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Feb 8, 2012

Gigabyte X79-UD7 Motherboard Is EOL, Company Says It Was a Limited Edition Model

Introduced in November 2011, Gigabyte’s GA-X79-UD7 motherboard was apparently a limited edition model, the Taiwanese company having just confirmed that the high-end LGA 2011 board is no longer in production.

The motherboard was recently deactivated by Newegg, which made Legit Review reach out to Gigabyte to find out what happened to the X79-UD7.

Gigabyte’s response came as a surprise to us all, since the company said that their flagship Intel X79 motherboard was a limited edition SKU and that they had sold out.

Furthermore, Gigabyte also went on to say that no more were being produced, thus the board is end of life (EOL).

Introduced at about the same time as Intel’s first Sandy Bridge-E processors, the X79-UD7 motherboard borrowed not only the look and color scheme of the previous X58A-OC, but also incorporated some of its advanced overclocking features.

Most of these were grouped in the lower right corner of the board and include a series of voltage read points, controls for adjusting the processor ratio and BCLK on the fly, as well as dip-switches to change the PWM frequency.

Power to the CPU is delivered through a 20-phase VRM that uses POSCAP low-profile capacitors, while the additional juice required by 4-way GPU setups is delivered through a series of angled SATA power plugs, placed on the lower side of the board. 

Outside of the four PCI Express x16 slots, the rest of the expansion options available in the X79-UD7 include three PCIe x1 slots, four SATA 3Gbps ports, as well as six SATA 6Gbps ports.

Those of you who want to buy the Gigabyte GA-X79-UD7, might still be able to find some floating around, but after these stocks are depleted, no other such boards will be manufactured. The recommended retail price of the GA-X79-UD7 is set at $369.99.

LG Optimus Vu Packs a 5-Inch Display, 1.5GHz CPU

LG plans on playing with the big boys on the smartphone market, as the company is preparing for the launch of a new, high-end device, supposedly called LG Optimus Vu. 

Rumor has it that this new mobile phone will be like nothing else you’ve seen before from the South Korean handset vendor. 

In fact, it will be different from all other smartphones out there, courtesy of an extra-large touchscreen display, expected to measure 5 inches diagonally. 

The large display (though Samsung Galaxy Note remains the largest out there) can deliver a unique 4:3 aspect ratio.

LG appears set to unveil the new mobile phone in the near future, as it has already teased some of its main features in the video that can be seen embedded below. 

The handset shows telltale capacitive touch buttons on the front, which clearly suggests that it will arrive on the market with Google’s Android operating system on board. 

The video is in Korean, and only those who know the language will manage to make sense of it. 

For the rest of us, there are some leaked details on this device, available courtesy of Datacider. There is also the shot above, taken from the said YouTube video (the teaser is present on LG's website as well).

Apparently, LG plans on making the new device available for purchase with a 1.5GHz application processor inside, a Qualcomm APQ8060 SoC. 

Moreover, the new mobile phone is expected to arrive on shelves with 1GB of RAM, along with an 8GB ROM and NFC capabilities. 

The handset is also rumored to pack an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, most probably with HD video recording, and to run under Google’s Android 2.3 operating system. 

LG hasn’t announced details on when the mobile phone might arrive on shelves, nor on when to expect an official unveiling. However, we might be able to learn some more info on it towards the end of this month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Intel Ivy Bridge Motherboards Entered Mass Production

Motherboard makers started to get ready for Intel’s upcoming release of its first 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, sources in Taiwan claiming that some companies have already begun mass production of LGA 1155 boards based on Intel 7-series chipsets.

According to SweClockers, this list includes three major names in the motherboard business, but the publication hasn’t revealed who they are.

Most of the solutions that have entered production are apparently based on the Intel Z77 chipset, the most advanced PCH in the 7-series Panther Point range.

The biggest change introduced by Intel with these new chipsets is the native support for USB 3.0, as previously motherboard makers had to rely on third party ICs in order to add this functionality to their solutions.

With the Panther Point chipset however they will get native support for a total of four such ports, which can be joined by as much as 14 regular USB 2.0 ports.

The rest of the features that are found inside Intel’s 7-series PCH controllers are largely similar to those of their 6-series counterparts, but the Z77 does allow for a more flexible PCI Express configuration.

According to some leaked info, the 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes available in the Ivy Bridge processors can be split by this controller chip not only into a pair of x8 links, but also in an x8 and dual x4 links, all supporting PCIe Gen 3.0.

From what we know at this point in time, Intel is expected to launch the Maho Bay platform, comprised of the 7-series Panther Point chipsets and desktop Ivy Bridge CPUs, on April 8. 

On the desktop front, the initial launch will include only Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, while Core i3 chips will arrive later in 2012.

No Media Center in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Microsoft is gearing up for showing to the world the next version of Windows 8, which should land before the end of this month as Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 

Some more info on what the platform version is bound to include has started to emerge, suggesting that there could be no Media Center available inside it. 

The fact that there will be no Media Center in the Consumer Preview is not as surprising as some might believe. 

After all, Microsoft did have it removed from the Windows 8 Developer Preview made available in September last year. 

Moreover, the Redmond-based software giant said at the time that it would have Media Center incorporated in "premium" SKUs for Windows.

Moreover, the software company stated at the BUILD conference in September that the Media Center would not be included in the first pre-release builds of Windows 8. 

Clearly, they were considering the Consumer Preview as well in this statement. 

However, the Media Center will make it to Windows 8, and The Verge claims that it will be mostly unchanged from what users of Windows 7 can enjoy at the moment. 

The feature will be included only in some flavors of the platform, and is expected to be aimed mostly at enthusiasts. 

Apparently, Microsoft decided to remove it from the platform so as to reduce the overall cost OEMs need to pay for licensing Windows 8. 

The inclusion of certain technologies in Media Center made the platform a bit more expensive. Thus, most editions of the upcoming OS will not feature it.

The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 should become available for download later this month, and will provide us with a better glimpse at what Microsoft plans for the final product. It will also bring along the beta version of Microsoft’s Windows Store.

Asus Transformer Prime Update Brings Bug Fixes, Better Overall Performance

Working hard on improving the Transformer Prime, Asus has just started sending out a new firmware update to its users, believed to fix some bugs and improve the overall performance of the tablet.

So far, information about this new software is limited, but some owners of the Asus tablet are reporting that it fixes some random reboot issues that plagued the Prime as well as a series of problems with the stability of third-party apps.

We’re still waiting for Asus to confirm these bug fixes, but until then we can tell you for sure that the new firmware updates the Prime’s WiFi version to and bumps Bluetooth up to version 9.26.

The kernel has also been updated, according to Phandroid.

The new firmware version should soon arrive to all the Transformer Prime tablets out there with a working Internet connection. 

Android 4.0 CyanogenMod 9 Not Ready Yet

The team behind the popular CyanogenMod has just announced that they need some more time before making the latest flavor of their software ready for public use. 

The new CM9 is based on the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, namely Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. 

Apparently, the changes that Google packed with the platform in comparison with the previous OS flavor, Android 2.3, prevented the team from having the software ready for users. 

“Android 4.0 contains many internal changes that require updated graphics drivers. Unfortunately, these drivers are almost always closed-source and don’t appear until a device or devkit is released with them,” CyanogenMod notes in a blog post.

“For many devices, our hands are tied. Some very clever workarounds have gone into CM9, but we’re still blocked on some subsystems like the camera.”

The team started with a fresh codebase from Google for the development of their Ice Cream Sandwich software. They’ve also started to port features from the previous CM release to the new software, aiming at delivering better integration. 

“This is a somewhat time-consuming process, but it allows us to rethink everything. We’ve eliminated the CMParts app, instead choosing to add our custom features directly into the main settings,” the blog post continues. 

“We are also taking a “just works” approach when it comes to configuration- CM7 had too many options that just weren’t widely used. We hope to achieve a good balance between tweakability and a great out-of-the-box experience. I want your phone or tablet to feel like it should have come with CM9.”

At the moment, the code can be compiled for devices such as Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi and T-Mobile versions), the HP Touchpad and Motorola Xoom.

Soon, it will be available for more Samsung devices based on the Exynos chipset, as well as for Qualcomm MSM8660 and 7×30 chipset-powered devices soon after. 

“It’s still unclear if we can provide support for the QSD8x50 family of devices (Nexus One, HTC Evo, etc), but the answer almost always turns out to be “yes” for these kinds of things,” the team explains.

G.Skill Creates Ares Low Profile DDR3 RAM

G.Skill is living up to its name as world-class supplier of memory products by unleashing a new range of DDR3 RAM for smaller systems and other unusual desktops.

G.Skill already has an extensive collection of RAM products for high-end, huge PCs, so it figured it may as well see what other people need.

Thus it was that the Ares low profile memory modules and kits came into being.

A low profile means that the height of each module is smaller than most customers may be used to.

The capacity and performance didn't get hit, though, and there is quite the variety of latencies and clock speeds to choose from as well.

There are eight clock speed options in total, with power requirements of 1.5V or 1.65V, and capacities of 8GB, 16GB or even 32 GB.

The modules themselves are of either 4GB or 8GB, leading to 16GB kits of four or two modules. The 32GB kits are all composed of four 8GB modules.

For those that want more specifics, the newcomers have a height of 3.2cm, and that is when factoring the heatspreader into things.

All are hand-tested as part of the company’s internal validation process, so that their stability and compatibility may be of the highest caliber.

Furthermore, with XMP certification (Extreme Memory Profile), hardcore gamers and overclockers can fully let themselves loose upon Intel-based motherboards.

Of course, there is nothing stopping people from pairing the Ares with an AMD platform too.

Low profile memory is usually designed for small form factor PCs, like HTPCs and such, but there are other reasons one may select it.

It may be that the PC's main unit has a large enough CPU cooler that normal modules don't fit, or perhaps the case is just short on space.

Go here to find out the specifics of each G.Skill Ares kit: latency, clock speed (1,333 MHz to 2133 MHz), heatspreader color (orange/blue), etc. No prices yet, alas.

Cowon Z2 Plenue PMP Runs Android Using a 1GHz Cortex-A8 CPU

Media players might not be as popular as they were just a few years ago, but this hasn’t stopped Cowon from releasing a new PMP model, the Z2 Plenue running Google’s Android OS.

Behind that classy looking chassis, the company installed a 1GHz Telechips ARM Cortex-A8 processor which enables it to play back not only music but also 1080p HD video.

This can be displayed either on the 3.7-inch 800x480 pixel AMOLED display of the new Plenue or on an external display linked via the available micro-HDMI output.

Other features include WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, FM radio functionality, built-in speakers and mic, while for storage duties Cowon pairs the Z2 Plenue with between 8GB and 32GB of memory.

More can be added by installing a microSD card slot, according to Everything USB.

Right now, the Cowon Z2 Plenue is on sale only in Korea where it retails for between $230 and $300 (173 to 226 EUR)

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds ILC Camera Now Official

After all sort of leaked specs and images bombarded the Web in these last few weeks, Olympus has finally brought forth the OM-D E-M5 retro-looking interchangeable lens camera that uses the company’s own Micro Four Thirds sensor format.

The first thing that one notices when taking a look at the new OM-D is just how much this camera differs from Olympus’ other interchangeable lens solutions released into the PEN-series.

Moving past its design, the crown jewel of the new Olympus E-M5 is its 16 megapixel Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor, which comes complete with five-axis image stabilization, allowing it to shift up, down, forwards, backwards and diagonal to compensate for camera movement.

This is paired together with an advanced autofocus system that Olympus says is the “fastest in the world”, while the image sensitivity of the camera ranges from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600.

Moving to the back, we get to see that Olympus has decided to install in the OM-D E-M5 an articulating 3-inch touchscreen that brings tap-to-focus and touch-shoot functionality to this ILC camera.

Burst shooting is said to reach nine-frames-per-second when in single-shot autofocus mode, while moving to continuous autofocus drops this figure to 4.2fps.

This advanced hardware components used by Olympus for the E-M5 also enables 1080i Full HD video recording, with support for the 60i (20Mbps/17Mbps), 60p (17Mbps/13Mbps), and 30p modes.

According to Olympus, the OM-D E-M5 will become available in April this year for $999.99 (body only) in both black and silver.

The ILC camera will also be sold as part of a kit with the 12-50mm or 14-42mm lenses, with pricing set at $1,300 and $1,100 (979 or 829 EUR), respectively. 

The camera is compatible with all existing Micro Four Thirds lenses and accessories, but Olympus is also working on releasing a 75mm f/1.8 lens and a splash- and dust-proof 60mm f/2.8 macro, later in 2012.

No Flash for Google Chrome on Ice Cream Sandwich

Google’s just announced Chrome browser for devices running under Android 4.0 or newer will not enjoy the benefits of Flash, Adobe has confirmed. 

This is in line with what Adobe revealed last year, namely that it would no longer develop the Flash Player for mobile devices. 

Chrome for Android Beta does not offer support for Flash content at the moment, and will never do. However, Flash will be available for Android 4.0 users as long as they browse the web using the native application. 

In a recent blog post, Bill Howard, Flash Platform, Product Management, announced that Adobe would continue to push Adobe AIR to mobile devices, and that it also planned on continuing the development of Flash for desktop browsers as well. 

However, that won’t make owners of Ice Cream Sandwich devices happier at all.

Olympus Goes Rugged with New TG-820 Digital Camera

After Panasonic, Canon and Nikon have all announced their rugged camera options for 2012, it’s now Olympus’ turn to show us their own take on the matter.

Called the Tough TG-820, the 12MP snapper comes in a variety of colors and Olympus says it’s not only waterproof to depths up to 10 meters but also shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof.

In terms of the usual camera specs, Olympus has decided to pair the TG-820 with a 5x wide optical zoom (28-140mm) that is seconded by the company’s TruePic VI image engine.

Others special features include support for the iHS technology, HDR backlight adjustment, a 3D shooting mode, dual-image stabilization and a range of magic filters.

Video recording is also supported, the camera being able to capture such content at 1080p resolutions.

If all these specs sound good to you, then you should know that the TG-820 will arrive in March for $299 (225 EUR) a pop.

Sigma DP1M & DP2M Compact Cameras Pack 15x3MP APS-C Foveon Sensor

Since being first to market with a large sensor, prime lens compact hasn’t helped Sigma all that much, the outfit has now returned with two new DP-series cameras that take things one step further.

While from the outside the DP1M and DP2M don’t look all that special, deep inside their compact bodies Sigma installed a 15x3MP APS-C Foveon image sensor, the same sensor used for the company’s flagship camera, the SD1 DSLR.

Together with the new sensor, the two DP-series cameras also feature totally redesigned lenses, with the DP1M including a 19mm F2.8 lens (28mm equivalent) and the DP2M having a 30mm F2.8 lens to give a 45mm equivalent field-of-view.

Other features include RAW and JPEG recording, a Flash hotshoe, and a 3-inch LCD screen with 920,000 pixel resolution. No info regarding pricing and availability was released so far.

Symbian-Based Nokia 803 Emerges Again

Rumor has it that Nokia is getting ready to nail Symbian’s coffin, and that we’ll soon see the last handset powered by this OS being unveiled to the world. 

The phone is said to be a high-end device, and info on it has just emerged online courtesy of BGR, who claims that Nokia will launch it in May with Belle on board. 

According to the news site, the handset will be called Nokia 803 and will arrive on the market with a 4-inch AMOLED display, HDMI-out port, microSIM support and NFC. Moreover, it will include one of the largest camera sensors in the world. 

Save for the camera sensor, all these details point at the recently leaked Nokia 801, also said to be the last Symbian phone out there. 803 was spotted in December last year with a smaller screen and a 1GHz application processor, but nothing has been officially unveiled on it so far.

Olympus SP-620UZ Point-and-Shoot Debuts: 21x Optical Zoom & 16MP Sensor

Olympus’ newly released OM-D E-M5 might pack all the flexibility and features that one needs, but for those of you looking for a much simpler camera, the company has also introduced the SP-620UZ.

Like all super zooms, the most important asset of the SP-620UZ is its 21x lens, enabling it to reach focal lengths of up to 525mm, but the rest of its specs are equally strong.

Speaking of which, these include a 16MP image sensor, dual image stabilization, 720p HD movie recording, a special 3D photo shooting function, and a series of 11 built-in Magic Filters for the moments when you start feeling creative.

The best part however is that the SP-620UZ doesn’t require any sort of custom battery packs, as Olympus made it work with plain, old, AA batteries.

Japan will be the first country to get the SP-620UZ on February 17, but no info regarding pricing has been provided so far. 

ECS BR95IIX Compact Desktop with Sandy Bridge CPUs Visits the FCC

Even though they aren’t as popular as its motherboards, ECS also builds and sells a series of compact desktop PCs designed around various Intel platforms, such as the ECS BR95IIX that recently popped up online featuring Intel Sandy Bridge processors.

The compact computer, which resembles a nettop more than a fully-fledged SNB desktop PC, has showed up on the FCC website earlier this week, where it was spotted by liliputing.

Together with the ECS BR95IIX, the FCC also received the computer’s manual. This reveals that the system measures a compact 8.9x7.6x1.9 inches (22.6x19.3x4.8 cm) and that is was designed to fit in a living room environment as easily as in an office. 

Moving past the exterior of this PC, we find that ECS has decided to power the SFF desktop with dual-core Sandy Bridge CPUs from the Core i3 or Core i5 product ranges, which are paired with 2GB of system memory.

Users can however choose to populate the DRAM slots found inside the chassis with 4GB RAM modules to reach a total of 8GB of system memory.

The rest of the specs list includes a support for 2.5-inch hard drives with up to 640GB of storage space, a pair of USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, a card reader and an ExpressCard slot.

The BR95IIX can be connected to an HDTV or a projector using the VGA and HDMI outputs found in the rear of the system.

Besides the Gigabit Ethernet connection, the ECS BR95IIX has an internal 802.11a/g/n WiFi card. For added security, a fingerprint reader rounds up the specs of this ECS small form factor PC. 

So far, the ECS hasn’t announced this Sandy Bridge powered computer, so we have no clue about its pricing or availability date.

Canon's New MX512 and MX432 Printers Are AirPrint-Enabled

Digital imaging company Canon U.S.A. has announced two new AirPrint-enabled devices - the PIXMA MX512 and MX432 Wireless2 Office All-In-One inkjet printers.

Introduced by Apple in iOS 4.0, AirPrint is a wireless printing standard that enables iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to beam their photos, email, web pages and documents right to devices like the two I just mentioned above.

There’s no need for complicated set-up procedures and there aren’t any drivers to install either. As Canon themselves put it, the experience is as seamless as it gets.

The company used this opportunity to announce that more inkjet printers from its portfolio are about to get the AirPrint treatment. In fact, all of the Canon PIXMA Wireless All-In-One inkjet printers launched from this point forward will boast AirPrint support, according to the manufacturer.

On the iOS side, users will require an iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S or iPod touch (3rd generation and later) and iOS 4.2 or later.

Visit Canon here for more information on the new PIXMA MX512 and MX432 Wireless2 Office All-In-One inkjet printers.

“AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, when the company unveiled the new printing standard.

“iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to an HP ePrint printer or to a printer shared on a Mac or PC,” added Schiller.

Apple initially offered support for a number of HP printers. The first devices that were compatible with iOS 4.2 in the fall of 2010 included the HP Photosmart, Officejet, Officejet Pro and the LaserJet Pro series ePrint enabled printers.

AMD Quietly Intros Two New Llano-Based Athlon II X4 CPUs

AMD has just added two new processors to its Athlon II X4 range, both of these chips being based on the Llano architecture traditionally used for A-Series APUs.

With the launch of Llano in mid-2011, everybody expected AMD to retire the Athlon II and Sempron brands that were previously used for mid-range processors on the K10 architecture.

However, the company continued to use the Athlon II and Sempron names for Llano products that didn't have on-board graphics cores.

The first Athlon II processor for FM1 was actually released by the chip maker shortly after the introduction of the A-Series APUs. This chip was called the Athlon II X4 631 and it included four computing cores clocked at 2.6GHz.

A few months later, AMD released the Athlon II 651, which also featured four processing cores but this time run at 3GHz.

Yesterday, AMD continued this trend by adding two other Llano-based Athlon II X4 processors, the 638 and 641.

Spotted for the first time in August last year, the Athlon II X4 641 is a quad-core part clocked at 2.8GHz, each of its cores including 1MB of L2 cache, according to CPU-World.

The chip features all the technologies that were introduced with K10 SKUs, but now utilizes the FM1 socket and has a TDP of 100W.

The second Athlon II processor to arrive, the 638, is also a quad-core part with 4MB of Level 2 cache, but this time it operates at 2.7GHz and has a TDP of just 65W.

The boxed version of the Athlon II X4 641 is available right now for pre-order from Provantage and a few other US online stores with prices starting at $90 (about 68 EUR). The Athlon II 638 is not yet available in stores, but it should be priced at $81 (61 EUR).

Pentax Readies Optio WG-2 Waterproof Cameras

Pentax is one of the few companies that has waterproof cameras which don't necessarily drain people of all their funds. The new Optio WG-2 is one of them.

Pentax has officially introduced the Optio WG-2 series of consumer-oriented cameras, even though it is not ready to sell them yet.

Still, it should not take too long for shipments to begin, no later than the end of this month in fact, though the same cannot be said for a certain accessory.

As it happens, Pentax also intends to offer a chest harness, but that item won't be available before late spring/early summer.

That said, there are two WG-2 camera, if the color options are not taken into account.

One of them, the standard one, is priced at $349.95, or 263.69 Euro according to exchange rates.

The other brings GPS (global positioning system) to the equation and will sell for $399.95. This sum translates into 301.37 Euro, give or take.

Pentax chose a 16-Megapixel sensor and designed the Optio WG-2 with a 3-inch anti-reflective LCD (liquid crystal display) with 460k dots.

Furthermore, the newcomer can shoot photos and videos in either 720p60 video mode or in 1080p30 quality.

As for the waterproofing, Pentax was able to seal the chassis well enough that the product would survive being submerged in water of up to 12 meters (40 feet).

Finally, the “Sport Mount Chest Harness” allows for video to be captured without the use of one's hands. It will cost a somewhat steep $49.95/37.63 Euro though.

Of course, one can only wonder if affixing a camera to one's front in that manner is worth it. After all, if one is to record their travels, a helm/head mount would arguably work best. The chest point of view, so to speak, may be rather limited, especially during hikes when people have to lean forward for climbing slopes and the like.

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