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Feb 9, 2012

Intel Haswell CPUs to Launch in Mar-Jun 2013, Says Leaked Company Roadmap

The launch date of Intel’s 2012 Haswell processors has so far been covered in mystery, but recently a leaked company roadmap has revealed that these chips are expected to arrive in the March-June timeframe.

Just as it’s the case with the upcoming Ivy Bridge launch, the first CPUs to arrive will be introduced in the Core i5 and Core i7 product lines.

These will cover the mainstream and performance sector, while the lower end Core i3 processors are expected to be launched later that year, according to the info leaked by Donanim Haber.

Haswell will be a “Tock” on Intel’s roadmap, meaning that it has an entirely new architecture built using the 22nm production node.

Intel plans to split its product range into two distinct groups. The first group includes the company's desktop and notebook processors, while the latter is specially designed for Ultrabooks and drops the usual 2-chip platform approach that Intel has been using for quite some time in favor of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design.

Desktop CPUs will feature either two of four processing cores with TDPs of 35, 45, 65 or 95 Watt, and will include a dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L memory controller, as well as GT2 or GT1 integrated graphics cores.

Mobile chips will be available in the same dual or quad-core configurations, but feature the more powerful Intel GT3 GPU, while the memory controller only supports DDR3L DIMMs.

As far as the Ultrabooks Haswell chips are concerned, these will be limited at supporting dual computing cores.

The TDP of Intel's upcoming system-on-a-chip devices will be set at 15W, while the rest of the notebook processors are rated as 37, 47 or 57 Watt parts..

Other features include support for the DirectX 11.1 API, support for the AVX2 instruction set, as well as a series of IPC improvements meant to increase single-thread performance. More details should become available in the coming months, after Intel starts the distribution of the first engineering sample CPUs.

Alienware Could Consider Building a Gaming Tablet

Razer’s Project Fiona might not be the only gaming tablet in the works, since Alienware is also considering branching off in the same direction by delivering a slate designed from the ground up to satisfy gamers.

Alienware is still not convinced about the success of such a tablet, but the idea came up a couple of times during its internal discussions.

“We have discussed it [tablets] a couple of times. There are issues and limitations that make it difficult to see that would appeal to our core audience right now,” said Eoin Leyden, product manager at Alienware, during a meeting with Pocket Lint.

According to Leyden, even though the touch interface used in tablets makes a lot of sense for Web surfing and playing casual games such as Angry Birds, this sort of control mechanism isn’t suited for more advanced games.

"The issue is the input mechanism and how the game uses the mechanisms and turns them into in-game actions." 

Alienware’s product manager seems to be certain that these problems can be surpassed, but they require alternative ways to play a game, since Razer's bolt-on controllers don’t seem to be a convincing option according to Leyden.

"At some point in the future tablets could have eye tracking in there, so you could control your character that way."

The good news however is that, from a performance standpoint, tablets are almost capable of delivering a convincing gaming experience thanks to the release of ever more powerful chipsets with better graphics and higher processing power.

"From a performance point of view tablets are on an accelerated curve,” but ”they aren't quite there yet,” said Leyden.

Alienware’s rep hasn’t mentioned when he thinks gaming tablets will become a reality. However, if Razer’s Project Fiona turns out to be a success, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Alienware jump on board with a gaming slate of its own.

16GB Galaxy Nexus in White Up for Pre-Order for $660 (500 EUR)

The white-themed Galaxy Nexus was officially unveiled several weeks ago, but the phone has yet to hit shelves. According to Samsung, customers should be able to grab the white version of the Galaxy Nexus starting February 13.

However, major retailer Negri has just listed the 16GB Galaxy Nexus in white and is now taking pre-orders. Customers who wish to reserve it will have to shell out no less than $659.50 (500 EUR) upfront.

This unlocked version of Galaxy Nexus has the same features as the original black model. Keep in mind that only the back cover of the smartphone is white, the front part has the same black tint as the standard Galaxy Nexus.

According to Negri, the estimated shipping date for the 16 GB Galaxy Nexus in white is February 13.

Kodak Backs Out of Camera Market

As part of its effort to be reborn as a company, Kodak has announced the decision to gradually stop offering digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames. 

Basically, the company is phasing out what used to be a major part of its global business, which means that it will focus on desktop inkjet printers and photo printing (online and retail-based). 

Kodak plans to completely stop selling dedicated capture devices, as it calls them, by the end of the first half of this year (2012). 

After that, it will only try to find new licenses in this category and generally expand its brand licensing program. 

As soon as these newer changes are complete, it hopes to make savings of about $100 million a year. 

“For some time, Kodak’s strategy has been to improve margins in the capture device business by narrowing our participation in terms of product portfolio, geographies and retail outlets,” said Pradeep Jotwani, president, consumer businesses, and Kodak chief marketing officer. 

“Today’s announcement is the logical extension of that process, given our analysis of the industry trends.” 

The consumer products and services that will live on, in addition to printers, are retail-based photo kiosks, digital dry lab systems, apps for Facebook, the Kodak Gallery (an online digital photo products service), camera accessories, batteries and, finally, traditional film and photographics paper. 

Retail partners have already been contacted in regards to the transition and Kodak will, of course, honor all related product warranties. 

Finally, it will keep offering technical support for whatever cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames it has already sold. 

For those who want to know more about Kodak's dire straits, the consumer electronics company filed for bankruptcy around the middle of January, 2012 (last month) and sued Samsung over the Galaxy Tab soon after.

HTC Rezound Gets Its First ICS ROM with HTC Sense 3.6 UI

HTC Rezound continues to receive maintenance updates through Verizon Wireless, but the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade has yet to be announced. 

However, Rezound owners are probably aware that XDA Developers already leaked an official Android 4.0.3 ROM for their devices, which enables them to cook some new custom ROMs.

In this regard, XDA forum user JoelZ9614 has just released an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the HTC Rezound, which features Sense 3.6 UI. 

According to him, the ROM won’t receive any updates, as it has been especially built to be used as a base for every Rezound owner.

The new ROM features the stock Android 4.0.3, HTC Sense 3.6 UI and Sony Bravia Engine, which should improve the image quality.

There are also a few non-functional things, such as the data arrows and the Google Calendar sync. Head over to the original thread for more details on how to download and flash this ROM.

Samsung Galaxy S II HD Headed to Canada

Samsung already launched its Galaxy S II HD in South Korean and the United States. The good news is that the Korean handset manufacturer plans to launch the smartphone in Canada as well.

Although the company has yet to confirm the exact release date of the device, the guys over at MobileSyrup have learned from sources close to the matter that the Galaxy S II HD is expected to arrive in the country in “early Q2.”

Given the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S II HD is LTE-enabled, the smartphone will be carried by one of the three Canadian major operators, TELUS, Rogers or Bell, in order to take advantage of their LTE networks.

Aside from LTE capability, the superphone packs a stunning 4.65-inch Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen display that supports 720 x 1280 pixels resolution and 16 million colors. The screen features Corning Gorilla Glass coating for extra protection against scrapes and scratches.

Another strong point of the Galaxy S II HD is the enhanced 8-megapixel rear photo snapper, which features autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording. The device also comes with a secondary 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls.

The Galaxy S II HD is amongst the most powerful Android devices launched by Samsung. The device is equipped with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, which is complemented by an Adreno 220 graphics processing unit.

In addition, the phone packs 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

Software-wise, Samsung Galaxy S II HD runs Google’s Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread operating system, but will probably receive an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade soon after release. Furthermore, the smartphone comes pre-loaded with Google’s full suite of apps and services, including Gmail, Gtalk, Google Search, YouTube, and Calendar.

More iPad 3 Parts Leak, Some Specs Determined

A new iPad 3 leak is being reported, this time complete with inner parts and more details about the potential end-specifications.

Obtained from iPatch, a U.K. repair shop, the parts showed by Cult of Mac tell the same story as the Apple.pro leak reported earlier today.

But in addition to leaking the back aluminum shell of the next-generation iPad, iPatch also leaked a flex cable containing the sleep/wake button, the volume buttons, and the mute switch, as well as iPad 3’s microphone, which appears to be different from the one used in the iPad 2.

There’s a good chance Apple wants Siri in the next iPad, and for that, they’ll need a top notch microphone and perhaps even a better processor.

But there’s an even more notable difference between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3, as far as internals are concerned.

Specifically, the Wi-Fi components are completely different in the latest version of Apple’s tablet PC.

Furthermore, there doesn’t appear to be any space for a headphone jack at the bottom of the iPad 3, but there’s an opening for something else there. Perhaps Apple wants to include another port.

Finally, the Cult notes that iPad 3’s rear panel has been designed so that it can house an even bigger battery than the one found inside the iPad 2. The space designated for the logic board also seems to be smaller.

Apple’s third-generation iPad is expected to launch in the coming months. An early March unveiling wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary, and there’s some indication that Apple plans to deploy iOS 5.1 at the beginning of next month.

The Cupertino giant most likely wants to throw in its iPad 3 with a brand new version of the iOS operating system.

Apple Loses, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N Not Banned in Germany

Samsung tried to go around the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban in Germany by releasing the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, and that seems to have worked. 

While Apple attempted to persuade the court that the product infringed its property and should be denied sale, the Judge thought otherwise

This only means that there will be no preliminary injunction, though. 

Apple could still, eventually, win the case and get the item banned, for all the good it would do. 

By all accounts, it is more likely that Samsung will have already replaced the Galaxy Tab 10.1N with the Galaxy Tab 11.6 by then. 

The next big battle is bound to go down in Australia, where Apple really let loose the dogs of war and launched an explosive legal action not long ago.

VIA Intros Dual Core VIA EPIA-M910 Mini-ITX Board

VIA keeps expending its embedded motherboard lineup with new solutions based on the company’s own Nano and Eden microprocessors, the latest of these additions being the EPIA-M910 mini-ITX mainboard.

Users have the option of choosing between two board revisions, one packing a 1.6GHz VIA Nano X2 processor, while the other comes with a low-voltage 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 CPU with passive cooling.

Both of these include two processing cores and are paired with the company's VX900H media system hub sporting hardware acceleration support for various HD video formats, including MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1, WMV9 and HDCP for Blu-ray content. 

The EPIA-M910 mainboard can also be configured with up to 8GB of system memory, via a pair of full-length DIMMs socket, while on the storage front the board comes equipped with a pair of SATA 3Gps port.

Throughout the board PCB, VIA has also placed various other headers for a 24-bit LVDS interface, four USB 2.0 ports, a 5-wire resistive touch sensor, and an 8-bit digital I/O. 

The rest of the required ports and connectors are spread around the sides of the EPIA-M910 and these include HDMI and VGA video outputs, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual COM ports (four more are available via an add-on card), 5.1-channel audio and a pair of PS/2 connectors. 

A PCI Express x4 slot rounds up the features list, which can be populated with a raiser card packing one PCIe x1 slot and a regular 32-bit legacy PCI slot.

“The VIA EPIA-M910 Mini-ITX board delivers a highly optimized platform that boasts comprehensive HD video performance, HD audio and HDMI support in a compact, power-efficient package" said Epan Wu, head of the VIA embedded platform division, VIA Technologies, Inc. 

“The rich I/O provides the connectivity and flexibility demanded by today’s ever diversifying embedded applications,” concluded the company’s rep.

VIA hasn't revealed any information regarding the release or the pricing of the EPIA-M910 motherboard, but this is expected to be sold only to system integrators and OEMs.

More Windows 8 Build Numbers Emerge

On the last day of February 2012, Microsoft will show to the world the beta flavor of its Windows 8 operating system, called Consumer Preview. 

The Redmond-based software giant has already confirmed the move officially, and we’re all eagerly waiting to learn more on what it has to unveil to the world on that day. 

In the meantime, however, we learn that the work on the final build of the Consumer Preview is not over yet. 

In fact, it appears that Microsoft is applying the final touches to the platform, and that it is currently testing beta release candidate builds for the new OS flavor. 

A recent post on Winunleaked.tk shows that Microsoft has Windows 8 Consumer Preview in its Escrow period, and that they are moving along with the 822x build numbers. 

In fact, screenshots of the 8220.0 build from the WinMAIN_Win8Beta branch have made it online, offering a glimpse of what the next Windows 8 Consumer Preview could offer. 

Moreover, there is a screenshot coming from Microsoft themselves via Twitter, which points at Build 8225 being currently tested in the company’s labs. 

And there are also a series of rumors that emerged last year, which suggest that the Windows 8 Customer Preview will arrive with build number 8227.0.winmain_win8beta.120207-1903. 

Windows 8 Server will follow a similar path. Following the 8220 build (Beta Candidate) that was supposedly ready at the end of January, the platform will reach 8226 when pushed to the public. 

Regardless of the actual build numbers, Windows 8 Consumer Preview will have a lot of great features to offer to those who will give it a try, even if they install it on a desktop PC. 

On February 29th, Microsoft will announce the new platform release and will make it available for download for the general public. The company is also expected to unveil more info on the future roadmap of Windows 8.

Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 with Full Support for Nokia Belle

Soon after making the new Nokia Belle platform version available for its devices around the world, Nokia announced updates for some of the apps that users can take advantage of on these smartphones. 

Among them, we can count the Nokia Maps Suite 2.0, which is now offering full support for the new operating system, while also delivering some additional enhancements. 

Among these changes, we can count voice search and geo-tagged photo display, along with a new and improved Route Planner, and more. 

The new Maps Suite offers users the possibility to find everything they want faster than before. To select how to reach a destination - including public transport - you will simply have to press and hold. 

Moreover, the application provides users with one-tap access to Places and Weather right from the Home screen.

“Nokia Maps now also makes your maps more personal than ever. Turn on Photos to see your snapshots of the places you’ve been placed along your map. Create customized routes for sightseeing or to avoid traffic. You can even save your favorite routes to access them late,” the team at Nokia Beta Labs notes. 

The application also comes with a new voice search capability, so that users can speak the destination to benefit from safer and easier searching on their devices while driving.

“New and improved landscape views in Weather and Drive make seeing what you need easier. And Weather now automatically shows you the weather for where you are, and can even show you what’s ahead,” the development team also explains. 

“Now you can choose to see your photos from places you’ve been placed right on your map. Using the geo-tagging information in photos taken on your phone, Maps will automatically place them in the locations they were taken where you can relive good times or even share them with friends,” the team concludes. 

Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 was made available for download for all Symbian handsets that run under the Nokia Belle platform version. It can be downloaded via this link.

The iPad 3 Doesn’t Have a Quad-Core CPU, Sources Say

Sources talking to The Verge about the latest iPad 3 leaks say the new Apple tablet will deliver pretty much everything that’s been rumored, save for a quad-core CPU.

People who are allegedly familiar with the next-generation iPad are telling the publication that Apple has ordered a double resolution display — “a true iPad Retina Display, clocking in at 2048 x 1536.”

The sources further said that the iPad 3 would be almost identical to its predecessor in terms of design and form factor, and that it might be about 1 millimeter thicker.

Finally, these people said, “the A6 CPU the iPad 3 is likely to sport will include a significantly more powerful GPU.” Nothing to gush about here, except the same people say “the A6 will not be a quad-core chip, but will remain dual-core.”

Pre-Orders Suspended for Nikon D800 36-Megapixel DSLR Camera

One would think that a product whose price is of multiple thousands of dollars wouldn't draw so many customers, but Nikon's D800 totally subverted this expectation. 

It was only a few days ago that online stores finally began to accept pre-orders for this small technological wonder. 

Now, they have stopped accepting such requests because too many have been sent already. 

“This item is in high demand and supplies from the manufacturer are limited,” Amazon warns

“Its availability will fluctuate, and if the item is not currently in stock, we cannot guarantee that we will receive additional quantities in a timely manner.” 

Nikon's 36-megapixel FX D800 camera can record video in Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) and supports ISO 100 to 6,300 (expanded up to 25,600). 

Additionally, the company implemented a 51-point AF system with 15 Cross Type AF sensors and a 3.2-inch, 921k dot preview display. 

The Nikon D800 has a price of $2,999.95, and £2399.95 in the United Kingdom. That would be around 2,518 Euro, according to exchange rates. 

The United States and Europe aren't the only regions served either. The item can also be found on Amazon.jp, among other places. 

Alas, there is no way to tell how long it will be before pre-orders are accepted again, assuming this even happens. 

Given that the formal release will only take place in March (for the base model) and April (for the low-pass filter-free one), Nikon, and its sales partners, may hold off accepting new entries until a new batch is ready, though it is unlikely. 

“The D800 is the right tool for today's creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc., when the initial introduction was held.

Lytro Light Field Camera Dismantled by FCC

The Lytro Light Field Camera is, one might say, the closest thing to a unique device on today's market of photo and video capture products, especially given the FCC's recent findings.

The Lytro Light Field camera has passed through the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Indeed, even though the product was never said to possess any sort of wireless connectivity, just this recent filing shows that it does.

In fact, the camera boasts an SoC (system-on-chip), called Marvell Avastar 88 W8787, which provides both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi links, though it is unclear if both will be enabled.

It is feasible that Lytro will sell Wi-Fi-only / Bluetooth-only models, as well as versions with no wireless support at all.

On that note, perhaps it will be possible to establish communication between it and smartphones and tablets, not just PCs.

At any rate, it is unclear what Lytro's plans are for this tube-like contraption.

For those that aren't quite up to date on what the Light Field camera is, the product captures the entire light field.

To elaborate, it “captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space.”

Additionally, there is 8x optical zoom and f/2 lens with a constant aperture across the entire zoom range (this led to the long, tube-like shape).

Sure, the images end up taking up 16MB of storage space each, but the bright side is that anyone will be able to re-focus and re-zoom them. The resolution is 11 Megarays (the number of light rays captured by the light field sensor).

The only real downside to the Lytro Light Field Camera is that the photos shot with it cannot be read by anything except a special application.

Thus, if Lytro ever looks at phone support, it will need to provide a version of this application that works on them.

Sony Builds Cyber-Shot TX300V Wireless Charging Camera

Sony has a very special camera on track for the Japanese market, but no other parts of the world, apparently, even though there probably would be no shortage of customers in other regions.

Some people may be familiar with the Cyber-shot Digital Camera TX200V, a high-end, waterproof and dustproof camera.

It so happens that Sony used that product as a starting point in the creation of a new camera, the Cyber-shot TX300V.

By far the most relevant of its assets is the “Multi-Cradle” dock, which uses the TransferJet technology to achieve a rare effect.

Long story short, through some techno-magic, the dock can wirelessly charge the TX300V camera, not just read the photos/videos stored on it.

Cyber-shot TX300V relies on an 18.2-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor for shooting Full HD 1080/60p video and photos, even in a high speed, continuous mode (up to 10 fps). 

Wi-Fi is integrated into the product as well (WF0 Direct is supported), along with GPS (global positioning system), permitting photos to be geotagged.

Furthermore, Sony tossed in the benefit of BIONZ processing, which, coupled with the improved focusing speed and sensitivity of the Exmor R CMOS sensor, leads to fast, DSLR-like focusing speeds, even in low light. 

Meanwhile, the Multi-Cradle dock receives its own power via USB (universal serial bus) and, via the TransferJet card, transmits data at about 375 Mbps (560 Mbps is the theoretical upper limit but not easy to reach).

The component behind the ability of the camera to recharge over air (while the Cradle accesses its data) is an inductive charging plate.

Unfortunately, sales won't begin until March 9, 2012, at a price of roughly 50,000 yen, or $409 / 307.40 Euro. 

For those who want more details, the specifications of the Cyber-shot TX200V will give them a fairly clear idea of what else the TX300V can do.

iPad 3 Aluminum Chassis Leaked

A number of iPad 3 back shells have been photographed in China and subsequently leaked on the web for everyone to see and compare with the iPad 2 version.

Not much has changed, as this high-res photo on the left shows, but the manufacturers reportedly say there is a bigger hole for the camera module on the iPad 3.

Apple’s next-generation tablet computer will not only boast a better camera, but also a more powerful processor and a Retina display, most analysts agree.

The image reportedly stems from a Chinese supplier who makes a living by providing parts to iPad repair shops worldwide.

Not long after this leak, a second one emerged - via Apple.pro. This blog has single-handedly leaked more iPhone and iPad prototype cases than any other source in China.

As Apple is gearing up to announce a product refresh, it is a common occurrence to see parts like these flying around, not to mention getting photographed and then reported on by the tech blogosphere.

In fact, it has become a tradition over the years - especially when it comes to the iPad.

While Apple is doing a fairly good job at keeping a tight lid on its iPhone plans, the same thing cannot be said about the company’s iPad business.

Such leaks occurred when the iPad 1 was launched in 2010, and they continued to 2011 when the iPad 2 was unveiled. This year, history is repeating itself, it seems.

Unfortunately, for those who were hoping Apple would redesign the tablet, it appears the iPad 3 will be pretty much identical to the current-generation model in terms of form factor.

In fact, according to Apple.pro, the iPad 3 will also have magnets to support the iPad 2 Smart Cover. It looks like we’ll have to wait another year for a major redesign.

Nokia Belle Brings Great Camera Enhancements

One of the great improvements that Nokia has packed inside the Nokia Belle platform update was related to the device’s camera.

To be more precise, the camera update packed inside the new Nokia Belle operating system is the same enhancement that was delivered to the company’s Nokia N8 smartphone a while ago. 

Thus, users who will install the new Nokia Belle platform release on their devices will notice a new, streamlined camera UI, similar to the Beta Labs N8 Camera update.

Moreover, the update brings along 30fps video recording and continuous autofocus in video close-up mode (though only N8 will benefit from it), along with a series of other enhancements. 

“The camera UI in Belle has been further improved compared to the earlier application update,” a recent post on the Nokia Beta Labs explains. 

“For example, the placement of the on-screen shutter button was changed for better ergonomics in landscape and portrait orientation, and the main controls were moved to the bottom of the viewfinder for a cleaner look.”

Those users who will update their devices to the new Nokia Belle platform version should not install the previous update on top of it to enjoy a better camera functionality on their devices. 

“If you update to Nokia Belle, we recommend not installing the earlier camera update on top of it. For that reason, we have now concluded the availability of the camera update application here at Nokia Beta Labs,” the team of developers notes. 

The Nokia Belle software update started to arrive on devices two days ago, when Nokia made it available for all owners of Nokia C6-01, C7, E6, E7, N8, X7 and Nokia Oro devices (it will also arrive on Nokia 500 in the coming weeks).

The new OS flavor is meant to arrive on devices all around the world, and can be installed only through a desktop computer, via the Nokia Suite application.

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