer, in the person of Thorsten Heins. Both Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down from their co-CEO positions, but they did not leave the company. 

Research In Motion’s founders and former co-CEOs will be there to continue to offer guidance. Lazaridis will act as Vice Chair of RIM’s Board and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee, while Balsillie will be a member of the board. 

Following the initial announcement regarding the leadership change, RIM took the time today to present its new CEO to the world. Thorsten Heins, in his turn, presented his plans for the future of the handset vendor. 

One thing that strikes from the beginning is the fact that Heins is determined to continue on the same road that RIM currently is on, which many suggest could actually lead to destruction. 

Referring to the purchase of QNX, Heins said that RIM did a great move: “We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim’s continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. 

“I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company’s future,” he also said. “RIM earned its reputation by focusing relentlessly on the customer and delivering unique mobile communications solutions. We intend to build on this heritage to expand BlackBerry’s leadership position,” Heins noted.

RIM has been long lagging behind Google and Apple, and some of the latest rumors around the web suggested that the company might be set to put itself up for sale. 

Clearly, RIM’s current strategy isn’t paying off, and the company needs to make some major changes to ensure it becomes successful once again. For the time being, it appears that the new CEO won’t make these changes. 

In the video embedded below, you can see Heins, which has been with the company for four years, stating that RIM should continue what it is doing to become successful. 

"If we continue doing well what we're doing, I see no problems with us being in the top three players worldwide in the next years in wireless,” he says. 

He also notes that he has no plans to split the company into separate businesses, but that he is opened to the idea of licensing the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system. 

“Now on the licensing piece: I’m absolutely confident that BlackBerry 10 will prove itself as a platform,” he stated. 

“If there is requests coming towards Research In Motion to talk about licensing that platform to other companies I will entertain those discussions, I will listen, I will access the business opportunity for RIM and if it makes sense strategically and tactically to go down that path, and then I will make the decision together with the board.”

“It’s not my focus one. My focus one is to strengthen RIM’s business based on that integrated approach,” he also said. 

At the moment, the company is set to bring to the market the new PLayBook 2.0 platform, which will be released in February (some point at the 17th day of the month), and to release BlackBerry 10 in due time.

No More AMD-NVIDIA Combos, LucidLogix Hydra About to Be Executed

LucidLogix' Hydra system-on-chip devices may have just made the difference clear between a revolutionary breakthrough and something that is 'just' a breakthrough. 

The Hydra 200 SoC, first used in the MSI Hydra 200 Big Bang Fuzion motherboard, seemed to fit the bill of a revolutionary technology perfectly when it emerged for the first time. 

With the ability to allow AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards to work in tandem, regardless of model, it seemed to be just what everyone was waiting for. 

Unfortunately, the great idea turned out not to be so well received, even though initial appreciations were high. 

In the end, the performance of Hydra-enabled multi-card setups was inferior to that of 'pure' AMD CrossFire or NVIDIA SLI configurations. 

Now, there are genuine concerns that nothing more will come of the idea. 

Looking back, it seems as though the way the whole idea was approached wrong. 

Only some high-end motherboards actually got landed with Hydra, but the price premium made CrossFireX and SLI models all the more appealing. 

After all, if people could afford a high-end platform, they could just as easily afford a pair of AMD or NVIDIA cards as well. 

It doesn't help the technology's situation that MSI announced it had decided not to include Hydra SoCs on future products. 

All in all, cross compatibility for video cards was one of those dreams that proved not to be all they were cracked up to be when they finally came true. 

On the bright side, Lucid, as a company, doesn't have to worry about its wellbeing, since the Virtu and XLR8 technologies have been fueling its finances quite readily. 

At this point, it is almost a certainty that LucidLogix will just go ahead and abandon the whole hardware side as obsolete. If nothing else, NVIDIA and AMD can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief.

Gigabyte Offers an Intel-Based Mini-ITX Board

People may not have heard yet, but the VIA-powered M7V90PI is not the only mini-ITX motherboard that Gigabyte has prepared. 

While that one is ready to handle the embedded market well enough, the company also designed one for barebone PCs. 

Dubbed MSH61DK, it supports Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs, due to featuring the Intel H61 Express chipset. 

Two DDR-1333 SO-DIMM memory slots are present, for up to 8GB of RAM, along with a pair of Mini PCI Express slots. 

What's more, a couple of SATA 3.0 Gbps ports ensure coverage for the storage part of the equation. 

Other specs include USB 3.0 (two ports), Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and Realtek ALC 887 audio. 

Go here for all the info available on this green-colored platform. Just don't expect a price, because there isn't one listed anywhere

Installing Windows 8 Metro Apps via Windows Store

Applications built specifically for Windows 8 and its Metro UI will arrive on devices mainly via Microsoft’s own application portal, the Windows Store. 

This means that users will have to access the store to find applications that fit their needs, and that they will also perform the installation via the Store. 

The app stores available today function in about the same manner. Similarly, Windows 8 users will be able to install free apps right away, while having to get through a series of security steps for paid apps. 

“Assuming you are signed in to the Windows Store, one tap on the app listing page is all you’ll need to install free and trial apps. That’s it,” Jonathan Wang, program manager of Microsoft’s Windows Store client team, explains

“For paid apps, we will ask for your password to confirm your purchase. If you don’t want to enter your password for each purchase, we do have a setting to turn off this security step—but we think those of you with kids will appreciate this extra little roadblock to unintentional purchases.”

After hitting the install button for a specific app, users will be taken to the previous page they were looking at, instead of remaining on the app’s page. According to Wang, users should not be taken out of the context once they have decided to install an application. 

“We don’t believe you should have to stare at a progress bar and count every second as it goes by,” he explains. 

“Likewise, staying on the app listing page for the app you just acquired leaves you at a dead end with nothing to do.

“Instead, as soon as the installation starts, we take you back to the previous page you were looking at, so you can continue your shopping experience; in many cases, that’s the landing page, or a category page, or another list of great apps to try that you were previously looking at.”

Apparently, users find it more pleasant to be able to continue discovering new software after getting one application on their devices.

Windows 8 will provide info on the progress of the installation, and there will also be a tile added to the Start screen as soon as the installation is completed. Users will also be able to tap on the progress indicator to access more details on how the installation is moving forth. 

As soon as the installation completes, users receive a notification and are offered the possibility to launch the application through tapping that notification. 

“Tapping that notification will launch the app, so you can start using it the second it’s ready. The new app tile always appears at the end of your Start screen, and from there, you can easily move it to wherever you like—so you stay in charge of how you organize apps on your Start screen,” Wang notes.

AMD Opteron 6200 CPUs Are the Best Server Processors, Linley Group Claims

Consumers may have been miffed by Bulldozer's failure to live up to its hype, but the people on the server market have a much higher opinion of the CPUs, apparently.

It appears that the “Bulldozer” architecture is definitely not unloved on the server market, even if its consumer-oriented incarnations have been having a hard time, even with the performance hotfix.

It so happens that The Linley Group recently hold the first session of their annual Analysts' Choice Awards.

After looking at products released between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, they have reached the conclusion that the AMD Opteron 6200 line is the best there is on the server front.

“The AMD Opteron 6200 Series processor rose to the top of our list of nominees due to its leading performance for high-volume, dual-socket servers,” said Bob Wheeler, senior analyst at The Linley Group. 

“Reported SPEC_rate2006 baseline scores show the AMD Opteron processor Model 6282 SE delivers about 20 percent greater integer performance and nearly 40 percent greater floating-point performance than comparable processors from the competition and costs about 40 percent less.”

It bears noting that the Opteron 6200 also got recognized by Infoworld recently, during the Technology of the Year event (the chip was part of the Dell PowerEdge R715).

Needless to say, the Sunnyvale, California-based company was every bit as pleased with the news as one can guess.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious award from The Linley Group,” said Pat Patla, corporate vice president for AMD's Server Business. 

“Since we launched the new AMD Opteron processor a little more than 2 months ago, the industry has rallied around the combination of innovation and price-performance advantage AMD is delivering to Cloud, HPC and enterprise customers. It is clear the new AMD Opteron processor with our 'Bulldozer' technology is a winner.”

Wireless Neural Routers Created in the US

The emerging field of optogenetics is an area of science that deals with using light to control various aspects of neural functionality. Researchers at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Kendall Research have just developed a new type of instrument that acts like a neural router. 

The tool will help investigators determine how switching off certain cells in the brains of mice and other small animals will influence their behavior. The difference between this device and others is that the former is wireless, allowing test subjects full liberty of movement. 

In the past, scientists had only used fixed optogenetic instrumentation, which severely limited the quality and amount of data that could be derived from experiments. Now, test animals can move about freely, as experts temper with various regions of their brains. 

In optogenetics, neurons are made sensitive to certain types of light through injecting photosensitive compounds in the brain. When a specific wavelength of light reaches those primed cells, they either become activated or inhibited, depending on necessities. 

This technique can be used to manipulate behavior, model disease processes, and potentially deliver treatments. With this innovation, researchers will be able to move away from the bulky lasers and fiber optics that were previously required for studies of this type. 

Of the several prototype devices the Kendall Research group developed, some show great promise, and could eventually make their way to the market in a few years. In the future, this technique could be used for high-throughput studies, Technology Review reports. 

But investigators are also developing systems for controlling these experiments automatically and remotely. The company was founded by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student Christian Wentz, who studied in the lab of MIT Media Lab neuroscientist Ed Boyden.

The most promising device his startup created weighs only 3 grams, and features cleverly-packed light-emitting diodes (LED) and laser diodes instead of the usual laser light source. The instrument connects directly to an implant in the animals' brains. 

Each of the optogenetic implants receives electricity wirelessly, through supercapacitors located near the testing areas. These power sources operate in bursts, as they are not very efficient at providing continuous electricity.

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